Friday, January 21, 2011

I AM TJIC

The Smallest Minority: I AM TJIC



Am I really?

Well, I'm not sure.

Here's the back story:
A blogger from Massachusetts wrote an article titled "1 down, 534 to go" referring to last weekend's assassination attempt on Representative Gabrielle Giffords.

It was ... egrigious. A clearly objectionable commentary on the ... would the word be "advisability"? ... of shooting politicians. One phrase stands out:
"It is absolutely, absolutely unacceptable to shoot 'indiscriminately'. Target only politicians and their staff, and leave regular citizens alone."
Let's come back to this later.

As a consequence, the local cops have seized his "arsenal" (11 guns .. that's not an arsenal, that's a dilettante), and have also "suspended his gun license". Well, it's Massachusetts, so you got to understand they think they can do this. If they require a "citizen" to apply for a license before owning a firearm, then they can suspend it ... with the added consequence that they confiscate all firearms. 'Well, the guy isn't licensed, so what can we do?' [Note: not a quote from any source referenced; I'm only imagining the rationale.]

Gee, this is bad stuff. How many laws has that doofus broken, anyway?

At last count: none.

Now, I don't claim that the guy has both oars in the water. What he said was stupid, and I don't agree with ANYTHING he said, assuming that all of the cited information is correct. Trouble is, the 'cited information' is second-hand at best, and probably 3rd or 4th hand. But let's assume that everything I've read is entirely factual, and also that it presents ALL of the 'facts' of the situation.

The guy said some stuff in a belligerent and bellicous manner, and it was WAY over the top.

Give that five exclamation points, just to emphasize that this is what I really, really really really REALLY think!!!!!

Let's go back to the number of laws he just broke.

None.

The thing is, there's this Constitutional issue.

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

[emphasis added]

See, the First Amendment wasn't written, and included among the FIRST RIGHTS of our country to protect speech that we all accept and agree with. It was included to protect speech that we don't like, that we don't agree with, and which we would rather not hear.

mmm .. I think that pretty much covers my own personal evaluation of the things this guy said, if I can believe the 2nd-hand information I have found.

Personally, I think these quotes are odious and egregious. Also, I think the man had every right to say them, and I am obliged by my belief in the righteousness of the Constitution of the United States to support his right to say them.

Wow! I can't believe I just said that. I would not invite this man into my home. I would not consider anyone who advocated the assassination of political officials a good choice as a 'friend'.


Let's briefly discuss the concept of "hate speech".

That's just stupid, trying to pass laws against words you use. Also, unconstitutional. This IS America, this IS a free country.

Okay, glad we got that out of the way.

How about this other thing? How about the "Arlington Police" confiscate his firearms?

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.

Wow again!

That's a two-fer. One sentence, and these guys not only deny his First Amendment rights, but also his Second Amendment rights.

I know, it's Massachusetts ... they get to make the rules.

Actually, they don't.

I understand their concerns, the cops. There's already been one very high-profile attack on a Congressperson, and this guy is saying "Hey, that's okay!" I don't blame the police for being reluctant to NOT act on such an obvious threat.

mmm ... maybe it's not that obviously a threat. Maybe it is. Maybe the guy is another nutter, maybe he's just a jerk.

Probably the guy isn't going to go shoot anybody, no matter what he says. But I've seen the movie "Minority Report", and I know what's what.

Which is to say, that was a movie. A made-up story. We can't know what is the inevitable conclusion of "words".

Do I think the guy is a danger to some un-named politician? Is he going to turn into a sniper?

No, I don't think that. But I don't know for sure; and if I was a cop I would probably be inclined to err on the side of caution. But I'm not a cop, and it's not my job to evaluate the circumstances and maybe decide that it's a lot safer to take the guys guns away until we can sort this thing out.

Would I be wrong?

Maybe I would.

What do you think?

This is a very grey area, and I have not taken the job of policeman (or judge) because I don't think I can sort these things out and make the right decision .. .because right now I don't know what the right decision is.

What I DO know is the first two amendments to the Constitution of the United States of America, and that says:
  1. I can't shut him up
  2. I can't take his guns

Pretty Woman

video

Thursday, January 20, 2011

NYPD actually 'buys back' missing gun stolen from 103rd Precinct locker

NYPD actually 'buys back' missing gun stolen from 103rd Precinct locker:

"A gun swiped from a police lieutenant's locker - sparking a probe into whether it was an inside job by disgruntled officers - was sold to an NYPD buyback program for $100."
Well, that's pretty exciting.

While I'm extremely supportive of Law Enforcement Officers (my son is one, albeit in the Nave as a Master At Arms), I'm dubious about the level of maturity this incident demonstrates.

Cops are all about "To Serve ... And To Protect". Right? Also, they are held to a higher standard, because in any society they may be the "only ones" who are authorized to carry firearms on a daily basis, with the expectation that they will use these firearms only to protect us ... the disarmed citizens. (This is especially true in NYC, because we all know that the average citizen is not allowed to possess/carry firearms for self-protection; that's what we have the cops for, right?

The story is that a commander and his driver locked their firearms in a 'gun vault' at the precinct house, and when the went back to retrieve them the guns were gone. Best guess: cops in the cop-house broke into the lockers and stole them.

To make matters worse, later a 'citizen" turned in a gun at the front desk as part in the "don't ask/don't tell" gun program, and only later was that gun determined (by checking the serial number) to be one of the guns stolen from the cops.

Now the NYPD have experienced a clueless moment, and there is no way to follow the non-existent audit trail.

What kind of bullshit is this? Cops vs Cops? Is this Candid Camera, or "Spy vs Spy" a la Mad Magazine?

The punch line is, NYPD has (through no efforts on their own) "found" the pistol belonging to the commander.

They still have no idea what happened to the pistol belonging to the commander's driver.

Hey, the state with the "Sullivan Law" needs to be more pro-active. Or less, whatever it takes.

But you for damn sure need to keep track of your own people.

Somebody must go down for this. And it won't be the Commander or his driver, because so far it appears that they are The Only Ones who followed procedures.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Retirement

Today I submitted to my manager a Letter of Intent. I will retire in 90 days.

My original plan was to work for one more year, if only because the Social Security benefits are significantly higher. My pension won't be "fully vested" for another 15 years, and there's no way that I'm going to work that long ... nor would anyone in their right mind allow me to. But I thought that with the "reduced pension", and another year of contribution (from both myself and my employer), the total would allow me to continue to live in the life-style to which I have become accustomed. Although, I probably won't be spending $50 a month at the local Used Book Store, as is my current habit.

This plan, however, is a non-starter.

The past two years have been difficult. Sandie's extended illness has been emotionally, as well as physically, draining. I have watched her bowing her head, and I have crumbled at the sight like the wall on an old adobe building under severe weather.

Stress, depression, all have taken their toll. I've experienced several health issues .. my doctor has reluctantly attributed them all to stress.

These have had consequences. I've missed a lot of work, partly because of time I've felt that being available to help She were somehow more important than the mundane day-to-day duties of working for a living. Other times because I was sick ... more often because I was discouraged and heart-sick.

In the meantime, my IS department has changed the way they do business, entirely. New applications, new operating system, new scheduling system, new computers ... everything is new. My colleagues who show up every day take the classes, get the experience, and charge on. I, on the other hand, was either unavailable or ... was unavailable.

It's a new and vibrant working environment. I got behind, and didn't catch up.

After Sandie's death, after I took 5 weeks off on "Compassionate Leave" (but unpaid), I was behind on the few projects I had left. And looking at them last week, I realized that they required technical skills that I just didn't have.

Frankly, I didn't much care. And that bothered me.

I have been working since I was old enough to push a lawn mower ... which I did starting about age 12. I worked for people in the neighborhood who left on vacation, and hired me to cut their lawns and water. I got a job with a real estate agent doing this for a few properties during my 14th summer.

I worked summers in the wheat harvest, in the pea harvest (Did you know that Umatilla County grows 25% of the peas produced in the United States? It's a family thing: my mother use to work summers in the pea-cannery in Pendleton, Oregon. After that time, she never ate another pea; after my two summers, neither did I.)

For a couple of years, I worked after school and Summers for two years at a Caterpillar Tractor parts house.

Minimum wage jobs, all, but I needed to find something that paid more before I started college.

My parents couldn't afford college tuition, but they could co-sign a Student Loan for me.

When I turned 18, I spent summers working in the Wood Products Industry. I did the jobs nobody else wanted to do, and the summer when I was 18 I worked swing shift at a "Unfinished Furniture" factory in a small town new where I lived.

Then I started college, first at Eastern Oregon college in LaGrande, later at Oregon State University in Corvallis.

My brother-in-law worked for the National Biscuit Company ("Nabisco" .. makers of saltines, snack crackers, etc.) He got me a summer-relief job taking over routes for salesmen in the Willamette Valley area. I spent a couple of summers doing that.

After graduation, I got married, and six days later reported for induction to the U.S. Army. I spent two years at that, with a starting wage of $102/month. One year in training, one year in Viet Nam as a Staff Sgt (E-6).

In 1970 I left the army, took a 6-month in Computer Programming (COBOL, BASIC, RPG) and somehow found a job as a courier for a Computer Service Bureau in Oakland, California. Started at the bottom (at $405/month); and shortly after I had worked my way up to a Programmer job, I moved with my wife to Portland, Oregon, where I had found a programmer job with Freightliner, Corporation at the grand salary of $1,000+/month.

I worked there for a while ... 14 years. Finally was RIFFED in 1994. Started (and failed at) a Contract Programmer business, but somehow got a 4 month contract with Oregon State University. Completed that successfully, then was later hired by OSU for a "real" (full employment) job based at least partly on the successful completion of my earlier contract. And there I have remained for 14 years, 11 months.

Sounds just like a resume', doesn't it? And in a way it is, because I have no other way to talk about the concept that I have worked all my life, for over 50 years, and now I have voluntarily determined that the best thing for me is to NOT continue working.

I have no idea what I'm going to do with my time. I've worked my whole life; I have no experience with not-working. I am not qualified for the non-job.

My best guess is that I will let myself go, as Liza Minelli said in the song. Then I'll get myself back together and find other things to do.

The Japanese (or is it the Chinese?) have a cultural history, I am told, of a man working productively until it is time for him to stop, then giving away his property and becoming a Budhist Monk; wandering the land with his begger-bowl and saffron robe, searching for rice and enlightenment.

I don't guess I'm going to do that. Although I admit I am curious where I will find either rice, or enlightenment.

Or I may end up living under a bridge with the hobos. I hope not. That has been a long-standing joke between myself and a co-worker. It seems less funny now, but really I hope that I can dig deep into the resources of my soul and find something worthwhile to do.

In the final analysis, it's an exciting new chapter in my life. I've always accumulated "things" (usually books). Now I have the opportunity to restructure my life, my self-image (which has been sorely wounded by my realization that I am no longer productive. and need to opt out of the sense of being a "contributor" which has characterized my day-to-day life for over 50 years).

I can be whomever and whatever I want ... within certain restrictions, which I wonder how to define, let alone accommodate.

The situation also offers opportunities.

I have long regretted that I am unable to spend time with my grandchildren, who live with their parents (my children) 1500 miles away in San Diego. Can I move to California (which state I dislike intensely because of the politics there, but not really not all that different from Oregon)? Is it worth it to me? Can I be a positive influence on them, when I missed most of my children's development because of divorce when they were very young?

Or am I merely indulging myself in a certain degree of Angst, because I have to do something that I have never done before?

I don't know the answers to these, and many other questions which occur to me just now. It's all new to me.

Isn't that exciting?

I can't wait to see what happens next in my life.

Monday, January 17, 2011

NPR is Involved, Civilization is Doomed!

From The Smallest Minority (re: Snowflakes in Hell), I note this NPR interview with Paul Henke ("The Brady Bunch"); Robert Levy (co-counsel in Heller); Tracee Larson, an 'undercover agent' of the deliberately misnamed "American Hunters and Shooters Association" (new blogger with two blogs on her website, both in the past week); and Representative Carolyn McCarthy .. who plans to introduce new legislation restricting magazine capacity as per the 1994 Assault Weapon Ban.


The 33-Bullet Magazine: How Much Firepower is Too Much? | WBUR and NPR - On Point with Tom Ashbrook

[This is a 47 minute audio file, and there is no video ... or transcript ... currently available that I can find.]

Hemke is the pivotal interviewee, and he presents the basic themes of the Brady Center to Prevent Handgun Violence.

Robert Levy gets about a half-minute to state his basic position, which passes without comment.

McCarthy presents her bill.

But the majority of the interview time is spent with Tracee Larson, who purportedly speaks as an advocate of the Second Amendment. Just a quick quotes-snatch of her comments in the first 23 minutes of the interview serves to demonstrate her political position vis a vis the Second Amendment ... which is quite different from that of people who regularly enjoy their rights and comment in the various milieu:

Tracee re: the Glock gun used in the shooting: "It has a lot of power, it has a lot of kickback .. it's not easily concealed".

Host to Tracee: "You're a Gun Rights Advocate" ... "Are you familiar with those high-capacity magazines ... have you seen them?"
Tracee*: "Yes I have. I've seen them at various gun-shoots that I've attended. It's pretty heavy... it's not somthing that I see for the home-user personal protection. ... It does have a lot of power, it has a lot of kick-back ... it does have a lot of power."

*(Some confusion whether she is discussing the Glock, or the "high-capacity magazine". In the context of the interview, it seems as if she is discussing the magazine capacity, rather than the pistol or the caliber of the pistol..)

Host: "How do you look at it, Tracee?"
Tracee: " My personal perspective, as a gun owner and someone who does support the Second Amendment; I don't see the Congresswoman's amendment ... I don't see it preventing a person from legally owning a gun. it's not taking away my rights to bear arms. ... I would see it as a sensible step in ... having rightful and sensible gun ownership."

(Compares "high capacity magazines" with "Suppressors" The host immediately interrupts her and, in an alarmed tone says: "Suppressors, you mean Silencers!")

Tracee: "I don't see that the Congresswoman's bill preventing a legal able person from owning a gun. It doesn't take away from my right to bear arms. It didn't take away my right to own a gun [the AWB ban] then, and ... it won't now. I look on it as a sensible step in having rightful and sensible gun ownership."

Speaking of suppressors: Tracee Says:
Not all states allow gun-owners to legally possess them, but those who can must apply through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to regulate the ownership of such devices. It doesn't mean that we can't own them, but there is a regulatory process that if you are to legally able and allowed to own a gun, that just go through a few extra steps .. uh .. um .. there is a little bit of a tariff that you do have to pay to own something of that, but it doesn't mean that a collector would be prevented from owning something [like that in their] .. .collection, but for me who is someone who owns guns for target shooting ... um ... [deleted text) I don't see why a gun owner needs ... a high-capacity clip."

That's a quick gallop-through of the first half of the interview, with special attention to the opinions of "Tracee", who represents herself as a "second amendment advocate".

Salient points are that Tracee is give the most air-time of any of the interviewees, and her opinions are consistantly that proposed (by Rep. McCarthy): legislation would not impose a hardship on gun-owners, and are entirely consistent with the Second Amendment.

Which is not, perhaps, consistent with the phrase " ... shall not be infringed ...". But then, if you really don't care about the rights of firearms owners, that is not an issue which needs to be addressed.

One more thing.
In the 2nd half, after asking about the NRA opposition to McCarthy's proposed bill, the host asks Representative McCarthy:
"Do you feel safe, championing this as an American congresswoman today?"

McCarthy, of course, answers that she does.

The question, though, is insulting to American firearms owners. The implication is that an American Congresswoman cannot safely propose a bill which might restrict full interpretation of the Second Amendment. Or in other words, it implies that firearms owners are so intrinsically unbalanced that nobody can challenge the Constitution without personal risk.

Assuming that I did not already find National Public Radio an egregious outlook on American sensibilities ... I would now. How can anyone imply such a despicable view of honest Americans? Well, NPR obviously feels free to ask even the most despicable questions ... which in itself implies that they "feel safe".

(McCarthy's answer is : "Yes", but as soon as she attempts to expand on her comments the Host says: "We're out of time" and goes to commercial.)


Perhaps that answers the question.

COMMENTS:


But however warped the NPR perspective, perhaps it is even more telling that the comments the interview invites reveal an America which is fraught with fear, misinformation and Liberal Suggestion.

The online comments (embedded in the interview audio) are interesting, including as they do some input from firearms advocates .. which are typically dismissed by the host.

But the online comments on the website are extremely telling.


The first comment:
Please understand that gun control and magazine control is not the issue here. Fewer bullets in a magazine will not stop the kind of tragedy that we’ve just experienced. It is only when we as a nation demonstrate that we are one, do we have a chance of stopping the desire to use bullets in our discourse.
"We are one". Right. That's helpful. I have no idea what the author is trying to say.
However, saying that "... gun control and magazine control is [sic] not the issue here ..." seems disingenuous at first, but perhaps the commenter is correct, although not the way he probably intended that casually proposed statement to be interpreted.
This really isn't about "guns", or "Magazines". This is about Control.


The second comment:
... don’t you think there might be a genetic disposition towards irrational violence, just as there is a disposition towards “irrational exuberance” and genes for homosexuality? Or albinos?
Again ... I have no idea. Is it "our fault" that we kill each other because it's in our genes? Is the author suggesting that we need to impose a genetic gene scan on each individual, to filter out the people who are genetically dispose to killing each other? Winston Smith, maybe, but the rest of us? I don't think so.


The Third Comment:

A simple preventative measure to gun toting Americans is to make military service mandatory for every one as do many nations from Switzerland to Israel.

If you have even been in the service, you won’t have the need to find your masculinity in a gun.

Hmmm ... I spent two years in the army, went to Viet Nam, saw the elephant, and I still feel the need to find my masculinity in a gun. Or maybe not. Maybe I just like shooting. Maybe a cigar is just a good smoke.

Maybe I just don't care that much; maybe the author of this comment is without a clue; maybe he's projecting.


The Fourth comment:

How many bullets do military pistols hold?

Try fitting a 32 round clip into a pistol and then into your holster. Duh !

M1911 is what ? Seven rounds ?
The Berretta? 8? 12?

If the military does not need a 32 round clip, why on earth would civilians unless it is for some sort of pseudo-marcho-commercial reason.

Maybe the "military" uses "Assault Rifles" as their primary weapons, with 30 round magazines. And maybe they use their pistols as only their final defensive weapon; and maybe they can use magazines with as high capacity as the Army chooses to support ... economically. Maybe this question is bogus. You think?


The Fifth Comment:

Any firepower is too much. The 33-bullet magazine should never have been available to anyone except police, bodyguards, & those in the military. Whose side are these judges, lawyers & lawmakers on anyway? (As if we didn’t know. They certainly aren’t concerned with OUR safety.)

I have NO idea where this came from, but "any firepower is too much" must surely be a clue to the cluelessness of the author.

Why does he include "bodyguards"? Does the commenter believe that only the rich, who can afford to hire professional bodyguards, deserve protection? If he thinks police, bodyguards and military might find an advantage in having a "33-bullet magazine", then why does he think that the rest of us should be penalized by not having access to this advantage? And if it is not an advantage, why does he 'award' this non-advantage to privileged classes of people, and not allow it for the rest of us?

Ultimately, the entire sequence of comments suggests that there is something intrinsically WRONG in having "too much ... bullets" in a magazine. But who is qualified to determine exactly how many "bullets" are "too much"? And why are they more qualified than the rest of us to judge?


Skip a few, and then we get to the Seventh (Sixth?) comment:

I also thought, (hoped), I was off to bed, but tomorrow’s (today’s!) topics appeared, & I couldn’t help myself.

I’d give almost anything to read just 1 haiku about now, then drift happily off to sleep. Don’t know if I’ll make it or not, but fingers are crossed.

Sorry, but when this breached the Event Horizon, I quit and went to bed.

"Somebody" though the question sufficiently important to respond, but that "somebody" was so intrinsically clueless that she was more concerned with posing an appropriate haiku rather than to address an issue which "Somebody else" proposed.


The best I can do is to respond in an inappropriate Haiku:

The moving Finger writes,

and having writ,

reloads

Oh, yeah, I almost forgot to check the "next comment":

I would like the Supreme Court to overturn the Second Amendment based on the concept that its ORIGINATION REPRESENTS AN ILLEGITIMATE BASIS FOR GUN OWNERSHIP TODAY. Once the amendment was overturned, the Court would require Congress to modify and replace it. Let us LEARN FROM this tragedy in Tucson: let’s work to grant ourselves True Life and Liberty!

The legal basis for this change is this: the Second Amendment was PARTLY passed as part of a Compromise between the North and the South. The South was afraid that the abolitionists in the North could get the federal government to overturn their states’ rights to raise armed militias which they had been raising for slave control, especially in times of slave insurrections, since colonial times. Should we be living under the “SWAY” of a law that was started in the context of slavery? Didn’t this “freedom” represent LOSS of freedom for millions of individuals living in this land, at the time, who helped to build this country? Yes, we no longer allow slavery, but we are living, on a daily basis, with the VESTIGES of it thru the Second Amendment!!


Not only way too many exclamation marks, but the author apparently confused the Revolutionary War with the Civil War.

Not only "Clueless", but .. aw, shit. These people are so without-a-clue that their ignorance automatically obviates anything they may offer in support of their so-called ... whatever.

I am so disappointed by the level of civic mis-comprehension of the average liberal, it makes me ill to read the crap that they write.