Thursday, February 09, 2006

NRA bill would OK guns in cars at work in Florida | 02/08/2006 |

The National Rifle Association is pushing a bill that would penalize Florida employers with prison time and lawsuits if they prohibit people from keeping guns in their cars at workplace parking lots.

But the proposal is facing stiff opposition from a group just as powerful in the state capital as the NRA: Florida's biggest business lobby.

Mark Wilson, a vice president of Florida's Chamber of Commerce, which represents 136,000 businesses, said the proposal, to be voted on today in a House committee, is ''an all-out assault'' on employer-employee relations that intrudes on private property rights.

Okay, we've lost this one already. They've played the PropertyRights Card.

Wait a minute, this doesn't work for private citizens. Why should it work for businesses?

Do we have property rights? According to the US Constitution, we do.

According to the Supreme Court, we don't.

With other business groups expected to join in, the widespread opposition to the NRA bill sets the stage for a rare power struggle between two of the Legislature's mightiest lobbies. And some political observers predict that, for one of the first times in recent history, the NRA will lose in the Legislature of a state where one of every 49 people has a concealed weapons permit and an estimated six million own firearms.
And Big Business has 49 out of 50 legislators in their pocket.

Anybody want to make a prediction on this one?

Here's mine: the NRA is counting on Roberts and Alito to be firmly entrenched by the time this reaches the Supreme Court of the United States, and they have a feeling that if they don't win the issue, they may score broader points vis-a-vis the whole Second Amendment thingie.

On the other hand, the NRA "leadership" (hah!) has consisted of a bunch of lunkheads for the past twenty years, with the possible exceptions of Jeff Cooper and Charlton Heston.

Cooper (85 next May 10) is pretty broken-down now, and Heston (82 next October 4) is in an advanced state of senility, but between the two of them they STILL have more guts, gumption and good sense than the entire current NRA-BOD.

They might be able to pull off a hat-trick like this, but I don't think the Ninnies at NRA can do it.

Bill sponsor Rep. Dennis Baxley, an Ocala Republican, said he filed the legislation to prevent ''back-door gun control.'' In the past two years, he has successfully sponsored bills limiting lawsuits against gun ranges, preventing cops from compiling electronic lists of gun owners and expanding people's rights to use deadly force if they feel threatened outside their homes.

''We just disagree that the business community's private property rights trumps my Second Amendment rights,'' Baxley said, noting he doesn't personally support carrying firearms in the workplace.

Under the bill, if business owners ban guns in cars on workplace parking lots, they could get sued and charged with a third-degree felony, punishable by a maximum five-year prison sentence and a $5,000 fine. The bill has an exception for places like schools, where guns are banned by law.

(I don't know, maybe I'm over-rating the NRA. What do you think?
Do they really believe they can get, say, a ConicoPhillips Distributer thrown into jail?)
The measure was inspired by a case out of Oklahoma in 2002, when a dozen paper mill workers were fired after bosses found out they had guns in their cars. Oklahoma lawmakers passed a law similar to the Florida proposal, and business owners sued in federal court. Among them: ConocoPhillips. The NRA then launched a boycott, replete with billboards saying, ''ConocoPhillips is no friend of the Second Amendment.'' Since then, four states have passed laws like Oklahoma's, seven are considering them, and five killed the idea with relatively little debate, said Peter Hamm, spokesman for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
Oh oh, The Brady Bunch!
Hmmm ... perhaps it comes down to whether our Ninnies can beat their Nincompoops.

It's going to be an interesting show to watch.

Anybody got Popcorn?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


My son lives in Colorado, and works nights. His wife, Alysha, works during the day. This must be rough on them but they seem to manage. At least it allows them to spend plenty of time with their three children: Lizzie, Connor, and Jake.

Last night Alysha had put the kids to bed and took her bath, then went to check on the children before she went to bed.

She found little Jake, their youngest at 16 months, in a 'coma', and turning blue.

She picked him up and forgot all of her CPR training. She patted him on the back, shook him, patted him some more and finally got him breathing again. She called for an ambulance, then called Ben at work to come home. She went with Jake to the hospital while Ben stayed with Lizzie and Connor.

The doctors decided that Jake had some kind of virus, like a cold, and while they could do no more about the virus than they could a cold, they could treat the symptoms and monitor his condition. They medicated him against sinus infection, cleaned accumulated mucus out of his nose and mouth, and put him in an oxygen tent.

(Incidently, Alysha had taken Jake to the doctor yesterday, to check on what seemed to be an incipient cold. The doctor prescribed some cold medication with Codiene, but they hadn't filled the prescription yet. The doctors this morning told her that if she had given that medicine to Jake, the Coceine would probably have prevented her from ever being able to wake him up again.)

Today the other children were being watched over by family members while Ben and Alysha were in the hospital. Late this afternoon they took Jake out of the oxygen tent long enough for Alysha to hold him. This evening, the hospital released Jake and, as of 40 minutes ago (when I talked to Ben), he was resting comfortably.

Ben said they were all trying to get some sleep, so please call back tomorrow, preferably sometime after 11. He sounded tired, so I kept my conversation short. I just told him how proud I was of Alysha for saving little Jakes life.


This probably sounds like a fairly coherent account, but it wasn't the way I got the news.

The first word I had of the crisis was when my mother called a little after 7pm tonight, saying that she got the news this morning from Ben's mother, only that he had been found in the crib, in a coma, turning blue, Alysha got him breathing and to the hospital, he seemed to be all right but they were watching him. The other kids were okay, Ben was at the hospital and probably couldn't take calls because they wouldn't let him have his cell phone 'on' there.

Mom had decided not to call me at work, because there was nothing I could do and I would probably just worry about him all day.

SWMBO came by after her Jazzercise class about a half-hour after I had talked to Mom, and when I told her what had happened she advised me to call Ben. She said if I didn't, I probably would worry myself sick and never get to sleep tonight.

Later my daughter, Jennifer (pregnant with HER second child) called to flesh out the details a little. She said I should call Ben, and if he was not in the hospital he would have his cell phone on and I could talk to him. If he was at the hospital, they would make him turn the cell phone off and it wouldn't bother anybody. She said that if I didn't call Ben, I would worry myself sick and wouldn't get any sleep at all tonight.

Why does everybody think I'm such a worry wort? What makes them think that my grandson's near-death experience would upset me so? Hah! They think they know me, just because they are my family.

And finally I called Ben for the summary, and the good news that the crisis was over.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usMy heart took a few jolts this evening, and you can imagine my feeling of helplessness at being 1000 miles away when we came so close to losing this beautiful child.

I'm coming down from my little panic attack now, I'll probably be able to sleep tonight after all. Writing this is just a nervous reaction, a way for me to step back a little bit and regain my equilibrium. And maybe, until I can talk to Alysha directly, it's a way to say how proud I am of her.

She did everything just right. She saved a precious life. She is my hero.

Thank you, Alysha.

Thank you, God.

Thank you, my loving family, for also watching over the doting grandfather.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

How To Film IPSC Matches

I've recently been getting a lot of hits from Google searches about "How To Film IPSC Matches".

SWMBO and I have been doing a lot of that over the past several years, and those of you who have seen the results are probably painfully aware that our "on-the-job training" hasn't always produced pictures of the highest quality or greatest interest.

Still, we have evolved some guidelines that we hope to apply in future photography, and they may help you when you're shooting pictures while other people are shooting action-pistol stages.

The principles group themselves into five natural categories:

(1) Remember who wants to see the pictures, and why:
  • People don't want to see YOUR friends; they want to see THEIR friends, or people they know
  • Most important, they want to see themselves
  • Photograph everybody, whether they are big-names or not, but be sure to photograph people who can be expected to perform well
  • People want to see match winners, or stage winners, or the competitors who are most likely to provide a challenge to these people
  • Sometimes, photos are used as training aids. It's a good idea to look for people who demonstrate the best approach to a given shooting problem; it's also frequently useful to photograph people who make mistakes, so they (and others) can learn from their mistakes
  • Mistakes are often in the small things. Be sure to get the "small things" ... see below

(2) General rules for good action photograph:
  • Put PEOPLE in your pictures! A photograph that just shows the targets, or the stage, is without interest. Remember, you're there to photograph PEOPLE. While it's often a good idea to take photos of stages to show their design, or props, it's boring.
  • Try to film with the light source behind you.
  • NEVER try to take photographs when you're looking into the sun. It won't turn out well.
  • Be unobtrusive in your photography. Don't try to position yourself in a good place if it may interfere with the shooter or the Range Officer. Above all, don't be a nuisance, don't be a source of concern to the RO who may think you're in danger of being run over by the competitor.
  • Ideally, the competitor should be unaware that you are filming, although it is a VERY good idea to get permission of the competitor before you publish photographs.
  • Make sure you have a high-quality photograph; use a high-density digital camera, or a film with a speed appropriate to both action AND high quality. This is often a difficult balance to achieve, but while grainy pictures are often disappointing, blurry photographs are usually unusable. Film is a poor second choice, because you need to ....
  • Shoot a LOT of pictures. You never know what is going to be important until you look at the results. You can feel good about throwing away a hundred pictures if the 101st is a keeper.
  • Compose your photos so you have both the competitor and the target, or at least components of the stage, in the frame. When you have to make a choice, film the people!
  • Use other elements of the stage ... the RO, props, trees, shadows ... to frame your primary subject.
  • The best photographs illustrate a point. This is good, this is bad, this is exciting, this is colorful, this is fast ... the point isn't as important as making it visibly obvious.

Going back to the first rule, why should you include people in your photograph? Here are two pictures of an object ... a stage prop which includes a target array (two plates in the Tiger's 'eyes', and Pepper Poppers bordered by white-and-green penalty targets in the base):

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usFree Image Hosting at

Which of the two pictures is more interesting? Which gives you more information about the prop ... size, and the effect on the competitor?

Clearly, the photo on the right shows how big the prop is; and the dubious expression of the person in the photograph helps to establish that this is an intimidating target array. (The Pepper Poppers do not show up in the small-size version of this picture, so ALWAYS make a full-size version available so your audience can see the important details. This is a point that you should consider when you're publishing photographs.)

(3) Special guidelines for shooting still photographs:

  • Take more pictures!
  • Try to imply action with your timing; look for photos which show the slide cycling, the gun in recoil, brass flying through the air, a steel target falling down ... anything that implies motion or action.
  • Shooters in motion are more interesting than shooters standing steel. Capture the shot that shows a shooter moving, with the body leaning at an acute angle, or one or both feet off the ground.
  • Look for shadows that provide a more dramatic effect.
  • Look for contrasts; put a shooter against a dark background, so the shooter and the gun (and brass!) show up better. Avoid action shots against a complicated, mottled background that may camouflage detail.
To illustrate that last remark, here are two consecutive photos of the same competitor on the same stage:

Free Image Hosting at Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usIn the photo on the left, you see the face of the shooter, the gun, brass flying through the air (see the full-size version of the picture), and a good portion of the stage including targets. The shooter contrasts with the berm, as does the brass, so both show up well.

The photo on the rightshows little of the shooter, or the stage, and you get no impression of ACTION. The shooter is out of focus and blends in withe the RO and the background.

(4) Special guidelines for shooting videos:;
  • ALWAYS edit your videos. Get rid of footage that doesn't enhance the performance you're trying to depict. Ideally, the film starts at the Beep of the Range Officer's clock and ends with the last shot.
  • Sometimes, the most interesting part of the video is what happens before competitor starts or after the competitor stops shooting at targets. Let the camera run extra time, just so you don't miss the best part of the stage. You can always cut it, but if you haven't filmed it you don't have the option.
  • Try to film EVERYBODY! The most interesting things (when somebody falls, when they bobble a reload, when a steel target is hit fairly but doesn't fall) never happened if you don't film it.

(5) Special technical guidelines, to make your photos and videos more readily available to your audience:
  • Film is good, digital is better. Get a digital camera, of at least 3 megapixels density. Five megapixels density is better yet. You can crop still photos, you can convert your MPG to WMV format and reduce density, but if you don't CAPTURE the detail you can't PUBLISH the detail. Note: Ten Megapixels density will probably be more than you can use. See below.
  • Get extra data chips for your camera, and be prepared to swap them out when they get full. A 1GB chip will hold MOST of a full day's shooting, if you're not filming every moment of every competitor's performance. Get two of them, and always delete files from previous sessions before you start the next one.
  • Get at least one extra battery; preferably two of them. Always recharge your batteries the night before a match. Expect to run out of battery power (or memory space) at the most important/exciting moment in the match. Keep your replacement memory and batteries on your person, NOT in your camera bag.
  • To save battery power, it's often better to keep the camera 'on' between photos if you expect to use it within five minutes or so.
  • Use your zoom feature to center on your subject. Whether you use a tight zoom to fill the frame with images of the competitor, or open it up to capture both the competitor and the stage (or targets), pick a setting before you start filming and keep it there. It's distracting to have the camera zooming in and out during a competitor's run.
  • The last rule is a guideline; sometimes it's permissible to zoom in or out, but you need to be very good at it to prevent losing the most important part of the film while you're searching to re-acquire your 'target'.
  • Whether you plan to post your film on the Internet, or send it by email, it is discouraging to your audience when they have to wait for several minutes for the film to download. You may find it preferable to convert your MPG files to WMV files of 50% or lower density, just to get the movie to their screen. If you can present a higher-density version as an alternative, that's fine; if their interest is captured by the low-density version, they MAY choose to download another version. But probably not, unless it is "their" performance they will be viewing.
Note that you can use the "Windows Movie Maker" software (available as part of your standard software package on new Personal Computers with the XP operating system) to edit and downsize your videos.

Good shooting, and good luck.

Hitler Jugend

Nassau County students could earn as much as $100 next school year every time they turn in another student for having drugs, alcohol, weapons or tobacco on campus.

Spearheaded by the Nassau Alcohol, Crime and Drug Abatement Coalition, the program has tentatively been titled "Safe Schools," and it's planned to start in every high school and middle school in Nassau County in August if approved by members of the Nassau County School Board.

"This program empowers the child to create a safe environment for themselves," said Susan Woodford, vice-president of NACDAC.

Woodford is working on the program with other members of NACDAC, including Fernandina Beach Police Officer Marty Scott and local school officials.

According to Scott, the program would allow students who report on fellow students to remain anonymous; awards would be given for information that leads to an arrest.
Welcome to Nassau County, Florida, where your friends can burn you for cash.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThis is not a new concept, and in fact this program has already been enacted in other American counties.

It was, in fact, enacted (in slightly different form, but with more far-reaching consequences) in 1930's Hitler Germany.

The target age-group was the same, and many of the aims were the same. Although the current incarnation is to "(empower) the child to create a safe environment for themselves ...", the tactics and priorities are identical:

  1. Transfer adolescent allegience from the family or peer group to The State;
  2. Undermine the definition between non-Statist groups (family vs peer group) to the benefit of State-defined programs, to the point where The State is defined as the ultimate authority and peer-group;
  3. Establish a simplistic and personally rewarding relationship between the adolescent and The State;
  4. Start with "wrong" activities being clearly defined in terms which have already been identified as "counter-productive", leaving no opportunity for opposing opinion and taking as granted that the defined activities, as the first step, and set up a relationship which can later move on to political "wrong" activities'
  5. Create an environment of mistrust between children and peers and/or families, which may later be expanded to the benefit of to-be-defined Statist goals.
Is this the 21st Century's bid to re-enact the concept of antidisciplinarianism, or is it just an attempt to teach our children to compromise their natural loyalties for Statist goals?

The basic concept -- to encourage children to police their own environment for their own benefit -- may not be unworthy. But the techniques are, in that they use financial gain as the motivation. How big a step is it from earning a hundred bucks to rat out your cigarette-smoking friend, to earning the gratitude of The State for turning in your politically incorrect parents for using wrong words in reference to socio-political groups?

Hey, Kid. Over here. Yeah, come over here into the shadows. How would you like to earn a hundred bucks? No problem, I've got it right here, in cash. All you got to do is snoop around until you find one of your buddys with that Eeeeevil cigarette-smoke stench on 'em, and boogie up to the Principal's office. Just pony up a name, a description, and the big bucks are yours.

And your friend? He'll never know it was you. If you're real careful, you can finger the whole rat-bastard bunch of those second-hand-smoke killin' monsters. What do you care if they figure out who's turning them in? They won't be around any more. We'll bust them, and ship them out to the Anti-Smoking Education Camp. Isn't that A Good Thing? If they cared about you, they wouldn't be smoking, fouling up the air that you breathe. They're trying to do it to you, why shouldn't you do it to them first? And remember, we're gonna PAY you for doing a public service. Go buy an IPod on us. We'll take care of you. All you have to do is ... say, does your Dad smoke? Does he smoke in the house?

Yessssss my precioussssssss .......

To you, it may seem petty to view this not-so-new program as the harbringer of odious and oppressive police-state tactics.

To others, this may be a clarion call to shut down the unilateral measures invoked by the State before they invade you home, your childrens' schools, before 'they' can make it seem only right for your children to turn in their best friend or their family members for activities which were previously considered only marginally self-destructive.

Is this the Eye of the Needle, or the Camel's Nose under the tent of Personal Privacy?