Saturday, June 01, 2013

"Is this the first time you've won a million dollars?"

'Wheel of Fortune': California woman becomes second winner ever to take home $1 million | Fox News:


It seems .... one woman really knows when to spin and when to solve. On Thursday night’s episode of “Wheel of Fortune” Autumn Ernhard became the second contestant in the show’s history to take home $1 million. The hefty prize was on the wheel in honor of the game show’s 30th anniversary. Ernhard was selected to participate in an episode this week because she is 30 years old.

I really couldn't resist.  This is a testiment for those of us spend our lives accepting as "normal" the concept that winning the Lottery is our "Retirement Plan".

Shooting is dangerous. We all get that, right?

Slow Learner Syndrome: Why we keep making the same mistakes | Shooting Wire:

This is an extract from Paul Markel's May 31, 2013 guest column in The Shooting Wire's  email/blog.  I include it because it is the testimony of a man who has been in training shooters, and has seen the cause, event and consequences of training "events".   He is familiar with the circumstances, and provides an object lesson for those of us who train for, and compete in, Action Shooting Competitions:
..... While serving with the Sixth Marine Regiment a pistol was discharged by a fellow Marine negligently and the bullet passed within a foot of my head. Using the Near Miss Policy we can come up with two positive learning points. First, the shooter in question, although violating the "Treat Every Gun as if it is loaded" rule, followed the "Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to shoot" rule. (For that I am grateful). 

 During the after action, the shooter stated that he "assumed" the chamber was empty even though he knew there was a loaded magazine in the pistol. Because of the policy of carrying firearms in "Condition 3" (magazine inserted, chamber empty until instructed to "load") the man thought it would be "safe" to snap the trigger. 

 In the aftermath the young man received company punishment but the "Condition 3" rule was never addressed. The institutional mentality was that it was the fault of the man, not the policy. In the clarity of hindsight, I can say it was a bit of both. Carrying half-loaded guns leads to a false sense of "safety". It's a sort of "I don't need to be as careful as I would with a loaded gun, because it's not really loaded." No one ever had a negligent discharge and said "Damn, I thought the gun was loaded."
In case anyone has missed the point, Mr. Markel is making a point for "Hot Ranges".

IPSC ranges are always "Cold Ranges".  That means that all firearms are completely unloaded at all times, except when they are loaded on the firing ling under the direct supervision of a qualified Range Officer.  And it is the Range Officer's duty to ensure that all firearms are again completely unloaded before the competitor is allowed to exit the shooting area.   To complete the definition ... although all weapons are required to be unloaded, they will at all times be treated as if they were loaded ... with a round in the chamber, and the safety off.  If any action by the firearm owner should endanger the owner or another person (eg: by pointing the weapon at him/herself, or at another person, or in a direction which might endanger another person), then that firearm owner is summarily ejected from the match.

This is regardless of whether the firearms is loaded, or whether an actual threat was evinced.

"Cold Ranges" are the diametric opposite of "Hot Ranges".

In a "Hot Range", not only are all firearms assumed to be loaded .. they are, in fact, loaded.  All of the time.  Everywhere they go.

The range rules may vary.  They may in fact allow the firearm owner to be carried unloaded, but they are assumed to be loaded.  Whether dismissal from the match may be a likely penalty if a competitor is found to not have actually chambered a round is a "Local" or "Club" or "Range" rule.  To my personal knowledge, there are no non-military ranges in The United States which typically impose the "Hot Range" rule on competitors.  Military ranges?  One would expect that this would not be an entirely unlikely circumstance, under certain training circumstances, for certain military training organizations.

IPSC:  "It's A GAME, Folks!"
Military: "WE Deal In LEAD, Friend!"

(Get the picture?)

Mr. Merkel's point is that particularly in this specific example, involving professional shooters training for combat ... the "Condition Three" scenario (magazine inserted, but no round in the chamber) is a very poor third choice.

If the firearm is loaded, and you know it is, you have this lizard-brain understanding that it is NOT a good idea to drop the hammer by pulling the trigger, unless it is your intention to shoot something.  This is the "Hot Range" philosophy, reinforced by immediate Bad Things Happening.''

If the firearm is not loaded, and you know it is not loaded, your lizard-brain doesn't come into play because you (as the shooter) understand that there are no circumstances under which you are allowed to pull the trigger, unless you are in a position where you are expected to fire a round.  (Cavaet:  in IPSC you are permitted to dry-fire at a Safety Table:  but no ammunition may be handled there, and no loaded magazines may be inserted into the firearm.)

Mr. Merkel's point (and yes, I am beating this dog to death) is that a "Condition Three" version of a Hot Range is the worst possible compromise between a Hot Range and a Cold Range.   That is, it subtly encourages the shooter to assume that a round has not been chambered in the firearm, even if he knows that a loaded magazine has been inserted.

Obviously, as the fact of Merkel's statements show, this entices a shooter to act unwisely under a false impression.

We all understand that point, when we begin to compete in IPSC competition.  If we don't, we don't get to compete because our trainers would not certify us to compete in actual matches. 

In my own training experience, I keep a very close eye on each member of the monthly class.  If he appears to be making such an unwarranted assumption (eg: "I don't think the gun is loaded, so I am free to act as if it is not loaded") I will stop him/her immediately, and perform whatever remedial action seem most appropriate. Usually, it is a "shaming".  Peer Pressure is a powerful force when attempting to teach new practitioners in Dangerous Sports.   When the student competitor is castigated loudly and openly in front of the rest of the class, the chances are that one of two decisions will be made by that student:
  1. He/She will NEVER do that (whatever) Bad Thing Again!
  2. or He/She may complete the class, but will never attempt to actually compete in the sport.
Either is acceptable.

On the personal level, I think Runnin' & Gunnin' is the most fun you can have with your clothes on, and I want everyone to do it!

On the semi-pro level, I understand that not everyone can do it.  They should not even try.

It's my job to sort out the  20% who should not, from the 80% who can.

Looking over my training statistics for the past couple of years,  I see that for every 100 people who go through the class, 55% safely completed their first match.  They may or may not have come back for repeated matches, but they have proved to IPSC and to themselves that they can do this.  Sometimes, that's all they had in mind.  It's just another item to be checked off their Bucket List.

The next highest statistic is the 40% who never even came out to their Certification Match.  Again, we don't know what their reason for taking the class may have been, but it probably wasn't so that they could compete in matches.  It's impossible to tell which decided that IPSC wasn't for them (Too dangerous? Too many rules?  Too difficult?  Too ashamed?) There is no feedback from these students, so we can only guess why they decided not to follow up.

And does it really matter?

I don't think so.  I think they had something to prove to themselves, and they accomplished their goal, and then just ... walked.  Good for them, I wish them a happy life.

The other 5%?
I don't know.  They certified, but never came back.  It was a sport which did not meet their expectations, or .. whatever.

Among that 5% a small percentage who were DQ'd on their first match.  And this is the very interesting group.  There is the predictable minority who (apparently) felt offended that they couldn't measure up, but came back again "anyway" and kept at it until they certified.  A few came back again and became regular competitors.  Most just quietly faded into the background, and we never saw them again.

I'm projecting here, there is no empirical evidence to support my supposition, but I thank that those who quit on the first or second failure understood that they could not perform to the safety standards imposed by the sport, and so they voluntarily removed themselves.

A very few were so determined  (and I'm talking in terms of less than one percent of the original students) that they forced themselves to get better .. SAFER .. with experience.

It's unfortunate that a significant percentage of those few people eventually lose interest.  Although the rest of us might not have agreed if we had been asked, they seem to have considered themselves "marginal" and lost interest.  Our sport is poorer, perhaps, because of their lack of determination. But apparently this is not a sport for the Faint Of Heart.


On the other hand, there are those who have no concept of safety, of competition, or of the basic "gun-handling" concepts.  We welcome them for their valiant effort to prove themselves, but we value them more for the wisdom they demonstrated when they just .. quit.  They constitute less than 1% of the students I see, and I think they are the most realistic of those who "want to give it a go".

Again, from Mr. Merkel:

I recall being on a military training range and listening to the designated safety officer give the mandatory pre-training brief. "The most important thing on the range today is safety." He droned on with his lecture. My later comment was that the safety statement was a lie or at least a gross distortion. If the most important thing on the range was safety then we wouldn't be training at all and certainly wouldn't be issuing out live ammunition to the troops. Any time bullets are being launched there is an element of danger present.

Shuffleboard is safe, shooting is dangerous. And, you know what? Skydiving is dangerous, as is deep-sea diving, motocross, bull-riding, playing football, hockey, soccer, etc. Every one of those activities is accompanied by a certain amount of risk and yet people participate in them every day. If your end goal was absolute safety, you could never get out of bed in the morning.
 If ABSOLUTE Safety was the most important goal, teen-age boys would never play high-school football.  Usually, they do so because they don't understand how dangerous the sport can be.

In IPSC we make sure that every one understands the danger.  If they can't handle it,or if they can't learn ... we don't often have to TELL anyone that they can't cut it.  They know.  The Safety Rules are so strict, everyone soon becomes aware that SAFETY IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING!

"Dangerous" people learn to avoid dangerous sports.
Which is probably why I keep showing up.

I'm a confirmed coward!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Smart Phones, Part Dux

As advertised yesterday, I did follow through on my decision to bow my neck before the gods of technology.

I bought a Samsung Galaxy II ... very carefully avoiding the III or IV versions even though I got the phone for free as an update.

It'll cost me a little more in the short run, because my contract for the 'old' hotspot device doesn't run out for another month.  But when it does, my cell phone bill will be cut in half.

For this I get:
  • Unlimited Cell Phone (well .. 450 minutes a month; I typically use maybe half that depending on whether my son and I start talking guns during our weekly chats)
  • 2 GB storage per month (downloads et al, y'know); 1GB for the phone, 1GB for the hotspot function
  • Unlimited Text
  • Hotspot linkage to either .. or both .. of my computers; up to over 100 computers
  • Email, up to a couple hundred of accounts (they don't provide the accounts, they just let me access all of my email accounts)
  • Photo (still and video) with ability to download to my computer
  • GPS .. including maps and directions
  • more music and photo storage, if I want to install a memory chip (up to 32 GB)
  • ... and a bunch of stuff I still haven't figured out.
That last bit is the kicker.  The damned SmartPhone is smarter than I am.  No instructions ... you have to go online to find it. I have been given to understand (from my SmartDaughter) that this is typical with the purchase of a new smart phone.  Very little of the operating procedures, judging by my experiences so far today, are 'intuitively obvious'.  Well, it took me 2 years to learn my last-generation phone functions, so I'm not totally discouraged.

I am, however, totally frustrated.

SmartDaughter informs me (my first phone call was to her; if it was an email message, it would have the subject-line "Help me!  I've Fallen And I Can't Get Up!") that is also the experienced of the typical first-time user of a SmartPhone (here-after "SF").

She told me her husband, Ryan Lord Randal My Son-in-Law, was pulling his hair out when he first tried to use the SF she gave him.    She implied ... but carefully did not AVER ... that he got use to it.  Well, he's as Irish as one man can be, and as we are assured by Mark Twain:  "You can't hit a dog with an Irishman; the dog's too smart!"

I must admit that Ryan Lord Randal My Son-in-Law is at least as smart as most of the canines of my acquaintance, which puts him leagues ahead of me, but I'm a quarter Irish so I'm not giving up yet.

Well, actually, I did give up.  I quit fisking around with the Devil's Instrument SF about 8pm.  It's 10pm now, and I've spent the past two hours reading my mail .. on my PC, not on my SF. (THAT effort didn't last too long!  I got to install one Email address on the SF, but I couldn't read the stuff.  MUST ... IGNORE ... THE FIST ... OF DEATH!)

SmartDaughter promised to phone me when they get back from the dinner party they are going to.  She'll get me on the SF.

I just hope I can figure out how to actually accept the call by then.


Oh, I almost forgot to add:

When I finally get use to this ... thing ... I can quit carrying around:
  • my old cell phone
  • my old digital camera
  • my old 'hotspot' device
..l. and I do NOT have to buy a new GPS device, which was what I had been thinking of doing.

However, I am still carrying around my MP3 player.

Maybe when I get through all the online "instructionals", I can replace that as well.

SmartDaughter taught me a new phrase today:

There's an APP for that!

I'm pretty sure I'm going to learn to hate that phrase.


Smart Phones:  A Good Idea, or The Devil's Workshop?

I just solidified plans to replace my 5-year-old cell phone with a smart phone.  And I think it was the smart thing to do.

Let me explain:

For the past umpteen (apply whatever time frame you like) I have been mildly dismissive of people who owned "Smart Phones".

On the other hand, I gave up my land-line ("Ma Bell") phone ten years ago, because it was costing me more money every month than seemed worthwhile to me.  I could get a cell phone for a low price, and the monthly rate was no higher than the land-line, but I had "Options".

Like .. texting.  Not that I expected to ever use THAT teen-age crush.  (Okay, I was wrong about that.)

And Caller ID?  I once paid $50 for a device which attached to my landline phone and ... oh, never mind.  Yes, it's obsolete and currently residing in the bottom of a cardboard box in my field-mouse-infested garage.  Call it the "graveyard of Nameless Hardware", because I don't know where else to put useless/obsolete hardware.  Like .. the skeletons of the last five (yes, I counted them) pc's I've owned, and have died or ... well, they were obsolete about the time they died.  Is there a conspiracy between Hardware and Software providers?

The new cell phone had that as a "Feature".  Who knew?

And I could enter all of my friends and family phone numbers almost automatically, at the touch of a button, if they phoned me at least once.  Didn't get THAT with my land-line!

Never mind.  Like the dying of electric light bulbs after four months of service,  I am becoming .. well, not "comfortable" but at least "Less Uncomfortable" with the assumption that Planned Obsolescence is part of the American Way.  As a confirmed curmudgeon, I have declined to accept that "things" are getting better.  I'm just quietly (although not today, perhaps) accepting the improvements of electronic devices.

I even bought a "hotspot" device a couple of years ago from Verizon.  it allows me to get online with my laptop computer, no matter where I am.  So, on my infrequent trips out of  Geekistan, I can still access necessary internet resources ---  such as Mapquest, which helps me to find where I am and where I'm trying to get to.

Not that I ever get lost on the road. 

But I'm paying $60 a month for my not-very-smart phone, and another $50 a month for my phone-based internet connection. (This is on top of my cable connection to my desktop computer:  It's fast, it's not unendurably stupid, and it only costs me another $50 a month.)

Sometime in the dark of the night, just now, I began to wonder why I am paying for two devices (my cell phone and my "hotspot" device), which may or may not be able to provide me overlapping services but which are separately billed.  It didn't seem like such a good idea, when I considered that I only use my hotspot when I find it either inconvenient or unnecessary to use it most times, except when I'm traveling. And let's face it, Geeks don't get out much.

So I got onto the (desktop) computer and started asking questions of the cell phone provider.  Like .. why am I paying for two devices, when both of my primary functions (phone + text, and internet access "on the road") should logically be available for one single device?

The answer I got was .. no reason.  I can get a Droid for $50 a month, and it gives me both options.

Wow!  That's less than half of what I'm paying now!

Okay, they (the online consultant) didn't say that was the ONLY charge;  I'm sure I have to pay extra for the internet connection.  But the connectivity is at the same 12MBPS data exchange rate I'm already enjoying with my "hot spot" connector, and I only have to keep track of one device. Given that I'm old and forgetful, that's one less way to go wrong.

The 'bonus', if bonus there be, would be in the extended features of the phone itself; photo storage, for example; and since I'm already paying for the internet connection, I can save my phone-photos to a place where I can access them anywhere.  One less device to carry .. my digital camera!

Perhaps I haven't yet discerned all the ways in which my phone provider can screw me, but given that I will be retaining my cable computer connection (it's WAY faster!), I'm not too worried about that yet.  I'll have to see what the final costs work out to be, and the best way to minimize costs appear to be that I not over-use the options.  They're there, I can use them, but I still have low-cost alternatives when time and convenience are the issue.

I'm pretty sure about all of this, while I acknowledge that I may find some (many?) hidden costs in the future.

For now .. I'm going to my local  phone store tomorrow, and I intend to buy a new smart phone.  I'll make sure that the features I'm looking for are available, of course, but I want to simplify my life, not complicate it.  if the available plans aren't as I expect, I can always change my mind.  Right now, I have 450 minutes on my current "plan", and I'm spending not so much more than I was on the landline.

This is getting to be too long a post. I'll try it out tomorrow (in the day time today) and let you know how it turns out.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Afghan massacre

AP Exclusive: Soldier to admit Afghan massacre | General Headlines | Comcast: SEATTLE (AP) —

 The Army staff sergeant charged with slaughtering 16 villagers in one of the worst atrocities of the Afghanistan war will plead guilty to avoid the death penalty in a deal that requires him to recount the horrific attack for the first time, his attorney told The Associated Press on Wednesday. 

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales was "crazed" and "broken" when he slipped away from his remote southern Afghanistan outpost and attacked mud-walled compounds in two slumbering villages nearby, lawyer John Henry Browne said. But his client's mental state didn't rise to the level of a legal insanity defense, Browne said, and Bales will plead guilty next week. 

The outcome of the case carries high stakes. The Army had been trying to have Bales executed, and Afghan villagers have demanded it. In interviews with the AP in Kandahar last month, relatives of the victims became outraged at the notion Bales might escape the death penalty

"For this one thing, we would kill 100 American soldiers," vowed Mohammed Wazir, who had 11 family members killed that night, including his mother and 2-year-old daughter.

"A prison sentence doesn't mean anything," said Said Jan, whose wife and three other relatives died. "I know we have no power now. But I will become stronger, and if he does not hang, I will have my revenge."

Look at the smirk on that ugly mug.

In this 'kindler, gentler world', the satanic leer might be emblematic of Bales determination to escape the death penalty.   One wonders what more he could tell the court to make it worth allowing him to continue his existence at the cost of justice.

I don't blame the testifying survivor for being outraged at the news that Bales may possibly not be executed for his crimes; if anyone deserves the death penalty, it is a mass murderer capable of expressing his rage so destructively.

Near as I can tell, the Army is waffling because not all steps in the legal process has been completed. 
It's hard to be sure now days, when Our Dear Leaders tend to conflate terrorists with criminals.

"Jan" and others are making threats which may be specific to their culture, but the concept of "an eye for an eye" is not foreign to the American culture, either.  Maybe it's a little primitive to threaten American soldiers in retaliation, but maybe it's a little primitive to retaliate against all Islamic Terrorists for the actions on 9/11.   (On the other hand we suffered from terrorist attacks by Islamic Terrorists for decades before America finally, finally declared war on the beast.)

What's that you say? The comparison is wrong?    We can't equate the two?  Perhaps on a difference of scale, certainly, and certainly the actions of Sgt. Bales were those of a single terrorist while 9/11 was a coordinated assault planned and executed by an coherent organization.  And no, I'm not saying it's "right" to kill American soldiers because the American Army refuses to do the right thing.

What I AM saying, is ...
Baloney!  Terrorism is similar to pornography in the sense that it's hard to get a definition that everyone can agree on, but we know it when we see it.  The penalty should be the same for all terrorists; prove their guilt and string 'em up.   Our terrorists are no better than their terrorists.    So if the American army thinks it's "justice" to let this terrorist live, we might as well send everyone home from Gitmo.

There's a political reason for executing terrorists, and that's so that we establish America as a society which has the sense to abhor all terrorists equally.

There's a realpolitik reason for executing OUR terrorists, and that's so we don't make ourselves look like a terrorist supporting society.  You know, like the reason we invaded Iraq?

And there's an ethical reason for executing terrorists;   "Thou Shalt Not suffer a mass murderer to live."  It's in the Bible,  you can look it up.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Man shot dead at Florida shooting range | Fox News:
LAKELAND, Fla. – Authorities are awaiting the autopsy results for a man fatally wounded at a central Florida shooting range. 

The Polk County Sheriff's Office says Larry Simpson of Clermont died of a single gunshot wound to the chest while shooting clays with a friend at the Tenoroc Mine Shooting Range in Lakeland. 

According to detectives, Jaime Gonzalez of Orlando said he was at the shooting station and Simpson was operating the remote control for the clay machine. Gonzalez told detectives that he heard a shot directly behind him, and he turned around to find Simpson with a gunshot wound to his chest. Simpson's gun was lying beside him. 

Deputies say Simpson died at the scene Sunday. Sheriff's office spokesman Scott Wilder says detectives did not know how Simpson was shot.
 How do you shoot yourself, in the chest, with a shotgun ... accidentally?  Or even deliberately?

Come ON, people!

Shooting clays?  All I know is that accuracy counts in the sport of Shooting Clays, and many of the targets are exceedingly ... challenging.  So we're talking ... what?  A 28" barrel on his shotgun?

(Somebody who knows what they're talking about, help me out here, please.)

I mean, did anyone look at his feet.  Did the victim take off his shoes and socks so he could pull the trigger with his big toe?

I've been watching reruns of Ellery Queen on DVD, and we're at that exciting moment near the close of the show where Ellery turns to the camera and says ...

"WTF?  How can this be an accident?"

Ellery, please advise the Polk County Sheriff's office to take a very close look at  Jaime Gonzalez of Orlando .

He's not telling all he knows.

Frankly, if Mr. Simpson was  operating the clay-throwing machine thing-a-my-bob, he didn't have his shotgun anywhere near him.

Anyone who says he did, should run for President; he's a qualified politician.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Nobody knows the trouble I've seen ..

Okay, so I'm having too much fun.

At least it's short not "Geek Length"!

"Plants vs Zombies" ... Two?

EA's New Game on Facebook - Analyst Blog - Zacks Investment Research:
Electronic Arts’ (EA) PopCap Games has recently released the first social game of its popular Plants vs. Zombies franchise named Plants vs. Zombies Adventures. The game can be played exclusively on Facebook (FB). The social version of the game has new contents comprising 10 new zombies, 11 new plants and new human characters with 12 road trip maps heavily infested with zombies. It also has new techniques to counter the Zombie invasion by using new power ups such as Zombie Zapper, Gardening Glove and Mega-Perk, Dynamite. The original game Plants vs. Zombies can be played in all possible platforms and Consoles. Now, the additional platform and the increase in consumer preferences to play casual and social games will likely prove to be catalysts for the game, going forward. Moreover, the sequel, Plants vs. Zombies 2, is slated for a summer release.
Where have we gone wrong?

As friends, as family, as co-workers ...

What have we done, to deserve this?

Okay, I don't know if you're the kind of person who regularly finds links like this in your in-basket, but to treat such blurge as this is if it were legitimate content?




... Someone has entirely too much free time on his/her hands.


I'll let you know how it looks, after I've played it for a few weeks.


PS:  FaceBook IS The Devil!  (Remember .. you heard it here first)

Flying Car, via "The Jetsons"

Video: Is the age of the flying car about to arrive? � The Greenroom:
Let’s face it — a lot of us who grew up on the Jetsons feel pretty ripped off these days, especially while sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic. However, this video report from Reuters suggests that we may soon see a practical option for a flying car:

see any similarities?

Buying a Firearm in Australia

Jigsaw's Thoughts: New Rifle Purchase Process - Stage 3 complete!!!!:
I go to the letterbox this morning and remove the letters. I'm flicking through the various letters while walking back to the house and notice the distinctive colouring of my firearms licence through the envelope's window. And I think to myself "Firearms licence .. that isn't due for renewal until July." 

THEN I REALISE IT'S THE PAPERWORK FOR MY NEW RIFLE ...  Rip open envelope and there is the additional page (to add to my firearms licence) showing my new rifle and the co-licence for Shooting Buddy's !!!!! Woo hooooooooooooooooooo Now to go pick up guns ... not sure when I can get away ....
[Update: That's a new record - less than a month since the paperwork went in (April 17th) to piece of paper in hand!!! Makes me want to go buy something else to see if it will be even quicker!]

I'm delighted for "Jigsaw" because she got the paperwork allowing her to expand her firearms license in Australia to include a new rifle.

But I admit to heaving a heavy sigh when the implication of her joy sinks in.  Like many people in this tired, cynical world, her (national) government still insists that she jump through bureaucratic hoops, and wait for weeks for permission to buy a new firearm.

Note that this is described as an addition to her firearms license; which implies that she has already established her bona fides as a legitimate, non-felonious, sane citizen who presents no reason why she couldn't own firearms without constituting a 'danger to society'.

It takes a MONTH to review records to re-confirm that fact?  And she is demonstrably ecstatic that the 'permission'  has been 'granted'  "... in less than one month"?

I knew that many countries deliberately impose a bureaucratic "waiting period" before acknowledging a pre-established understanding that their citizens are not some kind of disaster waiting to happen.  I had not realized, however, that (either through bureaucratic lethargy, or an actual policy to establish a prima facia "waiting period") it could take so long that a single month processing time seems to be grounds for jubilation.

Here in America, we endured a period when "permission" to purchase a firearm took a week.  Now, it's an "instant background check" process, when all we need to do is to confirm that we are not a felon, or lunatic, to decide whether we were a risk to society.  I don't like having to establish that I'm not a menace to society, but I do understand the need to confirm that these two most dangerous kind of person is weeded out of the gun-owner category.

Still, it makes me grit my teeth every time I am run through the NICS system -- while at the same time I appreciate that the Idiot who lives next door is, by the very process which I deplore, prevented from possessing a firearm which he is demonstrably unable to handle safely because of his proven instability.

To have the process take a month or more before my right to own a firearm, and that in the light of the fact that I have proven myself a stable, honest citizen ... I find that to be onerous to the point of insult.

By extension, I'm appalled that this Australian Citizen of Good Repute must endure egregious delays EVERY time she decides to buy a new firearm.

There's something flawed in this process.  It's so badly flawed, that Australian citizens are pleased that it takes no longer than four or five weeks.  (Yes, yes, I know; it would be worse if she lived in Canada, and even worse if she were an English citizen.)

Most countries in the world have established terrible restrictions on their citizens, including Licensing and Registration.  Sadly, there are states in America which still (in defiance of the clear intent of our Constitutional Rights) impose similar ... or worse! ... limitations.

I look forward to the day when the Second Amendment in America is treated with the same respect as is the other 9 Amendments in the Bill of Rights:

  1. 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.
  2. 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
  3. No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
  4. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
  5. No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
  6. In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
  7. In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.  
  8. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
  9. The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
  10. The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.      
There are things that I do not .. approve of .. in my country.  But the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, are not among these things.

When a government arbitrates against the rights of The People, against the (unfounded) rights of The Stated, then ANY bureaucratic obstacle which infringes upon the Rights of The People should be decided in favor of The People.

Our governments ... both American and Australian (and all others) should, in my opinion, always  decide in favor of The People.  They are our servants; not we, theirs.

Unfortunately, this is not always -- sometimes, not usually -- the case.

Most people who are free, and who understand &  appreciate the concept of Individual Freedom, might accept that although individuals are always flawed, governments are always more flawed.  Any governments which seems to work "flawlessly" are, in fact, elitist if not tyrannical.

“Whenever you have an efficient government you have a dictatorship. ”  
- Harry S. Truman

In fact (with respect to President Harry), in the case of restricting Firearms Ownership by imposing draconian bureaucratic impediments on the process .. you have the reverse; it's not just a dictatorship, it's a dictatorship by the un-elected.

It's The Constitution, Stupid!

President Barack Obama's speech at National Defense University – full text | World news |

[extracted: direct quote from the speech]

The Justice Department's investigation of national security leaks offers a recent example of the challenges involved in striking the right balance between our security and our open society. As Commander-in Chief, I believe we must keep information secret that protects our operations and our people in the field. To do so, we must enforce consequences for those who break the law and breach their commitment to protect classified information. But a free press is also essential for our democracy. I am troubled by the possibility that leak investigations may chill the investigative journalism that holds government accountable. 

Journalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs. Our focus must be on those who break the law. That is why I have called on Congress to pass a media shield law to guard against government over-reach. I have raised these issues with the Attorney General, who shares my concern. So he has agreed to review existing Department of Justice guidelines governing investigations that involve reporters, and will convene a group of media organizations to hear their concerns as part of that review. And I have directed the Attorney General to report back to me by July 12th.

The title chosen for this "essay" is seems provocative, inflammatory, and insulting in that it seems to call the POTUS "stupid".   It was chosen, of course, for the obvious reference to the expression "It's the Economy, Stupid!"   Since this catch-phrase has been used for political purposes by both major parties since Clinton's campaign for the presidency (through the 2012 presidential campaigns), it seems fair to protect its use based on the defense that it isn't intended to reflect on the mental acuity of the obvious target.

I'm not saying that President Obama is stupid.

I am saying he is treating the American People as if he thinks that we are stupid.

My goodness, do we really need a "Media Shield Law" to protect reporters ... from predation by the Federal Government?   Do we really need POTUS, to boldly go where no man has gone before?

The First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America protects reporters.   If they can't depend on their constitutional rights .... no, let's turn this around:

If our government won't respect the First Amendment, why should we expect it to respect a law?

As an analogy, if congress would pass a "Firearms Owner's Shield Law" permitting you and I to possess and carry firearms,  how many hundreds  of pages would be required to define the limits of that law?   Given the propensity of the Obama Administration to convolute and obfuscate the issues in the issuance of laws (is the reference to ObamaCare too subtle here?) isn't it reasonable to expect that such a law would have more hidden implications which would permit governmental limitation on media freedoms, than protections for the media?

Oh dear, it sounds as if I'm now suggesting that the President is duplicitous, doesn't it?

According to a May 27, 2013 TOWNHALL report by Michael Barone, referring to Obama's use of the Espionage Act of 1917:

Barack Obama and his Justice Department ... have used the Espionage Act of 1917 six times to bring cases against government officials for leaks to the media -- twice as many as all their predecessors combined.

Let's review recent history:  Because the current administration feared that "governmental" representatives may have "leaked" potentially dangerous information to "media" representatives, he (The President) directed that the business and personal phone records of hundreds  of "media" representatives be examined to find the leak.

Now he [finger quote] feels bad [end finger quote] about that, and to demonstrate that he is sincerely contrite, he wants you and me to believe that he has " ... called on Congress to pass a media shield law to guard against government over-reach ... ".

 In the words of a former First Lady (FLOTUS), can't he "Just Say No"?

Tomorrow's headline: 
"Geek Blogger Calls On Congress To Pass a 'Presidential Shield Law' To Guard Against Blogger Over-reach".

Does this headline make my ass look big?