Saturday, March 01, 2014

Gang of knife-wielding men kill 27 in attack on China train station

Gang of knife-wielding men kill 27 in attack on China train station | Fox News: BEIJING –
(March 1, 2014)
 Knife-wielding assailants attacked people at a train station in southwestern China on Saturday in what authorities called a terrorist attack and police fatally shot five of the assailants, leaving 28 people dead and 113 injured, state media said. China's official Xinhua News Agency did not identify who might have been responsible for the late-evening attack at the Kunming Railway Station in Yunnan province, but said authorities considered it to be "an organized, premeditated violent terrorist attack."
Later news reports have upped the 'injury' toll to 130+.  This is no time for a mere Oregon Blogger to get smarmy.  This was a "massacre", in every sense of the word, and you can throw "senseless" into the equation as well.  Surely, there will be later reports which will attempt to explain what seems to be a senseless tragedy.  It must have made sense to some people ... if only to the ones with the knives.

So far, nobody is saying this is "muslim terrorism", or "lone shooter" terrorism, or  (name your favorite brand of destructive idiocy here: ________).  China press is kind of refreshing, in a way, because they just said what happened and are sometimes kind of slow at applying the 'spin'.)

Look at it like this:  people kill people for reasons which are not always intuitively obvious .. everywhere!

In China, apparently, they use knives instead of guns, because guns are kind of hard to get to in a Totalitarian State.

In other states, they use guns, because the state in which they live is perhaps a bit less totalitarian.

Every state has massacres, sooner or later, for easily identifiable reasons (on a societal scale, such as an undeclared civil war) or for reasons which are not easily identifiable (in that case we often refer to individuals who perpetrate such acts as "lone shooters" or "madmen".)

It's not necessary to complicate the situation.  Some people are okay, some are crazy, but usually the perpetrator/s is/are easily defined as ... EVIL.

Can we agree that murder is evil?  Can we agree that mass murder (usually defined as "3 or more victims in a single event at a single locality") is evil?

We typically use the term "massacre" when some people kill a lot of people .. unnecessarily and indiscriminately.  (The Dictionary definition of the word "massacre" includes these three elements ... quantity, need, discrimination.)

Somebody shooting up a shopping mall, a school, an airport, a church ... you know the list.  You've read the hysterical press reports.


In America (Australia/England/Canada/India/Russia .. etc), we usually see one or more people casually walking through a "target-rich environment", shooting shoppers, students or worshipers, whomever they see.

In places where firearms are highly restricted, you don't see that.

Instead, you see poison gas, or knives.

The so-called "Civilized" countries employ a privileged class which, as one of their job descriptions, is charged with the duty of protecting their citizenry from such attacks.  This privileged class is collectively termed "Politicians".   They are the winners of a beauty contest, whose sole claim to their position is their popularity.

This politicians have decided that the best way to stop massacres is to forbid their constituents from possessing the most efficient means of slaughter:  firearms.

We see by the results, and the Massacre at this train station in China is a sterling example, that their efforts are only able to keep the innocents from being able to defend themselves.  The slaughter will continue, so to speak, until there are no innocents left.  (The "Madmen" are a self-perpetuating sub-species .. perhaps as a consequence of the same policies created unilaterally by the politicians?

Would it be too outrageous to suggest that the police are very good at picking up corpses, but not very good at preventing these 'social events' which we call Masssacres?

Some of us cannot help wondering whether, if The State did not prohibit the means of self protection .. would these Massacres be less frequent?  After all, if a group of knife-wielding IDIOTS knew that there might be wolves rather than lambs in the flock whom they had chosen to attack ... might they be less inclined to initiate the attack?

But no, the Politicians and the Hoi Palloi who elect/select/endure them more frequently determine that the best way to protect "the People" is to restrict private ownership of firearms.  As if responsible people who are armed would typically act out their murderous fantasies if they were armed.

On cannot help but wonder if the body-bag count would be higher if everyone was required to be armed, and to demonstrate both proficiency and sobriety on a regular basis?

If a Government decided that this (arming citizens) was "A Good idea", what would we have?


Would that be so bad?

Unless you were a politician, of course.  But then, NOBODY thinks that the agenda of the Politician puts their body guarded-protected ass ahead of the proletariat which they have sworn to protect and defend.

Who would be so stupid as to establish a nation whose politicians' primary duty was to the welfare of The People?   Whatever it takes?

And who would long believe them, if they did?

One wonders.

USPSA: Building Membership Geometrically

Those readers who have followed this blog for more than a couple of months are aware ... sometimes painfully* aware ... that I not only teach an "INTRODUCTION TO USPSA" class at my local gun club, but I also tend to report on these training sessions. 

*(the 'painful' part is that sometimes I'm unable to curb my enthusiasm when writing these reports).

Today's "First Saturday" class was refreshing in a couple of ways.

First, every one of the six class members was competent, knowledgeable and exhibited excellent gun-handling skills. Compare that to my first class  several years ago (13 students, no helpers, and at least half of the participants had little or NO experience shooting their pistol; one didn't even know that his 1911-style pistol had a safety), and you will understand how refreshing it is when I hold a class and I don't find one single instance when a participant performs an "unsafe action".

Second, two of the participants had already taken the class! 
They enjoyed the experience to the degree that they not only had not only encouraged a friend to sign up for this month's class, but also accompanied their friend and took the entire class all over again!

While I would love to posit that this was due to the excellence of instruction (ahem), it was obvious that these are people who just LOVE to shoot, and in IPSC/USPSA have discovered a wonderful excuse for spending a day at the range and getting in a lot of trigger-time.

One of the Good Friends Who Brought Good Friends (Anthony) was a member of the February class.  Due to inclement weather (12-14" of snow, and ice on the freeways), the February club match was cancelled.  Anthony hadn't even been allowed to shoot a single match, but he not only convinced his friend to attend the class, but accompanied him because "it was too far to ask him to make the drive alone".

Some people will resort to any excuse, to spend the afternoon at the range.


We meet the nicest people "At The Range" ... and people wonder why we give free classes?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Ruby Goldberg?

If 3 Little Girls Did This To My House, I'd Do Everything I Could To Get Them Full Rides To Stanford: Fewer than 3 in 10 graduates in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are women. And barely 1 in 10 actual engineers are women. Early in a girl's life, the toys marketed to her are usually things that don't encourage her to enter those fields. GoldieBlox intends to change that by teaching them while they are young that these fields can be fun — and apparently epic, by the looks of this super-genius 2-minute video. Watch and learn.

Kewl.   Just .... KEWL!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Oh, Rats!

Calif. family sues Petco after 10-year-old boy dies from 'rat-bite fever' | Fox News:
(February 26, 2014)
SAN DIEGO – A San Diego family is suing Petco after the death of their 10-year-old son from a bacterial infection they say he contracted from his pet rat. Attorney John Gomez told The Associated Press on Tuesday that his firm filed the lawsuit Monday in San Diego County seeking an unspecified amount for the suffering endured by the Pankey family, whose son, Aidan, died June 12, 2013, hours after he was rushed to the hospital with severe stomach pains. The San Diego County medical examiner's office ruled that the cause of death was streptobacillus moniliformis infection, commonly known as rat-bite fever, after exposure to an infected rat.
Let me say this about rats as pets:

Not for kids.

First, full disclosure.  
I had a couple of rats in a cage when I was a kid.  I had no idea how to take care of them.  We kept them in my small play-room in the garage, and they smelled terrible.  I'm talking, "How Does A Goat Without A nose Smell?" terrible.

What do you do with a cage full of rats?  And most assuredly, if you have a mating pair of rats, you will end up with a cage full.

Can you let the run around the house?  No.  They'll get into the walls.  And poop.  A lot.

Can you hold them in your lap and fondle them?  Oh, wait ...

...The boy's grandmother purchased the male rat, which Aidan named Alex, because her only grandson wanted a mate for his female rat, Gomez said. The boy took the rat home May 27, 2013, and woke up the night of June 11 in severe pain with a fever and stomach problems. He was pale, lethargic and could barely walk, according to the lawsuit. He died at 1:09 a.m. the next day.
 Let's review:  Rats are smelly, dirty, ugly and disease-ridden.  They are vermin.  They are not appropriate pets for children.  (Or for adults, either; but hey! Whatever floats your boat.  Don't expect me to come visit a Rat-House, even if you are my New Best Friend.)

There's a phrase in the  Bible .. either Revelations or Liviticus, both chapters  are dour and gloomy, so I don't read them much .. which says something like "Thou Shalt Not Suffer A Witch To Live".   I don't  believe in witches, but I DO believe in RATS!

They don't belong in a home, and they are not pets.  The government which wants to legislate against civilian ownership of firearms (which is constitutionally protected) on the basis that "guns kill people" ... should start legislating against civilian ownership of rats ... which DO kill people!

Vile creatures which deserve our instinctive disgust, even if they DO serve a legitimate ecological purpose.

And that's all I have to say about this.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Jacksonville Sheriff supports tweaks to 'stand your ground' that include 'duty to retreat'

Jacksonville Sherriff supports tweaks to 'stand your ground' that include 'duty to retreat':
(February 21, 2014)
JACKSONVILLE, Florida — Jacksonville Sherriff John Rutherford says changes to Florida's "stand your ground" law are needed. Rutherford told the Florida Times-Union ( ) that he supports a tweaking of the controversial law that allows the use of deadly force if someone is threatened with death or great bodily harm. Rutherford previously supported the legislation, but says there should be some "duty to retreat" provision if it can be done safely.
 I'm actually feeling a little indecisive about my reaction to this article.

The reason for the Sheriff's objection was the strange case of Michael Dunn, who (in the parking lot of a Florida convenience store) opened fire on a carload of teens whom he had originally approached to ask them to turn their car music down.

In his disposition, Dunn testified that he thought he saw a firearm pointed at him, so he drew his (legal, in his home state) concealed firearm and fired at the car.

As the car drove away, Dunne shot several times ("9 or 10") in the direction of the car. One passenger was killed.

Dunne is now charged with a murder charge, plus extra 'attempted murder" charges .. one for each of the four passengers in the car.

Dunne's defense is that he saw someone in the car pointing a gun at him,

LEOs found no firearms in the car; only one person was hit by Dunn's shots, and that person died of his wounds.

Those of us (under-informed, but politically and concerned people) who are following the consequences of this November 23, 2012 incident have some questions:

  • Did Dunn actually believe he saw a firearm?  Was he in legitimate fear for his life, or did he just over-react?
  • Even if Dunn DID 'over-react', does that mean that the "Stand Your Ground' defense is irredeemably flawed?
  •  If he felt at the time of the shooting that he was justified, why did he drive 200 miles to his home in another state rather than stand his ground and answer to the responding officers?
  • These questions obviously need to be answered, but yet the Jacksonville Sheriff has taken a public stance which puts the 'Stand Your Ground' law at primary blame for this incident, before a jury has been allowed to evaluate the situation within a Florida court.   Why is he making these statements?
  • If  Dunn's "Stand Your Ground" defense is ultimately determined by the Florida Court System to be inadequate under these specific circumstances, does that mean that "Stand Your Ground" is fundamentally flawed?
  • Is the Jacksonville Sheriff milking this incident for personal publicity, or does he truly believe the concept is flawed?
  • Finally, if Dunn's defense under the "Stand Your Ground" rule is determined to be inapplicable in this specific incident, should the legal concept be abandoned?
Nobody knows the answers to all (any?) of these questions, yet.  That's because they are all directed at this particular case, and these specific circumstance.  Also, until the trial is over and the jury has returned a verdict (not so at this moment, according to my admittedly amateurish data search), we cannot get a handle on the specific situation, let alone an evaluation of the concept.

I would like to focus on the law, rather than the incident.

In my personal opinion, it is a boon to the population of Florida that they do not have a duty to retreat.  It may or may not have been applicable to this incident, but does that mean that the law is unacceptable?   Without the "Stand Your Ground" law, any citizen who defends himself without retreating is automatically "guilty".  The courts have little latitude.

However, with the "Stand Your Ground" law, the courts are obliged to carefully evaluate the circumstances, and the defendant is allowed a complete legal defense.

Yes, the defendant may be found to have over-reacted.  He may have actually NOT thought that he saw a gun .. he may have just got pissed off, fired up the car, and after the fact decided that the "Stand The Ground" law was his best defense.

How about the next time that the "Stand Your Ground" rule is brought into a courtroom?  What if a gun HAD been found in the car?  What if someone walking down the street was confronted with one or more gun-bearing hoodlums who openly stated their intention to kill him or her?  What if there was no place to which to 'retreat', and the incident was so obviously fraught with peril that the putative victum clearly had NO opportunity to "retreat"?

In that case, the innocent victim might have been found dead, by unknown assailants, because he was unsure of his legal ground to the right of self defense.

I'm not conflating the original situation with this hypothetical situation.  What I'm saying is that even if the defense in this situation turns out to be inapplicable, or even basely used to excuse behavior which might turn out to be inexcusable, it's quite easy to posit situations where the "Stand Your Ground" defense is entirely applicable ... so why would this LEO seek to abrogate the law?

I think the "Stand Your Ground" law should be allowed to stand, if only to provide a legitimate defense for those who find themselves in an untenable, where the only viable solution is to Fight Back .. NOW!

Anyone who thinks that this situation would not present himself .. especially the Sheriff of Jacksonville County (who is personally covered in any situation, because of the power of his position) should reconsider the position of the .,, literally .. Power of his Position.


No Constitution On Campus

California college student teaches school $50,000 lesson on Constitution | Fox News:
A California college student who was blocked last year from handing out copies of the Constitution gave his school a lesson in civics and the law, winning a $50,000 settlement and an agreement to revise its speech codes. Robert Van Tuinen, 26, settled with Modesto Junior College just five months after his run-in with school officials on Sept. 17 – National Constitution Day. Van Tuinen said he’s more excited about getting the school to revise its speech codes, which previously confined the First Amendment to a small area students had to sign up to use.

Van Tuinen, 26, is a veteran.  He volunteered for military service, and he swore the same oath which all service members take upon induction to " ... defend and protect the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic ..." even to the point of giving up his own life in battle.

Some people tend to discount the part about "enemies, foreign and domestic" as if it were unrealistic to expect Americans to become an enemy of the Constitution.

But the college in the town he grew up in determined, arbitrarily and unilaterally, that they had an institutional right to control, limit, abrogate and infringe upon his right to speak as guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America. 

The purpose of "higher education" is to teach people how to think critically.  Toward that end, colleges and universities provide knowledge, which is a tool in critical thinking.

Unfortunately, Colleges don't have classes in "Civics", which I was taught (very long ago) in High School.   There, among other knowledge, we learned about Government and important documents ... among them, the Constitution.

Do they still teach Civics in High Schools?   Do College Administrators have any background training in this area?

I love college students.  I worked on a university campus for over 15 years, and I learned to view students as fluffy puppies; still a little awkward in their gait when they stretch their legs,  still quite full of themselves, but full of delight as they discover a new thing every day.

I admire veterans.  They've learned the real "higher education".  The know that sometimes you have to fight for what you believe in.

Van Tuinen, and other veterans who go back to school after the complete their term of service, are the Best of the Best.  They marry academic  curiosity with practical experience, and sometimes they teach their fellow students lessons which are not otherwise available in Academia.   Veteran Scholars bring real-world experience, and maturity, to campus life.  These are traits which are not usually not part of the 18 - 23 year-olds who are their fellow students.

And sometimes, they can have a lesson for Academia itself, in the person of the people who make the rules about what you can and cannot do on campus.

Why Piers Morgan flopped

Gun Control Misfire, Sinking Ratings: Why Piers Morgan flopped | Fox News

Piers Morgan believes he shot himself in the foot by crusading for gun control, with his CNN show as the final casualty. But the self-inflicted damage was far deeper than that. The British journalist undoubtedly alienated many in the audience (and perhaps delighted others) with his crusade against guns. But when he would bring on gun advocates and rail against them as “stupid,” well, it was hard to watch.
(February 25, 2014 ... Hat Tip to The Hobo Brasser)

No new comments, only that this is a follow-up to my earlier post registering my disappointment that Piers was hanging up his guns.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

'Piers Morgan Live' ... dies!

'Piers Morgan Live' coming to an end, CNN says | Fox News: LOS ANGELES –
 CNN's prime-time talk show "Piers Morgan Live" is coming to an end, the news channel said Sunday. Morgan, who succeeded Larry King in the 9 p.m. EST time slot three years ago, was drawing lackluster ratings. In contrast, King had a 25-year run on CNN. The airdate for Morgan's last show has yet to be determined, CNN said in a statement.

We won't have Piers Morgan to kick around any more.

Frankly, I'm disappointed. 

One of my favorite "timewasters" is watching Piers Morgan Moments on YouTube.  Nobody likes the old hack, but watching him get "PWNED" is great fun.  His irrepressible ability to continue stressing discussion points which have already been  refuted by his guests is his most charming quality.

Apparently, he had adopted the persona of a Talk Show Host.  Larry Elder, for example, whose motto is "I Will Never Back Down!"

It must be nice to have that degree of self-confidence.  The understanding that you are NEVER wrong, nobody what anyone else says.

Oh, wait a minute.  That's one of the best qualities of a Blogger, too, isn't it?

Fortunately, I never have to admit that I'm wrong.

And if I am, I just delete the article.