Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Blink Twice If You Like Me

Caption: In many fireflies, pairs stay coupled for hours while the male, lower, gives the female a protein package injected with sperm, called a nuptial gift.

Make up your own joke. I'll start: "Yeah, I've got your 'nuptial gift', right here!"

Shock Value

Poster seen during a demonstration outside the Iranian embassy in London last week.

Amazing. Very powerful.

The Most Heartbreaking Cars Sold In America

If ever there were a threat to the reputation of ’60s British sports cars as the most heartbreaking form of transportation sold in America, it probably would have come from Fiat.

Like classic Austin-Healeys, MGs and Triumphs of the bell-bottom era, Fiats could be lovely to look at and delightful on the road. In particular, they were loads of fun when driven with urgency — ideally with the engine screaming at maximum revs and with minimal regard to the tires’ limits of adhesion.

But they also carried the stigma of being unable to return home from dinner and a movie without an alternator dying, a fuel pump expiring or a head gasket blowing.



"Hearsay" is a radio talk show on National Public Radio, based in the Norfolk-Hampton area of Virginia. On Monday, June 22 the subject of the show was guns in Virginia.

"The ads say that Virginia is for lovers, but increasingly, Virginia is for gun lovers!"

Yeah, that sort of thing.

They interview an agent for BATFE, Mike Campbell, who offers an interesting reason for the number of guns from Virginia recovered in New York, and it has nothing to do with straw purchases or trafficking. It's due to the large number of military personnel in Virginia. Many of these people buy guns in Virginia (often at gun shops located nearest to military bases) and a year later they may be transferred to Illinois or New York, the gun stolen and used in a crime, and traced back to Virginia. And opportunistic pols claim that these guns are being deliberately trafficked, when they have actually been stolen. That portion of the show is about 9 minutes in.


Thanks to VCDL for providing the link.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Crime Reporting

The internet is a wonderful thing for checking two or three sources to get a better idea of a confusing or shallow piece of reporting.

That's what Second City Cop did recently.

On June 26th, WBBM 780 reported on a fatal car crash at 3:30AM that took the life of a boy who was one of five passengers in a Jeep which collided with a van. Two other boys in the Jeep, ages 13 and 14, were hospitalized. The other two passengers were hospitalized in critical condition.

Another news source reported the ages of the critically injured "passengers" as 15 and 15.

Then the hospital announced the age of the dead passenger: 13.

Second City Cop made a phone call and discovered that the Jeep was stolen.

IMO the real story is that five teenagers were joy-riding in a stolen car at 3:30 AM. But what's the follow-up story?

Family: 'Wonderful Boy' Made Bad Choice

A troubled Garfield Park teenager killed when the stolen Jeep he was riding in crashed and caught fire just yards from his home was a good kid who made a bad choice, family friends said Sunday.

He'd planned to spend the summer playing in a youth baseball league. Now his family is planning his funeral.
SCC comments, and I agree:

The ability to justify any behavior perpetrated by criminals regardless of age, is astounding of late. The death of personal responsibility continues.
Oh, and the van? It was fleeing an armed robbery. The two men in the van were badly burned. One is in custody.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Friday Fly-fishing

I biked over to a little spot I know, just to practice my fly casting. I haven't had the opportunity in years. This is in my home town and just a quarter-mile from the Beltway, although you'd never know it. It's surrounded by trees and not a car in sight. I had a couple of bites from the tiny fish who live here, but I wasn't really interested in catching anything, so back they went. I had an enjoyable two hours of casting and trying different flies. I love to see the loops of line curling through the air, and there was plenty of space for long casts.

As I was packing up, I saw this little brown snake giving me the eye.

Guns In Church II

The NYT blog has a story on the armed gathering at a church in Louisville; it isn't really a "service".


“This country started by people gathering together in churches and complaining about taxation and about their current government, King George the third, taking armaments that they had,” said Chesley Kemp, 61, a family doctor with his Kimber .45 auto at his side.

Dr. Kemp drove two hours from Bowling Green to attend a gun celebration here inside the New Bethel Church, believed to be the first such event in modern times.

I left a comment and I doubt they'll allow it so here it is:

That Kimber .45 that Chesley Kemp was carrying was made in Yonkers.

Another example of New York supplying guns to Kentucky.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

It's Moon Bounce Day!

The day when hams bounce signals off the moon!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Farrah Fawcett

Steve Martin used to tell a joke in his stand-up routine - in the white suit, remember?

"Boy, I am so mad at Farrah Fawcett-Majors! She has never even called me, once. Not even ONCE! And after the hours I spent holding up her poster with one hand!"

When Muslims Saved Jews

Tiny Albania is the only country in Europe to have a larger Jewish population after World War II than before it. This book is about the Albanian Muslims (and Orthodox Christians and Catholics, too) who sheltered Jews during the Holocaust. An inspiring story.

Review in WaPo.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Pastor Urges His Flock to Bring Guns to Church

It's reported in the New York Times, so naturally they're somewhat aghast.

[Edit: Cool! This is on the front page of tomorrow's newspaper.]

[Edit: needless to say, most of the commenters are apoplectic. A few are positive. My fave: "Blessed are the Peacemakers." I don't think anybody else "got" it.]

Now THAT'S Activism!

In Virginia, the state Department of Forestry quietly announced a comment period for a proposed regulation to allow concealed carry in Virginia State Forests under the same conditions as the rest of the state. The comment period is set to expire on July 8th.

A VCDL member spotted it and an email alert went out on Tuesday at 11:18 PM.

By Wednesday at 4:27 PM, there were 926 comments.

There are now 1,642 comments.

VCDL Blog.

Hauling Coals To Newcastle ...

Don't we already have enough goat smegma right here in the U.S.A.? Why do we have to import it from Albania?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Match Made In Cyberspace

Like a lot of you, I read Clayton Cramer's blog regularly. Have for years. Enjoy it immensely. I even met Clayton briefly last year in front of the Supreme Court building on the day of oral arguments for D.C. vs Heller.

Other regular readers may be struck, as I was, by the odd juxtaposition of ads placed by some well-meaning but clueless ad-bot:

Hot Cars

These two cars were basking in the sun outside the local detailing center yesterday.

This one is a Ford GT. I believe that this is the "40th Anniversary" version limited run of, what, 1000 cars?

And this is a 427 Cobra. Also apparently recent vintage.


The Lautenberg List

Pretty decent, balanced article in the CSM about Sen. Lautenberg's odious legislation to allow the AG (currently Eric Holder) to deny firearm purchases to persons on the Terrorist Watch List.


Civil libertarians, too, have concerns about the list. "There's no way to find out if you're on the list or not, and no way to assure that you can see the evidence that got you on the list or got you off," says Chris Calabrese, counsel for the ACLU's Technology and Liberty Project in New York.

"There's no reason why it couldn't become a political list," he says.


Christian Science Monitor article on Colombian smuggling ships with low radar profiles, called "narcosubs."

Monday, June 22, 2009

Driving Like Crazy

Here's a link to the speech by P.J. O'Rourke at Cato Institute on June 9, 2009. The audience overflowed the auditorium and seats were provided in the lobby to watch the video feed.

Driving Like Crazy | Cato Institute: Book Forum

Here's a brief highlight:

Bicycle Trip

I finished a bike trip Friday to the end of the W&OD Trail. It's a paved bike trail in Northern Virginia that runs from Arlington to Purcellville, about 45 miles. Since it was a round trip I covered 90 miles, and I took 5 days to do it. Each day after 9 or ten miles I would look for a place to park a car and mark it with GPS. Then I would bike back the 9-10 miles to my car. The next day I would drive to the marked location, unload my bike and pick up there. I had to take a lot of water, and an MRE for lunch.

Saw some buzzards.

And lots of dilapidated old buildings, like this barn.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

D.C. Expands List Of Allowed Guns To Avert Lawsuit

Some good news for a change. This was in the blogosphere last night and it's in the WaPo this morning.

D.C. has expanded its list of "approved" handguns in order to avoid a lawsuit. Previously, only handguns on the California list of "approved handguns" could be registered. City Council passed emergency legislation to expand this list to include handguns approved for sale in Maryland or Massachusetts, as well as California.

So, some good news in the MSM this AM.

I'm still fuming about that Bob Herbert piece. Damn!

On Terrorist Watch List, but Allowed to Buy Guns


A double-hit from the NYT today. First there was Bob Herbert's loathesome op-ed tying gun owners to hate groups. Now they're giving prominent coverage to Sen. Frank Lautenberg's introduction of a bill to give the U.S. Attorney General (currently the virulently anti-gun Eric Holder) the discretion to deny gun purchases to persons on the terrorist watch list.

The TWL is secret, of course, and there have been some very odd people whose names have turned up on the list, from Ted Kennedy to Cat Stevens. And people whose names are on the list, or even just closely resemble a name on the list, have a damnably hard time figuring out what on earth is going on; they have to sue in federal court just to find out if they're on the list at all. It's a Kafkaesque situation that we ought not to have in the U.S. It ought to be easier for citizens to challenge the TWL.

Lautenberg's bill will probably not make it out of committee, thank goodness, but this crafty old gun-hater has gotten around that obstacle before, by offering a last-minute amendment on the Senate floor to a larger bill that the leadership wants passed without delay. And it could happen again.

Sorry, no link - posting from Blackberry.

A Threat We Can't Ignore

Have you read the outrageous, disgusting and hysterical column by Bob Herbert in today's NYT? It's just chock-a-block with name-calling, fear-mongering and guilt by association. Clearly, if Mr. Herbert had his way, the NRA would be designated a "hate group" and being a member would be a "hate crime".

An absolutely disgusting diatribe.

I can't link to it from my Blackberry, but you can find it if you really need to feel some outrage this morning.

[Edit: here's the link.]

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Goodbye, Gutenberg!

Absolutely amazing little gadget. It's a pen with an audio recorder inside it. Big deal. But it also has an infrared camera near the point, which records everything you write or draw. And it indexes your notes to the audio, so you can point your pen at a diagram you drew and the pen will play back the audio it recorded as you were drawing the diagram. You can upload your notes via USB cradle, page by page - the pen recognizes when you turn a page. You can word-search your notes and listen to the contemporaneous audio recording.

It uses special note paper, but it's not that special: you can print out all you want on your own printer.

The 1-gig version is $150 and the 2-gig version is $200.

Tear Down This Cyberwall!

I don't believe I'm linking to this idiot.

New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof has a fascinating article on how dissidents are communicating with the outside world. Kristof highlights the programming work of Shiyu Zhou, a computer scientist and leader in the Chinese effort:

Mr. Zhou, the son of a Chinese army general, said that he and his colleagues began to develop such software after the 1999 Chinese government crackdown on Falun Gong (which the authorities denounce as a cult). One result was a free software called Freegate, small enough to carry on a flash drive. It takes a surfer to an overseas server that changes I.P. addresses every second or so, too quickly for a government to block it, and then from there to a banned site.

Freegate amounts to a dissident’s cyberkit. E-mails sent with it can be encrypted. And after a session is complete, a press of a button eliminates any sign that it was used on that computer.

Freegate. Make a note of it. Could come in handy to support our "low-level terrorism", i.e. peaceful demonstrations.

The Gun That Killed Dillinger ...

... is going on the auction block July 28th in Chicago. There's just one small hitch:

An image of the gun, owned by O'Neil's family, will be projected on a screen at auction because Chicago bans handguns and automatic weapons within city limits. Anyone who wants to view the gun must go to Shore Galleries at 2218 W. Devon in Lincolnwood, where it is stored. Potential bidders must comply with state and federal gun laws.

A Colt Army Special revolver used by East Chicago, Ind., police Capt. Timothy A. O'Neil (inset) to fatally shoot John Dillinger is going up for auction next month.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What Fresh Hell Is This?

I dunno if Mrs. Parker was a shooter, but if she shot a 10mm pistol and it came back from the range looking like this ...

... she might have been a trifle peeved. After 75 rds of 180-gr, 1200-fps torture, the rear sight has given up the ghost. Specifically the big adjustment screw fractured right down the center.

You can see it a little better here. The screw is an interesting piece of work: the underside of the head has eight tiny, shallow depressions drilled into it to act as "click-stops".

So it's off to the gunsmith for the poor Witness.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Monday, June 15, 2009

Marijuana In Interstate Commerce

Justice Clarence Thomas on interstate commerce:

Respondents Diane Monson and Angel Raich use marijuana that has never been bought or sold, that has never crossed state lines, and that has had no demonstrable effect on the national market for marijuana. If Congress can regulate this under the Commerce Clause, then it can regulate virtually anything – and the Federal Government is no longer one of limited and enumerated powers.

That guy can make a strong point in two sentences!

From The Volokh Conspiracy.

And check out One Toke Over The Line from the Lawrence Welk Show. Surely the First Amendment was not written to protect such things!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Legalizing Marijuana

There's a vigorous comment string on The Volokh Conspiracy on legalizing pot in the U.S.A.

Here's mine:

I can think of several likely consequences for legalizing MJ in the USA:

1) The price of MJ in the USA would drop drastically.
2) There would be thousands of Americans freed from jail.
3) Spending on law-enforcement, courts and prisons could be re-directed to treatment and rehabilitation.
4) Thousands of young men would no longer be able to make a living as street dealers.
5) Mexican drug cartels would find that there is no profit to smuggling MJ into the USA.
6) Americans would try to smuggle MJ from the US (where it is cheap and legal) into Mexico and Canada (where it is illegal and expensive).
7) Monsanto would create a genetically-modified MJ ("Roundup-tolerant") and patent it.
8) Some users of other drugs (cocaine, meth, etc.) would switch to MJ because it gave them a similar experience but was cheap and legal.
9) Pigs would fly.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Counterfeiting On A Stupendous Scale

Two men, most likely North Koreans, have been arrested by Italian border police near the Swiss border. In the false bottom of a suitcase they were concealing $134 billion in U.S. T-Bills. That's billion; with a "b". One hundred and thirty-four times ten to the ninth power.

Just a guess on my part but with all of the changes to U.S. currency in the last ten years, especially the $100 bill so beloved by generations of counterfeiters, I would surmise that large-scale counterfeiters are having a tough time of it, and are turning to documents that don't change appearance so often. But counterfeiting a $500-million bill? Puh-lease!

The Smallest Minority has got everything.

She Commands The Subjunctive!

Sensational murder trial in Italy. As usual when a woman is a defendant, the press has to describe what she's wearing:

On Friday, Ms. Knox appeared in Perugia’s Renaissance-era court house to tell her side of the story for the first time. Dressed in a white shirt and tan slacks, her long brown hair pulled back in a ponytail, Ms. Knox said that ....

OK, now that we have that out of the way, this is the part I like best:

Driving much of the media attention are the conflicting portrayals of Ms. Knox, who is alternately described as a pot-smoking, sex-crazed girl gone wild, and a hard-working college student who saved her money to study in Perugia only to find herself in jail for more than a year and a half for a crime she says she never committed.

On Friday, Ms. Knox appeared confident, ebullient and in good humor throughout the day-long hearing. She spoke in both English and fluent Italian, with a command of the subjunctive that allowed her to navigate the many hypothetical clauses in her testimony.

See, that's what O.J. Simpson needed: a command of the subjunctive.

Hello, Pot? This Is Kettle...

Libyan Strongman Gadhafi visited Italy and lectured an Italian audience on women's rights:

Gadhafi, a self-styled feminist on his first trip to Italy, arrived at the auditorium dressed in traditional robes and surrounded by his female bodyguards. After his speech, he reached out to the veil of a woman in his entourage and used it to wipe the sweat off his brow.

Awfully decent of him!

AP via NYT.

Second Amendment Comments

On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times endorsed incorporation of the Second Amendment via the 14th Amendment. This inspired a lively discussion thread over at The Volokh Conspiracy, including this gem:

Brett Bellmore: The thing is, it's a constitution that's over 200 years old, written for an agrarian society, by people who held some beliefs which are fairly uncommon today. Any honest reading of it is going to occasionally sound crazy to modern ears, because it IS crazy by modern standards on some points.

djung: And that's a decent test. If it sounds crazy by today's standards, then it's time to change the standards back.

Slam dunk!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Free Air!

Now that's a bicycle trail!

This is on the W&OD trail in Vienna, VA.

But what is this damned thing?

Looks like a Celtic Rune or an Arabesque, cast in aluminum.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Milton Friedman Memorial Free Lunch

I hied out to the Cato Institute in downtown D.C. at noon. They had the aforementioned Free Lunch, with a guest speaker who was kind enough to sign a few of his books.

All I had was one of his oldest ones, THE oldest in fact.

But he was so gracious to sign it, even signing it over his own photograph from 1974.

It says,

"To [Turk],
2 sweet
2 be
4 got

P.J. O'Rourke

As for the Free Lunch, I recommend the chicken and Romaine wrap. The sandwich made with focaccia (spell-check recommends "Fibonacci"!) bread was also good.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Having It Both Ways

According to Brady Campaign spokesman, more people are legally carrying concealed guns even though violent crime is decreasing:

Doug Pennington, spokesman for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said statistics actually show reported violent crime decreasing. According to the FBI, violent crimes reported to police decreased 2.5 percent between 2007 and 2008.

On the other hand, Brady statistics show that violent crime increases when people legally carry concealed guns.

Got that?

Caption: Utica Pledger prepares to load her weapon during the firing range portion of the concealed weapons permit class at Bob's Gun Shop in Norfolk last week.

Comment: isn't that the new Ruger Plastivolver?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Eye And Ear Protection

Shooting is fun, but don't forget your eyes and ears!

Edit: this poster does share some thematic similarities with the works of Art Frahm. See "A Study Of The Effects Of Celery On Loose Elastic".

Friday, June 5, 2009

NYPD Seeks Way To Let Guns 'Talk' To One Another

RFID? Infrared? Magic? What could possibly go wrong?

*ssociated *ress.

It's National Donut Day!

I lift my coffee mug to the King of Donuts: the plain, cake donut.

Here's where you can get free donuts today: link.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Heller Is Brown For Plessy

Wonderful comment on The Volokh Conspiracy in a very lively discussion of Sonia Sotomayor.

Sotomayer's reading of Miller was consistent with the rest of the courts at the time it was written (2004). Whether or not individual rights proponents like it or not, and setting aside the semantic games people play with the unresolved nature of Miller, the Supreme Court had indicated that the 2nd Amendment did not create an individual right (if an individual right existed, the issue of military use would not have come up - the referral for a determination demonstrates that the court viewed it as a militia protection).

But Heller overturned that precedent - it's Brown for Plessy. There is now an individual right to bear arms, whether the militia-interpretation proponents like it or not. Granted, it's a right that is vague and will need to be fleshed out by subsequent decisions, but Heller is pretty clear - you have a right to self-protection.

Given that Heller came four years after Sanchez-Villar, perhaps Sotomayer would now rule differently. Or perhaps she will push to overturn Heller and return to the Miller precedent. But I don't think Sanchez-Villar is a good indicator because she clearly relied on the Miller guidance from the highest court.

Or: Heller is to Miller what Brown is to Plessy.

Signs II

This used to be a Chrysler dealership. Now it's an animal shelter.

Signs I

But what about those of us who want to forget?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Rainy Walk

I took a long walk (7-8 miles) around the 'hood Friday. Everything was blooming. Got caught in a downpour. There were puddles everywhere.