Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I Wish I Had Said That!

From a wide-ranging discussion of the Second Amendment, McDonald, Sotomayor, Kagan, etc. on the Volokh Conspiracy:

Owen H: Can any of the originalists out there point to where the Constitution specifically enumerates a right of armed self defense? I mean, the 2nd doesn’t say individual self-defense, it talks about defending the nation.

Allan Walstad: This has been gone over so many times on earlier VC threads over the years. 2A says the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. The language “shall not be infringed” explicitly indicates a pre-existing right, not one in any way created by the Constitution. The security of a free state, mentioned in the preamble, surely includes the security of the people, not just the borders or the organs of government. Even such a twisted anti-gun propagandist as historian Saul Cornell doesn’t aver that 2A is about defending the nation, rather his joke of an interpretation is that it was a bone thrown out to the states, that their militia units could not be disarmed by the feds. Shall we believe that 2A simply means you have a right to a gun while serving in the military?? Is there some sinister likelihood of the government sending troops into battle without arms? So are we to believe then that 2A means you can have a gun locked up somewhere for when called up by the government to defend the borders and the organs of government, but if brigands invade your community or home, attack you and your neighbors, rob your property and rape your kids you can’t use the gun for defense because the “security of a free state” has nothing directly to do with the security of the people in it?


The Girl Who Played With Fire

The second book of the trilogy is as good as the first.

What an unforgettable character! I want a T-Shirt that says "WWLSD?" (What would Lisbeth Salander do?)

Monday, June 28, 2010

I'm Lovin' It!

I'm sure I'm not the first with this pun, but it's the best I could come up with.

Otis McDonald and Dick Heller.
Two winners.

P.S. As I recall, Mr. Heller is pointing because he was saying, "Can you email me a copy of this picture?" Which I did.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

There's a story in publishing that the author William Makepeace Thackeray picked up Dumas' The Count Of Monte Cristo one morning at 6 AM and couldn't put it down again until 11 PM that night. Maybe Thackeray was just a slow reader; we're talking about a 1300-page novel. But it does have quite a reputation as a compulsive page-turner.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is another. I just finished it in two sittings. It has elements of:

The Silence Of The Lambs - horrific, sadistic serial killer (or killers?)
Psycho - who's that in the basement?
Laura - is the victim really dead?
Klute - two badly mismatched investigators are played for fools by Mr. Big
The Big Sleep - fabulously wealthy old-money family has secrets to keep
Pulp Fiction - say hello to Zeke

Quite a read and highest recommendation. Fantastic.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Must Carry

A court case in Massachusetts deals with the question of what constitutes safe storage of a handgun. The cops charge a guy because his Glock was found in an Igloo cooler. Now, within that cooler, the Glock was locked up in its original box with a cable lock, nice and safe. But in gun-phobic Mass., that's not enough: they wanted the locked box to be locked within another locked container, not an Igloo cooler.

Fortunately the Appeals court seems to have decided that the locked box did satisfy the Mass. statute for safe storage of a handgun.

Two commenters on the Volokh Conspiracy ask, in a state that is as hysterically frightened of guns as Massachusetts, what constitutes safe storage?

Avatar: The question is, what responsibility is incurred by a gun owner to make sure unauthorized people don’t gain access to their gun?

G.R.Mead: This is perhaps the best argument to make carry — MANDATORY ?!?!?

I cannot think of more secure way to keep the weapon from unauthorized persons ...

Yes! If you buy a handgun, you MUST carry it at all times. It's the only way to be sure.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

When Hippies Collide

Electric cars are so quiet that blind pedestrians could unwittingly step into the path of these ultra-quiet cars, such as the Nissan Leaf. So advocates for the blind have demanded that electric cars be equipped with noise-makers to warn of their approach. Problem solved? Not quite:

Anti-Noise Activists Oppose Sounds for Electric Cars

Thursday, June 17, 2010

New Harris Poll: Large Majorities Support Second Amendment

Large majorities of Americans feel that they should be allowed to have guns. At the same time, pluralities of Americans favor stricter control of guns, particularly hand guns, although this number has decreased significantly in the past few years.

These are some of the findings of a Harris Poll® survey of 2,503 U.S. adults surveyed online between May 10 and 17, 2010 by Harris Interactive.

h/t Say Uncle.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Love Quadrangle

Robert Wone

Ripped from the sordid pages of the Washington Post:

From the beginning, this has been the most unusual of cases because no one is charged with killing Wone. But prosecutors tried to prove in D.C. Superior Court that Joseph R. Price, 39, Dylan M. Ward, 40, and Victor J. Zaborsky, 44, who allowed Wone to stay with them on the night of his death, know who killed their friend and conspired to stage the crime scene and cover for the killer.

It boils down to this: Did an intruder kill Wone, as the defendants say, or was it someone the housemates know? Prosecutors say the killer was someone the three men know, probably Price's younger brother.

The housemates, who say they are in a committed three-way romantic relationship, waited 17 minutes before calling police so they could plant the murder weapon, alter the crime scene and scrub Wone's body of blood, prosecutors say.

Words fail me.

Do It To Larry!

Or Aaron, or Philip, or Alan.

Tough call. What would Heston do?

And what next? It's a slippery slope. License journalists?

Not many have the stones to stop sliding.

Toilet Paper

There's a meme rattling around, "What reading matter is in your bathroom?"

Here's an actual photograph:

Now Playing: One-Hit Wonders

Bow Wow Wow, Flock Of Seagulls, Barry McGuire, Chantays, Chumba Wumba, OXO, Haddaway, Frankie Goes To Hollywood (saw them in concert!), AHA (ditto - no shit!), Mike And The Mechanics, Human League, Kajagoogoo, Billy J. Kramer, The Vapors, Unit 4+2, The Buggles, Pet Shop Boys, The Troggs, The Hues Corporation, Bent Fabric, Barbara Lewis, Walter Egan, Devo, Soft Cell, etc.

Oh, the picture: remember Martha Quinn from MTV? Early Eighties. A friend of mine dated her in college (NYU). I forgave him, but it wasn't easy.

Thunder In The Mountains

During a bicycle ride this afternoon, a brief thunderstorm appeared. It's two miles to the nearest mailbox.

Fog-shrouded Skyline Drive.

This looks like the famous shot from
Gone With The Wind.

Thunderstorm well and truly coming in now.

Beyond Eleven

My new home is on four acres in Warren County, Virginia. There are a few neighbors, but their houses are hundreds of yards away, hidden by large stands of poplar trees.

Today I hooked up my sound system to my computer for the first time since the move. It's an Altec-Lansing gadget given to me by my brother. There's a big floor unit with the power supply and subwoofer, plus two little computer-like loudspeakers. The volume control is a free-spinning digital shaft encoder, and today, for the first time, I spun it fully clockwise.

I kept spinning it until it stopped getting louder, and then I ran.


The furniture is creeping across the room under the influence of the vibrations.

I gave the Rock 'n' Roll collection a couple of hours, now it's time for the 1812 Overture.

Wish me luck. I'm goin' in.

[Fifteen minutes later] Good lord, I'm soaking wet!

Track Rabbits

Send Us Your Subway Rat Snapshots!


“They jump two feet from a running start; they can fall 40 feet onto a concrete slab and keep running,” said Solomon Peeples, 86, a former director of the city’s Bureau of Pest Control Services. “We’re no match for them, as far as I’m concerned. Man does not stand no chance.”

from the New York Times.

One Man, One Vote?

From AP, via Yahoo:

Voters in Port Chester, 25 miles northeast of New York City, are electing village trustees for the first time since the federal government alleged in 2006 that the existing election system was unfair. The election ends Tuesday and results are expected late Tuesday.

Although the village of about 30,000 residents is nearly half Hispanic, no Latino had ever been elected to any of the six trustee seats, which until now were chosen in a conventional at-large election. Most voters were white, and white candidates always won.

The "remedy" imposed by the judge in this case was to give each voter six votes, instead of just one. Presumably, the small number of Hispanic voters would concentrate their votes on the few Hispanic candidates, boosting their chances at the polls. But, to me, this sounds like "proxy" voting: giving Hispanic voters the right to cast "proxy" votes on behalf of non-citizens.

Now, I should point out that ALL of the voters in this election were given six votes, not just Hispanic voters. But the court's underlying assumption seems to be that non-Hispanic voters would spread their votes out pretty much evenly over the candidates running for office, while the Hispanic voters would tend to concentrate their votes on Hispanic candidates. Unlike most "at-large" elections, where voters can, for example, vote for any six candidates from a slate of twenty, here voters may vote for the same candidate six times.

But how can one audit such a process when the total ballots cast exceeds the number of voters six-fold? And the winning candidates could receive more votes than the number of voters in the election?

Sounds like the voting process in some dictatorial hell-hole, like North Korea or Iran or Paraguay.

Maybe we should add Port Chester, New York to the Axis Of Evil. You got my vote! All six of 'em!

I wonder if it ever occurred to the judge in this case that the reason that no Hispanic had ever won is that so many of them are non-citizens and can't vote.

Perhaps we should consider ourselves fortunate that the judge didn't decide to make them all citizens under some sort of judicial fiat.

But we are all going to face this challenge, nationally, when the results of the 2010 Census are in. No doubt it will show that the number of Hispanic officeholders is far, far below their proportion of the population. And there is also no doubt that "multi-vote" and other wacky and un-democratic "remedies" are going to be proposed on a national scale.

h/t Rustmeister's Alehouse.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Top Ten Post-Apocalyptic Novels

The Road
The Stand
Y: The Last Man
A Canticle for Leibowitz
The Drowned World
The Passage
World War Z
The World Without Us
The Day of the Triffids
The Last Man

From Time Magazine.

The Road was about the darkest ride I've ever had in a book. Every ten pages or so I had to put it down and go to the front door, just to make sure that everything was OK. Whew!

But they missed Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank and Pulling Through by Dean Ing, plus Lucifer's Hammer, On The Beach and Level 7.

Quote Of The Day

There's a serious proposal being floated to repeal the 17th Amendment. That's the one that requires direct election of U.S. Senators; prior to 1913, senators were appointed by their respective state legislatures.

Columnist Gene Healy picks up the narrative:

Predictably, the liberal intelligentsia has responded with scorn. Of all the "goofy ideas from those lovable wacky Tea Partyers [sic]," John Aloysius Farrell writes at, this is the "stupidest." Repeal talk is "truly regressive," even "Paleolithic," Timothy Egan seethes in Sunday's New York Times.

Apparently, the only thing worse than peasants with pitchforks is peasants with pocket Constitutions.

h/t Volokh Conspiracy.

Monday, June 7, 2010

American Journalism's Crazy Old Aunt In The Attic

May 18, 2010: Helen Thomas accepts
the Sarah Brady Visionary Award from
the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

May 27, 2010: Helen Thomas mouths off
about Israel.

The blogpost title? I wish I'd said it, but it's from the WSJ.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Boomer Touchstones

James Taylor and Carol King are touring together. Maybe you remember them like this:

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Bletchley Park Goes Digital

Millions of formerly Ultra-Secret documents from the WWII code-breaking program at Bletchley Park are being scanned into a digital archive to be made available to the public on the internet.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Das Vedanya!

Real Photos That Look Photoshopped.

The New Age Of Blimps

A hybrid airship that could be used to intercept slower lighter-than-air-craft.

From Bad To Worse

It seems that those Google Street View trucks rolling all over the surface of our planet weren't just taking pictures. They were also running wireless packet sniffers, looking for unencrypted personal wireless networks and recording any fragments of data they could as they passed by.

Now the governments of Germany, Spain and France are demanding that Google turn over the data, over 600 gigabytes of it, to them.


Remember in Casablanca?

Captain Renault: "I'm shocked, shocked, to find gambling going on in here!"

Croupier: "Your winnings, sir."

Captain Renault: "Thank you. Everybody out immediately!"

P.S. I moved yesterday after a busy week of packing. Now I have a mostly empty house to clean and prep for sale and, 80 miles to the west, another house to unpack and make a new home. The movers thought they could move my safe with three guys and no handtruck! Au contraire! It's a good thing that the safe has a removable door, otherwise it would still be in the basement! So blogging will return to normal (the usual dull roar, anyway) in about a week. The new place has Direct-TV satellite internet, which is very fast but has high latency (delays), but it's free and is much faster than my tethered Blackberry connection that I have been using for nearly two years now.