It will be windy here in South Dakota. Let’s hope that wind is put to good use.
For the New Year, I think a blessing is appropriate. I’ll try my best to cover the essentials, but I crave your pardon if I forget anything important.
May you find this new year full of challenges and worthwhile endeavors. May your parents receive proof that you are indeed mature enough to do whatever it is that you’ve been wishing for since forever. May your spouse be unable to find anything new about you to dislike, while running out of paper to write down all the things he/she does like about you. May your offspring realize that you are probably way smarter than they are. May your employer not find you indispensable but essential to the everyday functioning of the business. May your coworkers rely on you to be honest with them and with yourself. May your friends be willing to call you when things don’t go well, knowing that you will do what you are able to help. May your neighbors be glad you live in their neighborhood, and not somewhere else.
May your pets admit that you are firm but fair. May your automobile always start, no matter the outside temperature. May your gun go boom when you squeeze the trigger. May your house stay warm when it ought to, and cool when it should. May your computer never give you the blue screen of death. May your data be backed up weekly (if not daily). May your keyboard never fail to provide you with the letters necessary to build the right words, sentences, paragraphs and documents.
Finally, may you make all new mistakes this year.
Merry New Year!
Bob Schwartz is not happy that South Dakotans are getting concealed carry permits in record numbers:
Be sure and remember that stat [about 50,000 concealed permits in South Dakota] the next time someone cuts you off on 41st street and you feel like giving them the bird in retaliation as he might be one of the almost 10% of South Dakotan’s [sic] carrying a concealed heater to prop up their manhood.
I, on the other hand, am quite glad to hear the news. To me it means that citizens are unwilling to trust their personal safety to someone who is likely to be several minutes (or more) away.
God only knows what a difference a “concealed heater” might have made for Piper Striley.
Apparently the fact that Piper’s murder was 10 years ago somehow makes it not germane to the current discussion. And yes, Mr. Schwartz, concealed carry laws do seem to make citizens safer:
States with right-to-carry laws have lower overall violent crime rates, compared to states without right-to-carry laws. In states whose laws respect the citizen’s right-to-carry guns for self defense the total violent crime is 13% lower, homicide is 3% lower, robbery is 26% lower and aggravated assault is 7% lower. (Data: Crime in the United States 1996, FBI Uniform Crime Reports)
I apologize in advance for this data being 12 years old.
Regarding the “line in the Second Amendment,” you might need to check with the US Supreme Court on that one.
I am gravely concerned about the probable encroachment on the Second Amendment by this next federal administration. Via Instapundit comes this link to a video in which an ATF agent speaks of the recent increase in violent crime in Arizona. However, he classifies a whole group of guns as “weapons of choice” for these criminals (who are doubly criminal in that most are illegally here to begin with). Buffering on the video is horrible (to warn those of you who might actually want to see it) since the site is probably getting pounded right now.
Here’s a news story which is tied to the video interview:
A recent gun bust in Phoenix is a clear indication of how the drug cartels depend on their connections in the United States to obtain the weapons they need to continue their deadly battles. They are powerful, sophisticated weapons they cannot get in Mexico but are finding in the U.S.
One of the weapons is called a “mata policia” or cop killer. Rounds fired from that weapon will penetrate bullet-proof vests that law enforcement wears.
No incendiary language there. When’s the last time you heard of a “car bust”? Wish I knew which weapon was the “cop killer.” Last time I checked, just about any gun that wasn’t a .45acp, 9mm, 40 S&W or similar (that is most centerfire rifle rounds) had the capability of penetrating standard body armor at close ranges. (Update: From other data I can find, the “mata policia” is the FN 5.7 (such as the P90). That’s what SWAT in Sioux Falls, South Dakota uses.)
Let me be blunt. While I (and our federal constitution) have no difficulty with a law enforcement agency knowing what types of guns are most attractive to criminals, to stop lawful commerce of such weapons is wrong. I’m not saying that the ATF has actually done this as of yet, but this is exactly the sort of thinking which led to the 1994 gun ban (and Obama has been very friendly to all of those who were not friends of the Second Amendment).
To stop commerce of these weapons is analogous to the TSA determining which airliners are most likely to be used by terrorists and then proscribing their manufacture, or having the NTSB determine which vehicles are used most often for hit-and-run crimes and determining that such autos are the “vehicles of choice” for such criminals.
This type of thinking is not a slippery slope: it is a greased pole.
Jay Reding has been at this (writing on policy and politics) much longer than I have. I’m not sure exactly what that means, other than to say that he’s done some very good work laying out his predictions for next year (and I’ve not taken the time to do the same). Here is the section on economics (as a teaser):
- The recession will not go away in 2009.
- Obama’s $1 trillion stimulus bill will narrowly pass on a party-line vote. It will not stimulate the economy, but will cause further job losses as small businesses prepare for the worst.
- The Dow will sink below 8,000 and not stay above that level for most of the year.
- By the end of 2009, the U.S. will face double-digit unemployment, economic recession, and massive deflation as the credit markets remain frozen.
- Congress will pass a protectionist trade measure that will have massive ripple effects throughout the world economy. The European Union will push for the WTO to punish the U.S. for their actions. Rather than improve our relations worldwide, America will be disliked ever more intensely across the globe.
- The one bright spot will be that consumers begin shedding their debts and living more fiscally responsible lifestyles.
One can only hope that the last item comes true. Pain is often the only way to learn life’s hardest lessons. Make sure you go over and read the rest of Mr. Reding’s predictions. You are, of course, welcome to leave your own here in the comments.
In the UK (where there is no Bill of Rights like ours), government is rapidly approaching Orwell’s dystopian vision:
The private sector will be asked to manage and run a communications database that will keep track of everyone’s calls, emails, texts and internet use under a key option contained in a consultation paper to be published next month by Jacqui Smith, the home secretary.
A cabinet decision to put the management of the multibillion pound database of all UK communications traffic into private hands would be accompanied by tougher legal safeguards to guarantee against leaks and accidental data losses.
Senior Whitehall officials responsible for planning for a new database say there is a significant difference between having access to “communications data” – names and addresses of emails or telephone numbers, for example – and the actual contents of the communications. “We have been very clear that there are no plans for a database containing any content of emails, texts or conversations,” the spokeswoman said.
Please people, I’m not stupid: “no plans for a database” doesn’t mean there won’t be one. It is only a matter of time. In fact, at the risk of sounding alarmist, I’m guessing that such data is already accessible to the UK government. From a purely practical standpoint, why wouldn’t one save the contents of messages as well as the the metadata? Hard drive space is very cheap and one never knows how it might come in handy.
Maintaining the capacity to intercept suspicious communications was critical in an increasingly complex world, he said. “It is a process which can save lives and bring criminals to justice. But no other country is considering such a drastic step. This database would be an unimaginable hell-house of personal private information,” he said. “It would be a complete readout of every citizen’s life in the most intimate and demeaning detail. No government of any colour is to be trusted with such a roadmap to our souls.”
The language may be a bit florid, but the meaning is clear. You’ve heard about not putting all of your eggs into a single basket? Sometimes, one should not pick up the eggs at all. God save the UK.
The title is gratefully ripped off from the closer to Michelle Malkin’s latest on the UAW:
While carmakers soak up $17 billion in taxpayer bailout funds and demand more for their ailing industry, United Auto Workers bosses have wasted tens of millions of their workers’ dues on gold-plated resorts and rotten investments.
In May and November 2007, the UAW forked over nearly $53,000 for union staff meetings at the Thousand Hills Golf Resort in Branson, Missouri. In September 2007, the UAW dropped another $5,000 at the Lakes of Taylor Golf Club in Taylor, Michigan and another $9,000 at the Thunderbird Hills Golf Club in Huron, Ohio. Another bill for $5,772 showed up for the Branson, Missouri golf resort.
I do not play golf. I’ve been told that this is a serious lack on my part. My response is usually along the lines of “if you want me to hit something that small and that far away, I think I’ll use a rifle.” That aside, there is nothing wrong with people playing golf, or even for companies to pay for golf outings. There is, however, something substantially wrong with what should be a not-for-profit organization (the UAW) spending union dues on such adventures.
I realize that hypocrisy is an overworked term these days. Full disclosure: we are all hypocrites in that our actions fail to entirely and completely measure up to our words. But is there not something terribly hypocritical about the activities of the UAW? They were started to ensure that the “the worker” got a fair shake from the “the factory” and was not taken financial advantage of in the process. Seems very much as though they are taking financial advantage of their members. Dare we say that the union has become the factory and will do whatever it can to perpetuate itself, despite the damage it might cause to the very people it claims to help?
Perhaps it is time for a massive retirement party–for everyone in the UAW who draws a salary from the union. I’ll help out with place settings and mints. Anybody want to get the balloons . . . ?
No, not talking about the black and white framework on which the early versions of Microsoft Windows were running. Instead, I’m talking about a “denial of service” attack. I’ve not been subject to one (largely because I haven’t drawn that level of ire, yet) but PowerLine was subjected to such yesterday after posting videos from the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) which YouTube was refusing to host.
Thankfully, PowerLine has addressed the issue and will continue to provide such content. However, the affair serves as a stark reminder that there are many who would stifle opposing views even if it requires unlawful activities to do so. If these attacks originated with those who are philosphically opposed to Israel’s existance (as is probable) it further erodes the veracity of people who claim that Islam is a religion of peace.
For no particular reason (other than the fact that we are less than two weeks, officially, into winter), I bring you the following video reminder that the laws of physics have not been repealed (HT: Get In Emily’s Head):
Like most humorists, Dave Barry can be an acquired taste. Suffice it to say that I’ve acquired it. I find his commentary to be both humorous and remarkably evenhanded. More than I can say for another humorist named Dave. Anyway, Dave has compiled his retrospective on 2008, which can be found here. Following are a few excerpts which I particularly appreciate:
There were a few days there in October when you could not completely rule out the possibility that the next Treasury secretary would be Joe the Plumber.
Abroad, Fidel Castro steps down after 49 years as president of Cuba, explaining that he wants to spend more time decomposing. In selecting his successor, the Cuban national assembly, after conducting an exhaustive nationwide search, selects Fidel’s brother, Raul, who narrowly edges out Dennis Kucinich.
the International Atomic Energy Agency releases a report stating that Iran is actively developing nuclear warheads. In response, Iran issues a statement asserting that (1) it absolutely is not developing nuclear warheads, and (2) these are peaceful warheads. The United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia and China convene an emergency meeting, during which they manage, in heated negotiations, to talk France out of surrendering.
Congress passes, and Technically Still President Bush signs, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, and everyone heaves a sigh of relief as the economy stabilizes for approximately 2.7 seconds, after which it resumes going down the toilet. As world financial markets collapse like fraternity pledges at a keg party and banks fail around the world, the International Monetary Fund implements an emergency program under which anybody who opens a checking account anywhere on earth gets a free developing nation. But it is not enough; the financial system is in utter chaos. At one point, a teenage girl in Worcester, Mass., attempts to withdraw $25 from an ATM and winds up acquiring Wells Fargo.
But the economy remains the dominant issue, with retailers reporting weak holiday sales as many shoppers pass up pricier gifts such as jewelry and big-screen TVs in favor of toilet paper and jerky. As the year draws to a close, the president’s Council of Economic Advisers warns that the current recession “could spiral downward into a full-blown depression,” leaving the United States with “no viable economic option but to declare war on Japan.”
There are many many more things worth reading in Mr. Barry’s article. Go there and find your own favorites (or remind yourself why Dave is an acquired taste–it’s entirely up to you).