Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Mayors Against Guns Report

I saw this first linked at Alphecca. I found the report here. I've begun reading it and it is quite transparent on its intent. It's trying to look like a scientific study, but it ignores some really big issues.

First, I don't find any discussion that points out that all the activities they discuss are already illegal at the federal level, and in most cases are illegal at the state level as well. They also don't discuss the issue of ATF enforcement which should be the real issue if the database is being utilized properly. They do discuss the number of investigations the ATF has made, but fail to discuss the numbers for prosecutions or convictions. You'd think if you really wanted to stop gun trafficking, that is where you'd really start complaining.

Next is the usual distortion of what a dealer is. They begin with the usual gun-show loophole discussion about unlicensed gun dealers. Oddly, a dealer is required to be licensed by federal and most state laws, so there is no such thing as an unlicensed dealer. They dance around this in other sections as well.

I couldn't find, but will look some more, to find analysis of the states with the weakest gun laws and how they compare their "export" of crime guns to the largest "exporters." That would have been telling if their contention is accurate that local gun laws would lesson gun trafficking.

I did find the table comparing gun imports to exports. Interesting that New Hampshire is on the top of the list, though it isn't one of the top 10 trafficking states, but it is right next door to Massachusetts which has a fairly high importation rate. By this report's implication, NH is the one at fault here. Couldn't possibly be that the MA crimials have cars and drive to another state to commit a crime. Wouldn't that be an interesting bit of a study as to who is committing the crime.

Well, there are a lot of other complaints, but I'll wait until I have time to finish the report.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Spoofing License Plates

Saw this at NRO. This is a "prank?"
As a prank, students from local high schools have been taking advantage of the county's Speed Camera Program in order to exact revenge on people who they believe have wronged them in the past, including other students and even teachers.

Students from Richard Montgomery High School dubbed the prank the Speed Camera "Pimping" game, according to a parent of a student enrolled at one of the high schools.

Originating from Wootton High School, the parent said, students duplicate the license plates by printing plate numbers on glossy photo paper, using fonts from certain websites that "mimic" those on Maryland license plates. They tape the duplicate plate over the existing plate on the back of their car and purposefully speed through a speed camera, the parent said. The victim then receives a citation in the mail days later.

Students are even obtaining vehicles from their friends that are similar or identical to the make and model of the car owned by the targeted victim, according to the parent.

"This game is very disturbing," the parent said. "Especially since unsuspecting parents will also be victimized through receipt of unwarranted photo speed tickets.

Makes you wonder how the police will react to this. Probably by putting out more tickets. Because, you know, they haven't heard of this happening:
The Montgomery County Police said they have not seen or heard of this prank occurring but said they will keep an eye out for people committing the crime.
I wonder how exactly that is illegal. I'm guessing fraud is in there somewhere. But of course, again they call it a prank. I'm sure its all innocent fun and such, unless you're the one that gets the ticket.

And no doubt, now that it's in the MSM, it will just go away and no copy cats will be seen.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

The divided high court appeared to signal that rescue efforts are the responsibility of trained professionals. It was also thought to be the first ruling by the court that someone who intervened in an accident in good faith could be sued.

Lisa Torti of Northridge allegedly worsened the injuries suffered by Alexandra Van Horn by yanking her "like a rag doll" from the wrecked car on Topanga Canyon Boulevard.

Torti now faces possible liability for injuries suffered by Van Horn, a fellow department store cosmetician who was rendered a paraplegic in the accident that ended a night of Halloween revelry in 2004.
Ah yes, rescue efforts are the responsibility of the trained professional. Of course, the trained professional may not be present when you're burning to death in a car crash or the LEO isn't there when your house is being invaded, but we can only rely on professionals.
Torti testified in a deposition that she saw smoke and liquid coming from Watson's vehicle and feared the car was about to catch fire. None of the others reported seeing signs of an imminent explosion, and Van Horn said in her deposition that Torti grabbed her arm and yanked her out "like a rag doll."
This still requires that the Samaritan use some intelligence as to what is really needed. How to make that decision though is difficult. And if you do wait to long and the car does catch fire, are you then going to take the risk of going into a fire to save them? Makes me wonder if the lawyers even considered that. I'm going to go my usual way and doubt it. Of course with all the good hollywood training people get on how cars explode all the time when they crash I suppose this woman thought she was doing the right thing.

I suppose now if you deem to assist, you best stop and think long and hard about whether you should. And then once the person is safe, it probably is a good idea just to sneak away and hope no one got your license plate number or a picture of you.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Helprin's Take on American Weakness

Sorry, I read the article and one specific statement loses him all credibility. And this is it:
This confusion has come at the price of transforming the military into a light and hollow semi-gendarmerie focused on irregular warfare and ill-equipped to deter the development and resurgence of the conventional and strategic forces of China and Russia, while begging challenges from rivals or enemies no longer constrained by our former reserves of strength.
How does he manage to type this with his head so far up his ass? Is he really advocating we go back to the cold war model of military strategy? Considering nearly all modern analysis by those actually looking at the wars/conflicts we may be involved in, the majority seem to conclude that fourth generation warfare is far more likely than third.

He also make a major mistake in assuming that because a military learns how to deal with irregular warfare means they are incapable of dealing with major battles. This guy couldn't be more wrong. Armor and Air superiority are still arenas that the US will never be bested in unless Russia somehow figures out how to jump ahead, and that appears unlikely with the present economy. As for China, they seem to need to steal or buy the technology, since they consistently prove their inability to innovate.

He seems to have missed the recent news, from oh say the past year, on how Iraq has been doing as well.

His conclusion strikes me as he's likely building a fallout shelter in his back yard.
But the costs of not reacting to China's military expansion, which could lead to its hegemony in the Pacific; or of ignoring a Russian resurgence, which could result in a new Cold War and Russian domination of Europe; or of suffering a nuclear detonation in New York, Washington, or any other major American city, would be so great as to be, apparently, unimaginable to us now. Which is why, perhaps, we have not even begun to think about marshaling the resources, concentration, deliberation, risk, sacrifice, and compromise necessary to avert them. This is the great decision to which the West is completely blind, and for neglect of which it will in the future grieve exceedingly.
I'd advise the dried beans, rice and a really good water filtration system. Oh, and make sure you're at least 6' below the surface. That way you're ensured continued detachment from reality.

100 Things Meme

Guess I've read a few of these around so I'll play late.

100 things I've done.

1. Started your own blog. (Uh yeah)
2. Slept under the stars. (yes, froze my butt off)
3. Played in a band. (Several)
4. Visited Hawaii. (nope)
5. Watched a meteor shower. (Many)
6. Given more than you can afford to charity. (nope)
7. Been to Disneyland. (Nope)
8. Climbed a mountain. (Nothing major but a couple)
9. Held a praying mantis. (yes)
10. Sang a solo.(nope)
11. Bungee jumped. (nope Not a chance)
12. Visited Paris. (nope)
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea. (nope)
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch. (yes, wood carving)
15. Adopted a child.(nope)
16. Had food poisoning. (Don't think so)
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty. (nope, closed both times I was there)
18. Grown your own vegetables. (yes)
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France. (nope, See visit Paris)
20. Slept on an overnight train. (yes, worse than sleeping under the stars)
21. Had a pillow fight. (yes)
22. Hitch hiked. (nope)
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill. (It's called a mental health day)
24. Built a snow fort.(yes)
25. Held a lamb. (nope)
26. Gone skinny dipping. (yes)
27. Run a Marathon. (nope)
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice.(nope)
29. Seen a total eclipse. (Several of the sun and several of the moon)
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset. (your kidding right? Hasn't everyone?)
31. Hit a home run.(nope)
32. Been on a cruise.(nope)
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person. (yes)
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors. (If NH counts, since I'm a tenth generation Yankee I guess it does.)
35. Seen an Amish community. (nope)
36. Taught yourself a new language. (nope)
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied. (You've got to be kidding)
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person.(nope)
39. Gone rock climbing. (yes)
40. Seen Michelangelo's David.(nope)
41. Sung karaoke. (Hell NO)
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt. (nope)
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant. (nope)
44. Visited Africa.(nope)
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight. (yes)
46. Been transported in an ambulance. (nope)
47. Had your portrait painted.(nope)
48. Gone deep sea fishing.(yes)
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person.(nope)
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.(nope, What's with these paris questions? Shouldn't they be disqualified once you admit not having gone to paris?)
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling.(yes)
52. Kissed in the rain. (yes)
53. Played in the mud. (yes)
54. Gone to a drive-in theater. (yes)
55. Been in a movie. (nope)
56. Visited the Great Wall of China.(nope)
57. Started a business.(nope)
58. Taken a martial arts class.(nope)
59. Visited Russia.(nope)
60. Served at a soup kitchen.(nope)
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies.(nope)
62. Gone whale watching. (yes)
63. Got flowers for no reason.(nope)
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma.(yes)
65. Gone sky diving. (nope, why jump out of a perfectly good plane?)
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp.(nope)
67. Bounced a check.(nope)
68. Flown in a helicopter.(nope)
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy. (nope)
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial.(yes)
71. Eaten Caviar.(yes)
72. Pieced a quilt.(nope)
73. Stood in Times Square. (yes)
74. Toured the Everglades.(nope)
75. Been fired from a job. (nope)
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London.(nope)
77. Broken a bone. (One Ankle, several ribs)
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle.(nope)
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person.(nope)
80. Published a book. (nope)
81. Visited the Vatican.(nope)
82. Bought a brand new car. (yes)
83. Walked in Jerusalem.(nope)
84. Had your picture in the newspaper.(nope)
85. Read the entire Bible. (yes)
86. Visited the White House.(nope)
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating. (a couple of times)
88. Had chickenpox. (yes)
89. Saved someone’s life. (nope)
90. Sat on a jury. (nope)
91. Met someone famous. (nope)
92. Joined a book club.(nope, why bother they only read crap)
93. Lost a loved one. (yes)
94. Had a baby.(nope)
95. Seen the Alamo in person.(nope)
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake. (nope)
97. Been involved in a law suit.(nope)
98. Owned a cell phone.(nope)
99. Been stung by a bee. (too many times)
100. Read an entire book in one day. (More than once.)

The "Elevate" Herd

Reading over at QandO I came across this article on the emotion of "Elevation" and how it appears to have been a major motivator for the Obama voters. Like many good progressives, they went into the vote based on feelings rather than facts. I'll pull some of the quotes from the Salon article and you can read Billy Hollis' piece at QandO which will for the most part be the same since he discusses them with clarity.

What is elevation?
In his forthcoming book, Born To Be Good (which is not a biography of Obama), Keltner writes that he believes when we experience transcendence, it stimulates our vagus nerve, causing "a feeling of spreading, liquid warmth in the chest and a lump in the throat." For the 66 million Americans who voted for Obama, that experience was shared on Election Day, producing a collective case of an emotion that has only recently gotten research attention. It's called "elevation."
We come to elevation, Haidt writes, through observing others—their strength of character, virtue, or "moral beauty." Elevation evokes in us "a desire to become a better person, or to lead a better life." The 58 million McCain voters might say that the virtue and moral beauty displayed by Obama at his rallies was an airy promise of future virtue and moral beauty. And that the soaring feeling his voters had of having made the world a better place consisted of the act of placing their index fingers on a touch screen next to the words Barack Obama. They might be on to something. Haidt's research shows that elevation is good at provoking a desire to make a difference but not so good at motivating real action. But he says the elevation effect is powerful nonetheless. "It does appear to change people cognitively; it opens hearts and minds to new possibilities. This will be crucial for Obama."

Keltner believes certain people are "vagal superstars"—in the lab he has measured people who have high vagus nerve activity. "They respond to stress with calmness and resilience, they build networks, break up conflicts, they're more cooperative, they handle bereavement better." He says being around these people makes other people feel good. "I would guarantee Barack Obama is off the charts. Just bring him to my lab."

When you start thinking about mass movements, all those upturned, glowing faces of true believers—be they the followers of Jim Jones or Adolf Hitler—you don't always get a warm feeling about mankind. Instead, knowing where some of these "social collectives" end up, the sensation is a cold chill. Haidt acknowledges that in "calling the group to greatness," elevation can be used for murderous ends. He says: "Anything that takes us out of ourselves and makes us feel we are listening to something larger is part of morality. It's about pressing the buttons that turn off 'I' and turn on 'we.' "
I suppose I'm extremely distrustful of such vague emotions that lead the herd, mob, or whatever collective you wish, to follow. I didn't see any proof or even justification for people defining Obama as morally beautiful, possessing and strength of character, or being virtuous in any way. But then, I didn't bother listening to his speaches. I read them and then looked at the extremely limited information provided by the MSM and found he was just another politician. (Say politicain as if you just stepped in something disgusting.)

As the last paragraph quoted points out this can lead to tragedy. That's primarily why I think it needs to be distrusted. I don't believe I've ever felt elevation, but that could be due to my reaction to herds when they begin such mob mentality reactivity.

I like this bit, mainly because the author has it inverted.
While there is very little lab work on the elevating emotions, there is quite a bit on its counterpart, disgust. University of Pennsylvania psychologist Paul Rozin has been a leading theorist in the uses of disgust. He says it started as a survival strategy: Early humans needed to figure out when food was spoiled by contact with bacteria or parasites. From there disgust expanded to the social realm—people became repelled by the idea of contact with the defiled or by behaviors that seemed to belong to lower people. "Disgust is probably the most powerful emotion that separates your group from other groups," says Keltner.

Haidt says disgust is the bottom floor of a vertical continuum of emotion; hit the up button, and you arrive at elevation. This could be why so many Obama supporters complained of being sickened and nauseated by the Republican campaign. Seeing a McCain ad or Palin video clip actually felt like being plunged from their Obama-lofted heights.

Interesting, but completely backward. Disgust is the strongest emotion for self preservation. It keeps you alive and thinking on your feet. Elevation can lead you to the edge of the cliff that you euphorically step off of. If that is the height of emotion it is the absolute bottom for survival.

Also interestingly, the Obamanites were disgusted by McCain Palin. I don't think I was ever digusted by Obama, just really distrustful. Makes you wonder how strong Repug voters felt.

Well, we'll see which emotion is justified in the end.