Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The plot thickens

(Via Drudge)

In an earlier post, I asked the question "Why did the Bush Administration resort to secret (and likely illegal) spying by the NSA rather than using the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to obtain proper warrants?"

We may have an answer to that question. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports:

Government records show that the administration was encountering unprecedented second-guessing by the secret federal surveillance court when President Bush decided to bypass the panel and order surveillance of U.S.-based terror suspects without the court's approval.

A review of Justice Department reports to Congress shows that the 26-year-old Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court modified more wiretap requests from the Bush administration than from the four previous presidential administrations combined.

The court's repeated intervention in Bush administration wiretap requests may explain why the president decided to bypass the court nearly four years ago to launch secret National Security Agency spying on hundreds and possibly thousands of Americans and foreigners inside the United States, according to James Bamford, an acknowledged authority on the supersecret NSA, which intercepts telephone calls, e-mails, faxes and Internet communications.

Kind of make you wonder who they wanted to monitor and what (or how poor) their reasons were for FISC to keep second-guessing them, hm-m-m?

Monday, December 26, 2005

Duely noted

So the House and Senate compromised on a 5 week extention of the Patriot Act, sent it to the President, and bailed for their vacation. More interestingly, they managed to do it with only a few members present. How convenient for them.

I'm not sure what this means, but I find it...curious...that both the media attention and the political furor have both magically died out. If the President hasn't yet signed the bill (and I can't find where he has), I suggest watching for a December 31st passage of a permanent renewal, followed by a quick Presidential signature.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Well, isn't this a surprise

Senate Renews Patriot Act

Well, actually, they've renewed it in its entirety for 6 months. However, in 6 months it will at least be renewed again for some period of years if not made permanent.

Mourn the Republic.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Something wicked this way comes

FoxNews reports:

Senate Republicans Wednesday evening tentatively signed onto an agreement that will fully reauthorize the Patriot Act in its current form but also allows lawmakers to revisit controversial parts of the act that are subject to extensive opposition.

Told ya so.

They go on to say:

According to the deal reached late Wednesday, the 16 expiring provisions of the Patriot Act would be renewed for four years, but House and Senate leaders would allow changes in the law to be submitted for an up or down vote by May 31, 2006.

Peering into my crystal ball, I predict that no changes will be made by that date. No way, no how. I'll really go out on a limb and predict another extention, if not an outright vote to make the Patriot Act permanent at the end of the 4 year period.

Merry Christmas, America.

Who said this?

I got this in my inbox just now from the Yahoo Handloading group. The question is, who said it? The original poster doesn't know. At any rate, he's correct when he says it's too good to not share.

A 22LR is not a gun, they should be thought of as a condiment, in that they serve to increase the pleasure of life. Likewise they should never be counted in among the number of guns that you confess to having. They should be handed out as wedding and graduation presents to those poor souls who did not get one when they turned 10 or 12 (or even younger if you happen to find a very nice one for your 5 year old).

It sounds like Kim du Toit, but searches of both his sites don't find it.

We're all ears

I've been following the slowly expanding brew ha ha around the subject of the NSA's domestic spying, the President's defense of it, who was getting spied on when, the apologists' explanations for why we have to do it this way and so on and so forth.

The whole thing reeks of expediency and looks like a teenage boy caught in the bathroom with a copy of Playboy.

The Fourth Amendment says that:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Now, I'm just a simple computer geek who has a tendency to see things in black and white, but those words seem pretty straightforward to me. People have the right to be secure their private lives, and the federal government can't breach that without going through a delineated process to obtain permission.

OK, so these searches were warrantless. Everyone seems to acknowledge that. Some of the apologists point out that we're in a time of war, and during wars our civil rights are often curtailed.

True enough, and our history is full of examples. However, let me point out the fly in the ointment: This is not a declared war. Sure, we call it the "War on Terror", but technically, it isn't. Congress is the government entity with the power to declare war, and they've done no such thing. So while our troops on the ground are following the rules of war, and I expect is all sounds, smells and feels like a war to them, it isn't legally a war. So trying to use that historical precedent to justify these actions is a bogus argument.

OK, that doesn't hold water, let's try something else. Some legal authorities claim that the President has an independent authority to authorize this sort of surveillance. (FOXNews has a pretty good piece on that aspect of things.) Just yesterday, White House spokesman Scott McClellan stated yesterday "Under Article 2 of the Constitution, as commander in chief, the president has that authority."

In what universe, Scotty? I just reread Article 2, and I don't see anything that I can interpret as allowing the President this authority. As I understand it, the case for this authority is made around this language:

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:--" I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Could someone please enlighten me on how violating the Fourth Amendment preserves, protects or defends the document it's a part of?

McClellen also makes the point that:

"It is limited to people who have--one of the parties to the communication [who has] a clear connection to Al Qaeda or terrorist organizations and one of the parties [who] is operating outside of the United States. And I think that's important for people to know, because there's been some suggestions that it's spying inside the U.S. That's not the case."

Maybe, maybe not. The New York Times is reporting:

The officials say the National Security Agency's interception of a small number of communications between people within the United States was apparently accidental, and was caused by technical glitches at the National Security Agency in determining whether a communication was in fact "international."

(Link from Drudge; you may need BugMeNot to read it.)

Working in technology, I know that no system is perfect, and I can see just how some calls that don't fit the defined criteria could slip into the net. But it just creeps me out that one of my phone calls, or one of your phone calls, could have been monitored by the NSA--even accidentally.

The least effective argument trotted out is by Alberto Gonzales.

Gonzales told reporters that the Supreme Court decision on Hamdi reinforced the claim that the president was given wide permission in the Sept. 14, 2001, vote by Congress authorizing the president to "use all necessary and appropriate force" against those behind the Sept. 11 attacks.

Gonzales said the congressional authorization did not specifically mention the word "detention," but in the Hamdi case, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote in the majority opinion "that detention of enemy soldiers captured on the battlefield ... had been authorized by the Congress when they used the words, 'authorize the president to use all necessary and appropriate force.'"

"We believe the court would apply the same reasoning to recognize the authorization by Congress to engage in this kind of electronic surveillance," Gonzales said.

"We believe"? I'll tell you what--you trot that thing into court and let's see what the courts say. If they bless that stretch of logic, then I'll grant it--but not before. Ol' simple black-and-white me, I'm not buying it.

In short, this whole thing fails to pass the world famous "sniff test".

The really frustrating part is that there was already a process in place where the government could have gotten the necessary warrants in secret. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court was set up in 1978 just for this sort of thing.

However, even this secretive court requires the government to do its homework before applying, and I think that's part of the problem--the dark and creepy part of our government wanted to watch certain people or groups based on their suspicions, which may not have been supported by the evidence at hand.

Travel down that road too far, and you find yourself in the land of the police state. By all reports, East Germany was an unpleasant place, and I don't want to see us take any risk of becoming even a little like them.

I don't want to see our country give up the freedoms that make us the most special country in history in order to "save us". Ben Franklin warned:

Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

My suspicion is that if we give them up, the terrorists won't stand a chance. Our own government will see to it we have neither Liberty nor Safety.

Edit: Jennifer Granick thinks the President has broken the law.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Get ready, because here it comes

Oh, we've been bad boys and girls and Daddy has scolded us! Oh my, how can we make amends?

"...lawmakers explored possibilities Monday for a compromise to temporarily extend portions of the anti-terrorism law due to expire Dec. 31."

In other words, the Senate of the United States, having taken a very well-reported stand against extending 16 of the most abuse-prone portions of the Patriot Act, isn't preparing for a "compromise to temporarily extend" the blasted things--they're trying to figure out how to vote for them without having their political heads handed to them.

It will be done as close to either Christmas or New Year's as possible, in order to try and minimize the publicity. That is the way of things in Washington.

Data point: VP Cheney has cut his Middle East trip short, so that he can get home to fulfill his "constitutional duties". They specifically mention his tie-breaking vote in the Senate. Could the fix be in already?

We're being sold down the river. Mark my words.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Vox on marriage

It seems that Vox Day has been reading John Ross--or maybe great minds just think alike.

"..you're not his wife, you're his cook." I love that line!

The Battle for the Bill of Rights

(Via Claire Wolfe)

With the news of the day, I thought this might be appropriate reading. Actually, the entire site appears quite interesting.

Dare we hope for a Christmas miracle?

FoxNews is reporting that the US Senate has blocked a cloture vote on reauthorization of the Patriot Act *spit*.

The fight isn't over, but the forces of freedom have won a major battle. Let's hope we can hang on and win the war.

The Holiday Christmas Concert

Daughter's band and chorus put on their Holiday Christmas Concert last night.

Yes, you're reading that correctly--the world "Christmas" is prominent in the title. Making matters worse (at least if you're a bed-wetting, hand-wringing, left-wing idiot) was the playlist:
  • "Christmas Music for Winds"
  • "Coventry Carol"
  • "The Water is Wide"
  • "Ferandole"
  • A singalong consisting of "Hark! Herald The Angels Sing", "O Come All Ye Faithful", Deck the Halls", "Silent Night", "The First Noel", Joy to the World" and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas"
  • "Melt the Winter to Spring"
  • "Carol of the Bells"
  • "All the Starry Band"
  • "Mary, Did You Know"
  • "Hallelujah Chorus"
(About at this point, any Liberal bed-wetters who have stumbled across this will spontaneously combust. Good.)

I'm sure you'll notice that a few of the selections have absolutely nothing to do with Christmas, but as the band/chorus director (it's a small school) says, "There's no rule in the band manual that says all the music in a Christmas concert has to be holiday music."

However, the vast majority of the selections are all about Christmas, and rightfully so. We live in a small town in the (occupied) South, we're predominately Christian and we're celebrating...

Christmas!

It was really great to see white, black and hispanic students, singing and playing music that celebrates the season we're jointly celebrating. It was even better to see a good turnout of parents, family, faculty and staff for the concert, especially on the evening of a day that had been dominated by ice, sleet and freezing rain.

My thanks and gratitude to everyone who was there, and Merry Christmas!

Ch-ch-ch-changes

(With only minimal apologies to David Bowie)

I've made a change to the banner above. Starting now, it's going to change from pithy quote to pity quote when I feel the urge.

I've also made a few changes to the blogroll and the links. Some of those on the blogroll have stopped blogging for various reasons, and there's not much reason to keep them around. There are some new entries as well, and I invite you to go visit.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

North Carolina puts its best foot forward again

E-voting rules head to court this week in North Carolina, where election officials stand accused of ignoring a tough new state law designed to raise the bar on procedures to ensure machines are secure and accurate.

Yes, once again the government of my home state steps on a certain male appendage.

In the suit filed last week, EFF says the North Carolina State Board of Elections -- working with the Office of Information Technology Services -- certified two vendors to sell machines in North Carolina although the vendors did not comply with a new law requiring them to place all source code for a system into escrow before the machines could be certified.

Now I can't really tell you how I know, but this isn't the Office of Information Technology Services only issue revolving around poor technology choices. The frightening thing is that the State of NC has won several awards for excellence in government computing.

Of course, we as taxpayers will have to pay to foot the legal defense bill. Our tax dollars at work.

Free Enterprise?

You know, I don't have a problem with entrepreneurship--as a matter of fact, I love it. Nothing makes me feel better than dealing with someone who is working for themselves, building a small business.

However, when you decide to build it by, in effect, stealing the words of others, I think you're a scumbag. Perhaps I'm a bit biased since I write a lot, but I know how much time and effort go into writing.( I do it for you folks for free, but hey--you're serving as a combination of free therapy and guinea pigs for my work. Love ya!)

News.com is reporting that a company named Brandimensions is using technology to scour the Internet, gathering "word of mouth" type information on various TV shows, then aggregating and selling it in the same way various pollsters take polls and sell the results. According to News.com, Brandimensions

...used its proprietary technology to gather written comments from Internet chat rooms, message boards, blogs and the like in order to determine which new shows boast the best--and worst--buzz.

You know, this is just flat wrong. Of course, I'm sure Brandimensions would disagree, citing a "fair use" exception, or claiming that they're not reselling our actual words. Given our legal system (hey, it's the best money can buy), they may be legally correct.

However, when someone like Nielson asks me if I want to participate in a poll, I have a choice. I can say yes or no as the spirit moves me. In this case, my opinions may be taken without my permission and used to make them money.

Just because technology and the law allow something doesn't make it right, and Brandimensions is wrong.

But I doubt they care about that particular opinion.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The final Carnival of Cordite is up

Calm down--it's the final one for this year. Gullyborg is going to take some well-earned time off. He'll return in the new year with more of that gunny goodness we all know and love.

#41 covers a lot of ground, including the Pearl Harbor anniversary, carrying for personal protection, San Freakcisco's "turn in your guns" mandate and much, much more. All in one tidy package.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

I am worthy!

Well, sometime late yesterday, Blogger finally got around to reviewing my request to remove their stupid "word verification" from my blog posting.

Hello, Your blog has been reviewed, verified, and whitelisted so that it will no longer appear as potential spam. If you sign out of Blogger and sign back in again, you should be able to post as normal. Thanks for your patience, and we apologize for any inconvenience this has caused. Sincerely, Blogger Support

You know, an intelligently designed system would have just flagged the blogs that might have been spam blogs, then relied on human intelligence to make the final decision. Instead, we have to go about this bass-ackwards. If I designed systems like this where I work, I'd be out of a job. Oh well, I guess you get what you pay for.

Just in time for Christmas?

OK, I know that you don't live under a rock, so you've hear about "avian influenza", better known as "bird flu". If you haven't, here's one of the better sources I know for information (click on "What's New" for the latest info).

It seems that the US government has been watching the situation as well, although from the amount they've talked about it, you'd never know. Well, it seems they're talking now:

The federal authorities are preparing to face a possible avian flu pandemic in the United States by contemplating a worst-case scenario, under which more than 92 million people will become ill in the space of four months...

92 million? Well, that's about a third of the population of the US. Think of it in these terms--imagine 1/3 of the employees where you work out sick at one time, and some other portion out either caring for them or because they've decided they're going to stay home so they don't get sick. So let's make it 1/2 of the people where you work are out.

How long could your company function with only 1/2 its employees? How long can any company function like that?

Probably just long enough for the economy to collapse. You might want to buy some more beans and bullets soon.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Concealed carry reciprocity or not?

(Via Mark C., an Internet correspondent)

Most states that issue concealed carry permits have reciprocal agreements with other states--I honor your, you honor mine. Excellent system, unless your law enforcement officers don't get the joke:

JL Mccloud and the SC Highway Patrol
To all SC law enforcement

So Rusty, how goes the good fight?

Merry Christmas, troops

Hundreds of Fort Bragg families have something to smile about this Christmas. Seven hundred and fifty Christmas trees were given out to Fort Bragg soldiers as part of the Trees for the Troops program.

To paraphrase Tiny Tim, "God bless them, every one."

Arrogance

Well, heck, I couldn't possibly pay for it myself! Wait--the taxpayers can pay for it!

House Speaker Jim Black on Wednesday defended spending taxpayer money to cover some of the legal costs his office incurs during a federal grand jury probe of the video poker and lottery industries.

The arrogance of our elected politicians never ceases to amaze me, even though it should.

Eerily familiar?

Headline from News.com: FBI: We're not worried about terrorist cyberattack

There's nothing on my desk, or the director's desk, that would cause any concern today," Reigel [BI Assistant Director Louis Reigel, head of the FBI's Cyber Division--FH ] told reporters in a briefing at FBI headquarters.

Peter Trahon, who heads the FBI unit that handles computer intrusions, added, "We're not aware of any plan to attack U.S. infrastructure.

Now I'm worried.

Patriot Act closer to renewal?

Well's here's some juicy news from the freedom front--Arlyn Specter (RINO-PA) has announced that there has been a deal to renew the Patriot Act for 4 years with little or no change. While there is some speculation that this may be a move to pressure members of Congress, I suspect that it really is a done deal--our Congresscreatures want to go home for their non-denominational non-specific winter holiday recess.

There are 6 members backing a reform plan, known as the SAFE Act, but I expect that it's perfectly safe--from any chance of passage.

If I had the software and the knowledge, I'd love to take one of the scenes from the Wizard of Oz where everyone is arm in arm and skipping down the Yellow Brick Road and overdub it with new lyrics. "We're off to form an empire, the wonderful American Empire...".

Mourn the Republic, while it's still legal.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Pity they won't sell them to us "general public" types

Here's a great survival item:

A lightweight, non-woven blanket engineered by a South Carolina company is keeping disaster victims dry and warm from the Gulf Coast to the mountains of Pakistan to the tsunami-ravaged areas of Southeast Asia.

The blanket developed by the Polymer Group is warmer than traditional blankets woven of cotton or wool. One side is soft and provides comfort next to the body; the other has a backing to provide a barrier from moisture, dirt and debris.

Oops--spoke too soon. A great survival product that we can't have:
The Polymer Group itself has donated tens of thousands of the blankets, which are not for sale to the general public.

Charity is a great thing, but would you sell us some, please? Pretty please?

Touching history

On the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, this article about the USS Arizona strikes a particular note. Not the garden variety Arizona article at all--maybe that's why it appeals to me.

Thanks, sailors.

Freakin' Blogger

You have got to love this. I get ready to post on Blogger, and I have this cute little "word verification" crap at the bottom. You know, the one where an image of a few letters is generated, and you have to type it in the box?

There's a nice little "?" icon beside it, so I click on that to see what the dickens is going on. The page informs me that Blogger's "have detected that your blog has characteristics of a spam blog."

WTF?

Luckily for me, they have a "What's a spam blog" link, so I clicked on that. (You can click on it too.) Apparently, because I link a lot, Blogger's every-busy little robots don't love me any more.

Then I read this:

Blogs engaged in this behavior are called spam blogs, and can be recognized by their irrelevant, repetitive, or nonsensical text, along with a large number of links, usually all pointing to a single site.

"...Irrelevant, repetitive, or nonsensical text, along with a large number of links"? Blogger, you may just bite me, but do it after you fix your grammar and then your poorly programmed robots.

I've filled out their request to get a real person to review my blog, and I sincerely hope they read this. I'll be interested to see what their reaction is. Given this sort of nonsense (which follows their introduction of the abuse-prone "Flag" button at the top right), I guess I'm going to have to once again consider whether or not it's worth it to me to pay for some professional blog hosting.

You know, I started this for fun and to practice my writing. The fun is getting thin when this sort of nonsense occurs, and I'm actually publishing my first try at a novel in a couple of online forums, a chapter at a time. If it wasn't for a fairly steady (if small) readership that I feel some obligation to, I think I'd just kill it now.

Spam blog my Aunt Fannie.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Carnival of Cordite #40

Now in it's 40th incarnation, the Carnival of Cordite is once again on the firing line. Gullyborg is in short-shrift mode, so we're all going to have to read each and every link to figure out what's going on.

Rats--you gotta hate that.

Own your own business

(Via El Reg)

If you have the desire to own your own business, you might be interested in this opportunity.

And yes, that's all I'm saying on the subject.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Are French men not up to the task?

(Via Drudge)

It would seem that French women prefer the effigy on Victor Noir's grave to their own menfolk. So much for the vaunted prowness of the French male--they must not be lovers or fighters.

Don't miss the picture. 'Nuff said.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

This land's not your land...

(Via Worldnet Daily)

The legacy of the Kelo decision continues, as governments get more and more audacious in their abuse of eminent domain:

Seizure limited to 16,000 of 17,244-acre ranch

The only reason they aren't getting the remaining 1244 acres is because they screwed up on their original paperwork. Of course, they can always get it later.

Oh, and it's in California. Like I'm surprised.


Friday, December 02, 2005

Chalk up #1000

Yes, my home state of North Carolina has executed the 1000th person since the death penalty was reinstated. The professionally indignant are, well, indignant. Oh how terrible we blood-thirsty, redneck Southerners are.

Well just hold the phone, Sparky. Your poor down-trodden cause celeb is a murdering scumbag. He shot his wife and his father-in-law to death. Allow me to remind you of the violence of the situation with this little quote from the above referenced article:

During the 1988 slayings, Boyd's son Christopher was pinned under his mother's body as Boyd unloaded a .357-caliber Magnum into her. The boy pushed his way under a bed to escape the barrage. Another son grabbed the pistol while Boyd tried to reload.

And:

"He went out and reloaded and came back and called 911 and said 'I've shot my wife and her father, come on and get me.' And then we heard more gunshots. It was on the 911 tape," Foster [the prosecuter--FH] said.

In The Freeholder's view of things, there are only two problems here. First, it took 11 years to accomplish this simple task. Second, he can't be executed twice.

However, the ever-liberal media has done nothing this entire week but show videos/photos of the murdering scumbag's sobbing family, all opining that "He doesn't deserve to die". No mention of his victims, no "We're sorry for what he did." The above referenced article is the only one I could find that had any description at all of his crime, other than to sanitize it by saying "convicted of murder".

Oh, and we had the obligatory notations that he has "found Jesus" and "turned his life around". Well, I'm glad he found Jesus, and I hope is well and truly forgiven by God for his acts. He still has to pay the price in this world.

Oh, and I haven't seen a single interview with the victim's family. I wonder what they think?

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Like the .45 ACP?

If you're a fan of the .45 ACP, here's a site with some interesting information for you. If you're a fan of other calibers (there are other calibers?), the site has a variety of information on a number of other popular pistol calibers one level up.

Because we can do more than stick a yellow ribbon on our cars

Does the name Jim Scoutten ring a bell? He's the host of Shooting USA and Sighting In, 2 interesting gun programs on the Outdoor Life Network. He also has a son currently serving in the Sandbox--you can see a big portrait of him in the background on every episode of Shooting USA.

He's also started Operation Thank You, a program to get mail (and care packages if you wish) to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan who aren't getting much mail from home. For the price of a stamp, a piece of paper and an envelope, you can make someone's day.

Considering what they're doing for us, is that a lot to ask? Sharpen up your pencils, people.

(Credit Where It's Due Dept.: I've shamelessly stolen their motto for the headline of this entry, because it really says it all.)

OK, so waste 3 minutes of your time

This was sent to me by one of my numerous Internet spies. As he noted, "Someone has way to much time on their hands".

Anyone know what the music is?

Edit: An Internet correspondent reports that the music is "Wizards of Winter" by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. He also notes "I guess this is what happens with a computer/radio techie has WAY TOO MUCH free time and far too many Christmas lights available !!!"

Monday, November 28, 2005

Shot in the foot?

(Via Claire Wolfe)

The dominos of modern criminal science just keep falling. First, we find out that fingerprints may not be a reliable identifier, now we find out that gun shot residue can be passed from person to person. Of course, both of these findings come via the UK, and have no official effect on our courts here.

Unless your Justice Sandra Day O'Conner, of course.

Not to be outdone

Our politicians at the Federal level apparently want to prove that they will not lag behind the State of NC in graft.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

A lot of us think of Thanksgiving as a time to eat too much, take a couple of days off work, watch football on TV and hit the Black Friday sales. A nice, modern Thanksgiving.

Originally, in the Pilgrim tradition, a thanksgiving day could be declared at anytime of the year, and was a day for solemn reflection and prayer. In 1863, during War Between the States, President Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday in November Thanksgiving Day.

Over time, as American society became more affluent, food and fellowship with family and friends took over. As our current consumerism driven culture took hold, we added in the "After Thanksgiving Sale!" part of the equation.

And here we are.

As I write this, the turkey is in the oven, and I have the CNBC special "The Age of Wal-mart" on the TV in the den. In a couple of hours, we'll load up the food and take a short trip to my Dad's house, to spend time with him and my Mom.

It's easy to look at your life and see all the things that are wrong, that you don't like, that you aren't happy with. It's against human nature to be satisfied with the status quo, and that is what keeps us going.

But for this one day, I'm going to count my blessings, and I'm going to be satisfied with the status quo.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 21, 2005

The Carnival of Cordite is on the air!

Yes, the Carnival of Cordite #39 is up at Resistance is Futile!. Once again, Gullyborg has all sorts of gunny goodness and this time, some badness, as someone violates one of the Four Rules. Read and be enlightened.

Beware, I have an entry this week.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Not harsh enough by half

(Via Drudge)

An Ohio judge has sentenced a woman who abandoned cats in a local park to 14 days in jail. Oh, and a night in one of the local parks so she can get a taste of what it's like to be an abandoned cat.

Painesville Municipal Court Judge Michael A. Cicconetti on Thursday sentenced Murray, 25, of Painesville Township, to jail time. But he added a stipulation to ensure that Murray "suffer the same consequences as those kittens."

"You can listen to the coyotes, hear the raccoons in the dark of night," said Cicconetti, who grew increasingly annoyed at Murray's apology attempts in court.

Good for Judge Cicconetti, although I wouldn't have suspended any jail time, and she'd have done the entire 90 days in the park.

Of course, if I'd really had my way, she'd be dropped off 100 miles from the nearest town, with the clothes on her back and a pocket knife. "Civilization is that way," I'd point, then climb back in the chopper and fly out. If she gets back, fine--she's served her sentence. If she doesn't, fine too. She's suffered an appropriate punishment.

Second infraction is a bullet to the back of the head.

The lowest place in Hell is reserved for child molesters and those who abandon animals.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

What Hero are you?

(Via the GeekWithA.45)

Me, I'm Maximus.

You scored as Maximus. After his family was murdered by the evil emperor Commodus, the great Roman general Maximus went into hiding to avoid Commodus's assassins. He became a gladiator, hoping to dominate the colosseum in order to one day get the chance of killing Commodus. Maximus is valiant, courageous, and dedicated. He wants nothing more than the chance to avenge his family, but his temper often gets the better of him.

Maximus


63%

Lara Croft


63%

Indiana Jones


58%

Batman, the Dark Knight


54%

James Bond, Agent 007


46%

William Wallace


38%

Captain Jack Sparrow


38%

The Terminator


38%

The Amazing Spider-Man


33%

Neo, the "One"


33%

El Zorro


21%

Which Action Hero Would You Be? v. 2.0
created with QuizFarm.com

Sony--not done just yet

Wired reporter Bruce Schneier has this interesting piece on the Sony BMG music rootkit fiasco. It's interesting to see how long this thing was floating around out there before it was noticed and the major security software publishers lack of interest in updating their software to deal with it.

Given the cost of using Windows or a Mac, the security issues with Windows and the ever-increasing copy-protection crap on both platforms, open source is looking better all the time.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Harry Potter and the Half-Crazed Bureaucracy

(Via Jerry Pournelle)

Benjamin Barton of the University of Tennessee (Knoxville) College of Law has written an essay (abstract and full paper available here) examining the government apparent in JK Rowling's Harry Potter series. If his point of view is correct, it's a pretty dark sort of government, run by and for bureaucrats.

Given Ms. Rowling is from the UK, is that any surprise?

Consider this partial list of government activities: a) torturing children for lying; b) utilizing a prison designed and staffed specifically to suck all life and hope out of the inmates; c) placing citizens in that prison without a hearing; d) allows the death penalty without a trial; e) allowing the powerful, rich or famous to control policy and practice; f) selective prosecution (the powerful go unpunished and the unpopular face trumped-up charges); g) conducting criminal trials without independent defense counsel; h) using truth serum to force confessions; i) maintaining constant surveillance over all citizens; j) allowing no elections whatsoever and no democratic lawmaking process; k) controlling the press.

Yep, sounds familier. Overstated, but familier.

I am humbled in the presence of greatness

Now this gentleman is a reloader!

The feminine side of gun rights

Wendy McElroy, writing for FOXNews, explores gun rights and gun ownership from a feminine perspective. Very interesting and chocked full of facts on gun ownership trends in the US.

And the light bulb is finally lit

News.com is reporting that Sony has decided to do the right thing and recall their copy protection-infested music CDs.

Of course, this is after several new flaws were discovered that allow enterprising crackers even more ways to take over a Sony-compromised PC.

Somehow, I think it is just simpler to stick to CD players.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Carnival of Cordite #38

A Veteran's Day special edition of the Carnival of Cordite awaits you here.

You gotta love that picture of Patton.

Spec Ops?

(From FreedomSight)

You gotta be kidding. Me?!

You scored as Special Ops. Special ops. Your sneaky, tactful, and a loner. You prefer to do your jobs alone, working where you don't come into contact with people. But everyonce in a while you hit it big and are noticed and given fame. Your given the more sensitive problems. You get things done, and do what has to be done.

"VULCAN NECK PINCH!!!"
"owww.......(slump)"

Special Ops


88%

Engineer


63%

Officer


56%

Combat Infantry


56%

Artillery


50%

Medic


38%

Support Gunner


38%

Civilian


0%

Which soldier type are you?
created with QuizFarm.com

National Ammo Day

I need to remind you that Saturday is


Get out there and buy a 100 rounds. Send a message.

Our financial house of cards

(Noted on TimeBomb 2000)

USATODAY notes that we have A 'fiscal hurricane' on the horizon.

Pithy quotes include:

"We face a demographic tsunami" that "will never recede," David Walker [Comptroller General of the US--FH] tells a group of reporters. "Social Security is Grenada," Holtz-Eakin [Congressional Budget Office--FH] says. "Medicare is Vietnam."

Myself, I like the phrase they didn't use: Inter-generational warfare. Barring changes, I believe it will come to that as Generation X, Generation Y and all those that come after see ever-increasing portions of their paychecks disappear into the ever-widening maw of our entitlement programs.

As someone who was born at the very end of the Baby Boom, I gave up on the prospect of collecting Social Security over 20 years ago when I did the math. I wonder what will happen when the Generation-whatevers figure out that they were well and truly screwed by their grandparents, and decide that "Enough's enough!"?

Monday, November 14, 2005

A weekend at the range

Well, not the whole weekend, but a goodly portion of it at any rate.

As I mentioned earlier, Friday was a trip to the range with my Dad and a certain Mountain Man. I went lightly loaded with the M-1 Carbine (for my favorite veteran to shoot) and my SAR-8, both of which I'm working on sighting in. The Mountain Man brought several items, including his rather incredible AR-10 with the Leupold scope and his Eagle M4gery.

The M-1 most definitely needs some further work with the sights. Some questioning on The High Road led me to the information that M-1 Carbines were all made with over-tall front sights, and sighting in is accomplished by filing down the front sight. I've been a little leary about filing the sight, but after having my Dad shoot it for a while, I've come to the conclusion that it's going to have to happen. It isn't me; it really does shoot consistantly low.

It seems that the same will need to happen to the SAR-8 (which is a clone of the HK-91, made by Springfield Armory). I finally invested in the proper rear sight adjustment tool, and have now discovered that there is "only" about 1' of elevation adjustment at 100 yards. This isn't enough, as it left me about 6" low. Setting the rear to the 300 meter setting adjusted the POI to 1-2" high. So I guess I'm going to have to center things back up, then take a file to the front sight of it as well.

Damn, this is a scary thought. I'm filing on my guns. E-E-E-K!

I guess I'll take the gun vise with me to the range, and just plan on a really long day. Take a few swipes with the file, test fire. Repeat until correct.

Even with the sights a bit off and his eyes bothering him, Dad was pretty much on target. Still, it was frustrating to him, and after a while with the M-1, the Mountain Man let him try the M4gery, which is fitted with a red dot sight.

Warning to Bad Guys. My Dad will hit you, 20 of 20 at 100 yards. In the head. I have the target to prove it. I probably better keep him away from gun stores, or he may have a setup like this soon. Then again, if I can borrow it occasionally....

My Dad also brought two of his war trophies, a Walther 6.35 pistol (that's .25 auto for us Americans) and a Beretta 7.65 (.32 auto), both of which he "obtained" during WWII. Further warning to Bad Guys: He sees just fine up close. They may be little pistols, but he doesn't miss. I can state this categorically after watching him fire several magazines.

Sunday was a "Take the Kids to Shoot" day. This time it was a .22 kind of day, just one of those days to go out and relax with something that goes bang cheaply but often. We took a Marlin 10/22 with a 4x scope, the old Sears/Marlin 81 that's fast becoming my favorite .22, and the venerable Remington Sportmaster 512.

You know, it's strange. My children think it's great fun to see how many holes you can poke in an innocent piece of paper. Of course, the lose interest when you can't find much target to count the holes in, but then they just go on to shooting used shotshells at 50 and 100 yards. Daughter was doing this from a bag rest at 100 yards--with iron sights.

Me, I had to content myself with shooting spray paint can tops at 100 yards with the little 4x scoped Sears/Marlin, using a post for an improvised rest. I'm getting old--I can't even see a shotshell at 100 yards, scope or not.

Survival information from an unlikely source

One of the things I love about being a geek is that other geeks are interested in the most fascinating things. Like survivalism.

Oh, they don't really realize it, and they'd deny it if you called them on it, but they are. Don't believe me? Check out this report from Wired on the long-term edibility of various items stored for as long as 28 years.

28 year old oatmeal, huh? Who else but a geek would have considered trying this? Well, OK, besides somebody who was really stoned out of their gourd....

If this is success...

God save the French from failure, is all I can say.

Overnight, the number of car-torchings "— a barometer of the unrest " dropped sharply, with youths setting fire to 284 vehicles, compared to 374 the previous night, police said Monday.

I suppose it is an improvement over 1,200 per night, but the fact that any cars are burned indicates a continuing problem, at least as I would see it.

Perhaps the French will take it seriously when they graduate to burning cars in nicer neighborhoods.

Perhaps it's time to start getting concerned

(Via Drudge)

I've been watching the "bird flu" story with a cross of interest and amusement. Interest because it is important from a survivalist point of view; amusement due to the near-hysteric play it's received in some of the non-mainstream press.

Maybe it's time to be less amused:

Scientists in Vietnam believe the H5N1 bird flu strain has mutated, allowing it to breed more effectively in mammals, though not necessarily in humans, online newspaper VnExpress said yesterday.

Score one (sorta) for the consumer

News.com is reporting two pieces of good news on the Sony rootkit copy protection scheme from Hell story:

Sony has decided that making its customer's computers vulnerable to compromise is a Bad Thing and is going to stop production of music CDs using the rootkit approach to copy protection.

Microsoft has decided that Sony's ill-considered scheme is a danger to the integrity of the Windows OS and is going to wipe it via the Windows Antispyware product.

I'd say that this shows two things. First, Sony, as large a corporation as it is, is vulnerable to pressure. Second, Microsoft actually does seem to be taking the security of the Windows OS seriously. Both of these fall into the good news category.

Friday, November 11, 2005

The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month

Whether you call it Remembrance Day, Armistice Day or Veterans day...

Thank you, veterans.

Now, I'm off to take my father, late of the 27th Armored Infantry Regiment, 9th Armored Division, to the range, followed by a football game this evening.



My Dad is in the center row, far right.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Bliss Ninnies on parade

I'm sure all you gunnies have heard that the bliss ninnie majority in San Francisco have approved a ballot initiative (Preparation Proposition H) that bans the manufacture, distribution, sale and transfer of firearms and ammunition in San Francisco; along with a Measure H, which bans the possession of handguns.

Allow me some predictions:
  • Even though a lot of people and organizations are suing, both Proposition H and Measure H will survive.
  • After the court challenges are over, crime will slowly start to rise as the criminal element figures out that SF has become a target-rich environment.
  • Most handgun owners will not turn in their guns, choosing to become criminals rather than be disarmed.
  • Anyone who used a handgun to defend themselves will be arrested for illegal possession of a handgun.
  • Some poor joker is going to be arrested for reloading ammo in San Francisco.
  • Some number of individuals and business will leave San Francisco (and probably California altogether) for freer climes.
  • More bliss ninnies will move to San Francisco because it's friendlier to their beliefs. They will serve as fresh meat to the criminal element.
  • As crime increases, so will the cries for government to do something.
  • The Big One will finally hit and solve this problem for us by wiping San Francisco off the map, eliminating bliss ninnies by the hundreds of thousands.
OK, I'll admit it. That last one's more of a hope than a prediction.

Sony music, root kits and "What were they thinking?"

The story about Sony BMG music CDs installing software disguised with a rootkit has been buzzing around the Internet for a week or two now. (I got it here first.) Fellow geeks, I assume you could see this coming....

Some enterprising trojan writer has figured out how to take advantage of it.

And...

Sony is getting sued.

However, we're getting some help from some of the antivirus companies. Some of them are taking this seriously, and are adding this to their list of malware to be deleted when found. Please note that one of the largest and most popular vendors among home users, Symantec, is only identifying the software, not removing it as they should.

Home PC users, you might take this as a data point in your purchasing decisions.

One of these days, the music industry and the movie studios are going to learn that trying to lock their content up too tightly is always going to backfire. If they'd just make it easily available for reasonable prices with reasonable restrictions, they will make money in sinfully large piles.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Life as an engineering problem

Have you ever felt that your workday, maybe even your life, was experienced in small fragments? Worse yet, every time you try to "get something done", someone or something interrupts you?

As a professional computer geek, I get this feeling all the time. I'm trying to do some research for a project, and email dings. While I'm reading the email, the phone rings. While talking on the phone and trying to read the email, someone shows up at my door. Waving to them to take a seat, I try to finish the email and the phone conversation at the same time to so I give my visitor a time slice.

Sound familiar to anyone?

How about this--You have to work late. Your spouse takes your son to ball practice and your daughter to dance, but then has to go to their evening class. You leave work and pick up daughter at dance, then run to your favorite big-box retailer to pick up some stuff. Spouse gets the son after her class is over (but he had to kill 15 minutes waiting for them to arrive, and everyone meets somewhere for supper, which is at 8:30. Then you run home, get the kids through the bath routine and off to bed. Then you VPN into the office to finish a few things while your spouse does homework.

Nah, none of us ever have these problems.

While perusing the latest Infoworld, I ran across a mention of an article published in the New Your Times Magazine, "Meet the Life Hackers." A quick Google turns it up on the web.

Go read this article. I'm not going to try to summarize it for you; I think you need to read the whole thing, mentally digest it, then read it again later. That's what I plan on doing, then seeing if I can apply some of it to my life and see if it really makes a difference, or if it's just different. It should be an interesting experiment.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Fred's at it again

I've been catching up on Fred Reed's columns. Fred's always a good read, but this one on PMS is better than average.

Ducking and weaving, he said "And it has the advantage of truth!"

Ouch!

It's a curfew! Run, Achmed, run!

The French government has declared a state of emergency and imposed a curfew after 12 nights of rioting and burning.

Let me explain this to the French in simple terms. They're rioting, burning cars and buildings, setting old women on fire, beating old men and now it's spreading to other countries.

Do you morons think they're going to worry about violating a curfew?

Europe may get through this, at least this time. However, their restive Moslem population now knows how far they can go, and next time they'll go there and then push a bit further. Next time, further. Eventually, given the European penchant for "accommodation" (love that word), Europeans will be minorities in their own countries.

Perhaps they should call the Israelis for advice?

Edit: Fred Reed has advice for them:

"What the French need to do, but won’t, is to send the army into the Islamic slums, round up the whole lot, and put them ashore on the beaches of North Africa with a box lunch and a coupon for three free Dunkin Donuts. It isn’t a pretty answer. It’s a lot prettier than what seems to be coming down the pike."

Smart fellow, Fred.

Now here's some Pay Per View I can get behind

I've commented before that I don't watch much TV. However, if this concept works out for CBS and NBC, I think other networks will be quick to adopt it--and you might see me watching more TV (making the assumption that there is something on I deem worth the effort).

Of course, they want to do this by pushing it to a DVR that you're paying a subscription to use, and I'll bet that you won't be able to burn a copy of the show, but at least they're starting to get the idea. Now when they make them available as $0.99 video downloads via the Internet, they'll really be onto something.

But I won't be holding my breath. Old media isn't enthusiastic about changing, and they're only going to do so kicking and screaming. But it is fun to watch. Anyone got earplugs?

Monday, November 07, 2005

Serenity

OK, I'm late to the party, like usual. I didn't see Firefly on TV, and I wasn't one of the first in line to see Serenity in the theater. If that makes me less of a fan, well, TS.

So Sunday, Mrs. Freeholder and I make a trip to one of the local cinemas, without the children, to partake of Mr. Whedon's work. Mrs. Freeholder was in more of a "good sport" mode, but at least she went.

Even she was impressed, if marginally. Her take was that it reminded her in some ways of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She pointed out something that I wouldn't have noticed--most of the cast had been in Buffy or Angel at some point, and most if not all played bad guys.

Me, I guess I'm just easy. I was pretty impressed. I suppose it's due, in large part, to my sympathy for the story line. Being from the South, I have an inbred affinity for underdogs. Add to that a more than superficial resemblance to the Southern diaspora that occurred after the late unpleasantness, and I guess I'm just ripe to be a sucker for the show and the movie.

I also appreciate that Whedon didn't monkey around with the characters, he didn't muck up the story line and some more things got explained. They did fiddle with the music, making it more "cinematic". I'm not sure if it's better, worse or just different.

Without doing a spoiler, I'm not happy that there are some things that will now be difficult, if not impossible, to explain. I would have really like to had some answers to those questions, but as in life, I guess some questions must remain unanswered.

Now I get to wait for the DVD. I wonder how long that's going to take. And when's the next movie, huh? I'm jonesing here....

Edit: Claire Wolfe is reporting that Serenity ships on 12/20, and is available for preorder at here at amazon.com. Oh, and you can get Firefly too.

Carnival of Cordite #37

Gullyborg has again blessed us with a new Carnival of Cordite, this week featuring small furry creatures with guns.

I'm not kidding.

Also, while Gullyborg notes this post from Says Uncle, I want to particularly draw your attention to it, since it involves one of my very favorite alphabet agencies.

Happy reading.

30,000

30,000--that's the population of a large town or a small city. It's the number of seats in one of the smaller major league baseball fields. It's the size of a US Army Corps.

Wired also reports that it's also the number of "national security letters" issued by the FBI on a yearly basis. These letters allow access to your Internet use, telephone, email and financial records, all without judicial review. (Not that I trust the judicial system, but any sort of oversight would make me a little more comfortable.)

30,000 is 100 times the historical average of these letters, which first came into use with the passage of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act in 1986.

But as a good citizen I suppose I should feel reassured that:

"The Department of Justice inspector general in August 2005 found no civil rights violations with respect to the Patriot Act."

The Patriot Act. Well, now. There are no civil rights violations under the Patriot Act. That's comforting. I guess the US Constitution doesn't apply in this case, huh?

Edit: Gunner at No Quarters has an interesting take on the subject.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Another one bites the dust

Headline: Slain Clarion University student armed, looking for drugs

"We're still mourning the loss of Kristopher Mills," said Mark Brentley Sr. "He was my son's roommate for two years. He was just like one of us."

Well, I'm not mourning him, and I question anyone who claims him as "one of us".

Criminal justice

Whether you like, hate or don't care about Rush Limbaugh, if you look at the investigation of his alleged "doctor shopping" for pain medication, you can't help but think "prosecutorial misconduct".

As I've said before, they don't call it the "criminal justice system" for nothing....

A warning shot

Europe is so far gone down the road to Collectivism City that they probably won't see it like this, but I have to believe that the continuing series of riots outside Paris, now spreading to other areas of France, are their "shot across the bow".

The cultures of the great countries of Europe are in danger of extinction. They being buried under wave after wave of unassimilated immigrants, most of them from the always peaceful Moslem countries. Of course, countries like France seem incapable of facing that fact, decrying how these wonderful people have been marginalized in French society and are just trying to get ahead by rioting, burning their neighborhoods and shooting at police. (Oh wait, guns are highly controlled in France, so they couldn't possible be shooting at the police with guns. Sorry, couldn't resist that.)

It gets even better when the Prime Minister warns "Stop that, and I mean it this time!" for the seventh night in a row.

I wonder how upset the PM will get when the Louvre is burned?

Ready for a "Who gives a damn?" moment?

(Via Drudge)

Kenneth Tomlinson, board chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, has apparently had enough of fighting the good fight and has resigned.

Mr. Tomlinson has been working for some time to reform the CPB and through that, "public" television in this country. (Since CPB is the single biggest source of funding for "public" TV, this could have worked.) For those who don't understand why, it's due to the left/liberal/progressive/whatever-they-want-to-be-called-this-month bias that many have noticed in their programming.

Of course, his enemies are using the time-honored method of accusing him of their crimes, while at the same time commending him for "his legitimate efforts to achieve balance and objectivity in public broadcasting."

What a load of bushwa.

The only thing that irritates me more than Tomlinson's departure is the question of why the Federal gov'ment is funding CPB in the first place. Why not do something more useful and less culturally destructive with the money, like burning it in piles in front of the Capital Building?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Yet another victory for freedom

There are times I can almost get my hopes up--times that I think we may turn the tide before Something Horrible Happens.

Today is one of those times.

The Free Market News Network is reporting that the ATF has finally been forced to admit that they have no written standards for testing firearms. None. Not any. Zero. Bupkiss.

You can read the actual Congressional Research Service memo here, courtesy of JPFO.

The money quote?

ATF officials, meanwhile, have informed the Congressional Research Service that there is no "firearms testing procedures manual".

So we're allowing ATF agents to testify in court that, for example, a given gun is an illegal machine gun, even when they have no standard testing procedures for determining if it is or is not a machine gun versus a malfunctioning semi-automatic? We're allowing testimony regarding facts that is not based on a repeatable methodology? Say it ain't so, Ethyl!

This means that there are a lot of cases out there, cases where gun owners were convicted of various and sundry firearms violations, that can be reopened--and rightfully so. Hopefully, those wrongfully convicted will go free. Even better will be if those ATF agents who perpetrated these crimes find themselves on the wrong side of the bars.

I shall fire several magazines this weekend in celebration.

This is some important news--be sure to pass it around amongst your gunny friends.

Homeland Security Silliness

Attention Bingo fanatics: did you know that you may be funding international terrorism? No? Well rest easy, because the Directorate of Homeland Security is on the case!

The state of Kentucky has been awarded $36,300 to fund laptop computers for 5 investigators just so any terrorists with the idea of funding their evil operations from Bingo games can be stopped.

A state spokesdroid said that if this program is successful, an additional grant will be pursued in order to keep tabs on elementary school fundraisers.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Firefly

I'm not a big TV watcher. I will make an attempt to catch the local news, and I will also admit to watching the History Channel and A&E on occasion. Other than that, if it isn't on AMC or Turner Classic Movies, I'll likely miss it.

This has it's good points. If you aren't watching TV, you have time for all sorts of interesting things, like going to the range, reading, writing, blogging, going to gun shows, coaching the Son's baseball team and Friday night high school football--you know, a life.

Occasionally, it has its downside. Once in a while--a great while-- there is actually something on one of the networks worth watching. Firefly was one of those things. As one wag said, "It's the best show I never saw."

I picked up a copy on DVD on my recent trip to the House of the Mouse, and I'm just astounded. I'm a SF fan, and this show is the best SF TV I've ever seen, and that includes any of the Star Treks and the new Battlestar Galactica. If you haven't seen it, buy, beg or borrow a copy. Remind friends that it would make an excellent Christmas present. Do what it takes, but if you are an SF fan, you must see this.

Trust me on this one.

I hope you're enjoying Alito's nomination as much as I am

I took the day off to accomplish a few things around The Freehold, so I've been able to pretty much keep up with the evolution of President Bush's nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court from this morning's announcement to this evening's too predictable media silliness.

I'm going to make a few observations. First, even though a bunch of people around the blogosphere and elsewhere have been diligently researching his legal record, I think it's still a bit early to rejoice in any direction.

Second, it does seem to appear that the President has suddenly remembered just exactly who the dickens voted for him in the last election. About freakin' time, too.

Third, the denizens of Liberal Land are already frothing at the mouth that Judge Alito is "out of the mainstream", a "right wing ideologue" and is probably single-handedly responsible for global warming as well.

Expect this to be an entertaining few weeks.

Carnival of Cordite #36

Holy Aperture Sight, Batman, there are three dozen Carnival of Cordite entries! Congrats to Gullyborg on another successful entry, this time with a Halloween theme.

You know, I have got to do something interesting and gun-related soon, so I can get back into the swing of things. Perhaps some ballistics testing on leftover pumpkins....

Camp Freehold is no more

Well, at least Camp Freehold is no more for this year. The RV has been pulled back from its spring/summer/fall home at the campground and is currently in a maintenance bay, receiving a thorough PM from our crack team of maintenance techs (also known as me, myself and I).

This weekend was the big Halloween celebration, which is only rivaled by Christmas in the Freeholder pantheon of holidays. It's an excuse to don silly attire, wonder about the campground in the company of children and pass out obscene amounts of sugary treats.

Now that camping season is over (well, maybe one or two more weekend trips, just to stay in practice), it's time for Daughter's high school football team to make their annual trek through the playoffs. Can anyone say "road trip"?

Friday, October 28, 2005

A small victory for freedom

Wired News is reporting that earlier this month, judges in Texas and New York turned back Federal law enforcement attempts to turn cell phones into impromptu tracking devices.

Both judges rejected the location tracking portion of the request in harshly worded opinions, concluding investigators cannot turn cell phones into tracking devices by simply telling a judge the information is likely "relevant" to an investigation.

It's nice to see judges who "get it" for a change.

Buried further down in the story is this little nugget of information:

...the Electronic Privacy Information Center released documents acquired in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, which showed the FBI had repeatedly violated its own rules about surveillance of American citizens.

I think these are the documents they're referring to, but I haven't taken the time to read them.

This is why those of us on the side of privacy, smaller government and so on distrust the government--because we trust them to act exactly this way. Ask for what they want, no matter how outrageous, and then, when turned down, go ahead and do it anyway.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Celebrating a meaningless milestone

The blog has received over 10,000 visitors--10,420 as of just a minute ago.

Wheee!

Thanks to all of you for reading. It's nice to know that someone besides me finds this interesting.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Data point

The Gun Guy worked the Tulsa, OK gun show this weekend, and has some food for thought on ammo availability and pricing. I'm not sure how much shipping will effect cost and availability, given that the price oil and distillates thereof are declining (at least for now), but having plenty of ammo is always a good thing for that rainy day.

Whether you're in New Orleans or not. (Ouch! He said that!)

Hoo-ray for Carnival!

Yes, it's time for the Carnival of Cordite, this week in its 35th edition. Enjoy.

An encouraging development

It seems that Brazilians understand that restricting guns does not equate with safety. FOXNews is reporting that Brazil has rejected a measure that would have prohibited the sales of guns and ammo to anyone but the government or licensed collectors by a 2-to-1 margin.

This is a major defeat for the UN *spit* and gun control bliss ninnies the world over, who poured money by the millions into the country to try and get this foolish measure enacted.

Kudos to the people of Brazil for realizing that the government doesn't protect you--you do.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Hittin' the road

It's been far too long between trips to Camp Freehold, and this weekend I can finally return. Even though it was fun, this week has extracted a certain toll on me, physically and mentally, and I feel the urgent need to recharge the batteries.

Here's wishing you all a pleasant weekend.

Yes, there has been a distinct lack of blogage

Due to my recent trip to sunny Orlando, Florida for a business conference at the House of the Mouse.

Because the drive would have been about 9 hours, I broke one of my own rules and flew a commercial airline to Orlando. My choice was Southwest, based on a number of things, ranging from price to the availability of a non-stop flight at a reasonable hour at an airport relatively close to my home. The fact they fly larger planes and have a really good reputation didn't hurt their chances at getting my business, either.

I was really prepared to have a crappy trip, based on all the horror stories I've read, followed by a miserable time at a conference a long way from home with a bunch of people I didn't know and probably wouldn't like. I was wrong on both counts. The trip was pretty much painless--even the TSA personnel at the airports were pretty much polite and efficient without being overbearing or humorless. Southwest lived up to it's billing as a great travel value, and in Orlando, Dollar Rent-A-Car had my car, a Chrysler Sebring convertible, ready and waiting to take me to Disney World.

And yes, the top was down and the radio up. You think I'd have it any other way?

I was really wrong about the conference. Not only was it full of the information I needed (a rare occurrence at conferences from my experience), but we had plenty of time for getting to know each other and having some fun. I'm happy to report that I met some very bright and interesting folks, and maybe even started a new friendship or two.

I'm not going to go into the conference material, mostly because it's high computer geekery, and probably boring to most of you. I'd like to focus on the fun parts.

This was my first time visiting Disney World. If you've never been, let me tell you you've missed experiencing some world-class customer service and an incredibly well done tourist destination. Everything is exceptionally clean and well maintained, while the people are so intent on going that extra step that it takes to give great customer service that you have to wonder where they find them all. I'm not all that easily impressed with the service I receive most times, but I was very impressed this time.

I had planned on attending this conference before my Mom's recent illness, and I really wasn't very interested in going, all things considered. However, things on the home front went well in my absence, and I was lucky enough to get dragged into a considerable amount of after hours fun. For this, I owe Fran, Bryce and especially Melissa a debt of gratitude.

The conference planners also deserve a big "Thank You" as well, as they set up a number of events to keep us occupied and out of our hotel rooms as much as possible. Smart thinking.

Sunday, it was desert and drinks and a time to meet people before the evening fireworks at Epcot. It's hard to be too bummed at a fireworks display.

Monday evening was a trip to Pleasure Island, where we had the exclusive use of the Adventurer's Club for 2 1/2 hours, along with the complete attention of the entertainment staff (and an open bar to boot). If you go to Disney, let me warn you--the entertainment is participatory. But if you have the right attitude, you're going to have fun--the Disney staff will see to it.

After the Adventurer's Club, we were given armbands good for admission to all the nightclubs on the island. I wound up at 8 Traxx, which is a 70s and 80s music disco sort of place. I really didn't intend to; I had figured on doing a little shopping for Mrs. Freeholder and the kids then heading back to my room, but I was "drafted" by Melissa, who it turns out works at an place relatively near me, and who, after having seen my name and employer on the attendee list, had been looking for me. This is where I also met Fran, Bryce, and a lot of other conference folks. It seems we're all of a certain age....

We all had a great time, Melissa especially. The lady likes to dance, and she isn't shy about dragging guys to the dance floor. After my second round of dancing with her, I asked her if she was like this all the time. "Sure am!" she replied. I told her I felt sorry for her husband, who must be in a state of perpetual exhaustion just trying to keep up with her. She seemed to find that quite humorous.

Even though that was fun, it was more fun watching the women who came into the club. I'm convinced that the Disney researchers have found the Fountain of Youth that Ponce de Leon missed. Most of them were in their 30s or 40s, but within 5 minutes of entering, they had shed 20 years and acted like they were 20 again. It was an amazing transformation, and I had to smile watching them--it was that much fun to see. I was reminded of the Heinlein quote "there was never a girl born who ever grew older than eighteen in her heart".

Apparently, a smiling and apparently unattached man, even when he's older and rounder than he was 20 years ago, was attractive that night. I didn't lack for dance partners, and didn't manage to crawl into bed until 1:30 AM.

Tuesday, several of us blew off the afternoon agenda and top down, headed to the Disney/MGM portion of the site. Another rollicking good time was had by all.

However, all good things must come to an end, and at the end of the conference I returned home to The Freehold and the family, and the yard which needed mowing and the gutters that needed cleaning.

I wonder where next year's conference will be?

Sunday, October 16, 2005

It's time for Carnival

The Carnival of Cordite #34 is up at Resistance is Futile! .

Normally, I'd be happy to tell you I'm there, but I've been accused of...I can't say it...

gun pr0n!

Oh, wait--I'm guilty. Never mind.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The end of an era

If you've been around radio scanners and scanning for long, you know all about Police Call. Police Call is the source for frequency information.

Well, Wired is reporting that Gene Hughes, the man who started and has published Police Call since 1964, is retiring. Worse yet, the 2005 edition will be the last. Gene thinks that the Internet has effectively replaced the printed book as a resource.

Gene, don't do it! Retire if you like, but please pass Police Call along to someone to continue. There are still things in your books that the Internet doesn't know about or get right.

This is too important a resource to loose.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Tax reform?

(Via Drudge)

Not in our lifetimes, apparently. Bloomberg is reporting that the President's tax panel is looking at curbing various tax benefits and maybe doing away with the Alternative Minimum Tax *spit*, but that there be no, I repeat, NO fundamental changes in the tax system at the Federal level.

Well isn't that just precious? Mr. President, thank you so f'ing much for selling us down the river--AGAIN! You bring shame to your party, which we fools thought stood for smaller and less intrusive government. I hope the shade of Ronald Reagan dogs you for the rest of your life.

Memo to the Republican Party: I quit!

First the Democrats leave me. Now it appears the Republicans have left me as well. The Libertarians don't represent a real alternative as far as I'm concerned. Socialists are only useful for target practice. Where do I go?

Bring on the collapse of "civilization". At least our lying, traitorous politicians will be out of our lives.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

You go for days with nothing much to blog

and then there is all sorts of stuff out there you want to comment on. Due to a lack of time I'll have to keep it brief.

Found on CNET's News.com:

On Drudge, I note:

From various sources on the Internet:
Interesting notes from other bloggers:
  • The Capitalist Lion has two (1 and 2 ) very good posts on the UN's latest temper tantrum--they want to control the root DNS servers for the Internet. I don't think so. Let them go screw up a relief mission somewhere.
  • GeekWithA.45 has the best take on the drink can in the NY subway fiasco. You know, I may just have to watch Caddy Shack tonight.
  • Obnoxious Droppings has identified the next big thing. They ought to go over real big during the next election cycle.
  • Says Uncle brings us the latest in Homeland InSecurity/Zero Intelligence Tolerance news. Yo, Uncle! Some permalinks, please?
Well, that will have to do. Lunch time is over--it's back to the salt mines.

Edited 10/11/2005 @ 9:32. Uncle points out his permalinks are the post title. I shal refrain from comment. :-)

Monday, October 10, 2005

Is this a great country or what?

Despite the fact that I get really disgusted with the US on a fairly regular basis, you have to love a country where you can get a $30 license and then have guns and ammo delivered to your door via Big Brown Santa. Case (cases, perhaps?) in point:

Yes boys and girls, that is an e-e-evil Yugoslavian 59/66 SKS rifle (known to gun fearing wimps far and wide as a "horrible, high capacity assault rifle that can only used to shoot innocent children" {smirk}), complete with evil bayonet and even eviler grenade launcher (grenades not included).

Also included for extra evil are 2 980 round cases of South African 7.62x51, an 800 round case of Polish 7.62x54R and a 384 round can of Korean 30-06.

This is my first purchase on my C&R (Curio and Relic) license, which allows gun nuts the country over to buy obsolete military guns, with which we proceed to terrorize countless paper targets, helpless skeets, hapless golfballs, 2 liter bottles of water and other sundry objects.

Oh wow! Bonus evil! The SKS's new home:


Those thuds you hear are gun-fearing wimps passing out.