Archive for May, 2003

May 30, 2003

51 Strong

The RTB welcomes the following:

Frank Cagle – He’s got a radio show. I think he worked someone named Hillary err Hilleary.

Another Barry – He’s an entertaining chap. He adds some levity to the fanatical left.

Fletch – Of the Smoky Mountain Journal, who may be in Atlanta, we don’t know.

The Alpha Patriot. He’s a gun guy too. Which makes him OK by me. Now, if he’d lose that Kimber and get a real sidearm. And the correct answer to the Best Home Defense gun is AR15 or a handgun, preferably a 45.

Lastly, is Resonance. Another blogging lawyer from Knoxville.

Taxing a right is illegal

From Publicola:

Mark possessed machine guns assembled from kits and was arrested for violating the 1934 NFA, which specifies that machine gun ownership requires paying a special tax. Publicola thinks that Mr. Lancaster’s case could be used to overturn the 1934 NFA. I’m no lawyer, but it seems Publicola makes a strong case so, as they say, read the whole thing.

Here’s the Free Mark Lancaster site.

Sumbitch

The internet tax plan has passed both houses. Nevermind that the Supreme Court has said (twice) that businesses aren’t required to collect taxes for a state unless the business has a presence in the state. I love how the local news rags have spun this as 1) a plan to streamline taxes, 2) a benefit for people who actually have a store presence, and 3) that the lack of a tax on internet sales is actually a loss for the state. And the biggest spin of all is that of the amount of money they lose because there is currently no tax on internet sales. Our legislators are either lying or are ignorant, either is bad.

Took a while

But it looks like Tennessee now will have a tax on people who can’t do math.

May 29, 2003

Stop Breed Specific Legislation

I suppose it’s America’s nature, but after a bad thing happens, our politicians like to appear to be doing something. Like firearms, dogs can hurt people. Particularly, dogs with irresponsible owners. Apparently, a growing number of politicians have decided that it’s particular breeds of dogs and they propose banning ownership of these dogs through breed specific legislation (BSL). I guess these are assault dogs. These assault dogs are mostly pit bulls. Pit bull is misleading because there really is not a breed of dog known as the pit bull (thought the American Pit Bull Terrier is often what is referred to as a pit bull), rather pit bulls are a class of dogs with similar characteristics. Typically, a pit bull type dog has a large, wide head; is muscular; and is descended from various breeds of English fighting dogs. Banning a breed based on appearances sounds remarkably like some other pointless appearance based legislation. In fact, here’s a quiz: Can you spot the pit bull? No cheating!

There are many problems with BSL:

* It is an unnecessary infringement on people’s rights to choose animal companions.
* Wholesale BSL would lead to the extinction of certain breeds.
* There is no scientific way to determine what breed a particular dog is, so the criteria are appearances. If your dog looks like it might be a pit bull, you’ve broken the law.
* If a breed is banned because it is commonly used in illegal activities (guarding drug stashes, dog fighting, baiting, etc.), another breed will be chosen and eventually all dogs would be banned. Of course, criminals aren’t known to obey laws.
* Humans are ultimately responsible for their pets’ behavior. I promise, I could take a toy poodle and, through neglect and improper socialization and training, turn it into the absolute meanest dog on the planet. Or a golden retriever or any other dog. By that same token, I can take any dog as a puppy and make it a loveable household pet.
* Dogs used by the police are not banned by BSL (sound familiar?)
* The legislation makes criminals out of ordinary pet owners.

States with BSL:

Kalifornia, Delaware, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, hell err New Jersey, NC, NH, Ohio, RI, Washington (state and DC).

List of Various Banned Breeds:

Akita
Akita Inu
Alpahoola Blue Blood
American Bulldog
American Pit Bull Terrier
American Staffordshire Terrier
Bandogge
Boston Terrier
Boxer
Bull Terrier
Canary Dog
Chinese Shar Pei
Chow Chow
Doberman
Dogo Argentino
Dogue De Bordeaux
English Bulldog
Fila Brasiliero
French Bulldog
German Shepherd
Irish Staffordshire Terrier
Neapoliton Mastiff
Old Country Bulldog
Presa Canario
Rottweiler
Siberian Husky
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Tosa Inu
Wolfdog
any dog that appears to be a mix of these

Some more links dedicated to stopping BSL:

H4AB
Dogs At Risk
For Pits Sake
Pit Bull Rescue Central

Banning breeds is a pointless exercise that infringes on our liberties and is harmful to dogs (In Detroit, dogs found that appear to be of the banned breeds are immediately euthanized). In addition, it contributes to the climate of fear that our politicians are dependent upon. And it gives dog owners a bad name. Like gun laws, enforcing existing dog laws would be an adequate solution. Educating dog owners about how to raise their dogs would be beneficial too. But like gun laws, the solution taken is the expansion government encroachment.

Educate don’t legislate!

Note to Self

Self, don’t watch the Discovery Channel show about army ants before going to bed. You wake up itchy.

Big Fat Howdy!

But first, Sugarfused has moved. Welcome to Les Jones and Busy Mom, the latest members of the Rocky Top Brigade.

This brings us to 45 strong, the machine rolls on.

More ETax (again)

In our state’s desperate attempt to pilfer from err tax citizens more, our legislators hurry Internet tax plan.

Tennessee is poised to join an elite group of states planning to simplify their tax codes and become part of a governing body that would create a national standard for collecting taxes on Internet and mail-order sales.

Legislation moved swiftly and unexpectedly through various state House and Senate committees yesterday. It is part of a national effort to persuade Congress to allow the states to impose such a tax. The full House and Senate are scheduled to take up the measure today.

State officials estimate Tennessee will lose $300 million this year in uncollected sales tax revenue because of Internet and catalog sales. That figure could balloon to $1 billion by 2007, said Sen. Bill Clabough, R-Maryville, the bill’s sponsor

First, as Bill Hobbs has pointed out numerous times, online sales-tax losses are overstated.

Also, note to Mr. Clabough, there will be no loss because the money hasn’t been earned yet. Stop trying to spin this as a loss, it’s just poor revenue projections. I can’t say my business will make a particular amount and then when it doesn’t say that it’s a loss.

Update: Bill Hobbs also reports that because the Supreme Court has ruled that states may not impose online sales taxes (or any other tax) across state lines unless the seller has a physical presence or “nexus” in the state, the legislators have their work cut out for them. Hobbs is currently bloggered, scroll down to Whackamole Redux.

Yeah, right

Abbas Says Militants May Cease Attacks. Problem is, the members of Hamas are lying, murderous bastards who can’t be trusted to keep their word. Color me skeptical.

Clinton in 2008?

It’s not gonna happen but I bet he wants it real bad.

May 28, 2003

Media Gun Ignorance Alert

Mariel Garza of DailyNews, discussing LA’s attempts to ban .50 calibers, writes:

– .50-caliber rifles, sometimes called sniper rifles, and .50-caliber handguns, which can pierce body armor and hit targets from as much as a mile away.

In combination with CNN’s recent incident about the differences between assault weapons and other weapons, automatic weapons vs. semiautomatic weapons (no links because hostingmatters is down), people should realize that journalists don’t know much about guns. If you’re going to write about something, at least take the time to learn about it.

First, a sniper rifle is a rifle that has long range capabilities and is typically used by stealthy individuals to eliminate a target. Most sniper rifles are actually .30 Caliber, not .50 caliber (as if .2 inches is really that much bigger). Plus, .50 caliber rifles are huge and weigh a great deal. This makes them none too stealthy. The media of course labeled the Bushmaster (a .22 caliber) a sniper rifle during the DC shootings.

Second, I’m not absolutely certain, but I don’t think a .50 caliber hand gun cartridge would pierce body armor. The .50 handgun cartridge may project a bullet a mile, but not with any accuracy. In fact, handguns are typically only effective up to about 25 yards (and that’s if you’re a decent shot), most firefights involving handguns occur at less than seven yards. Also, the .50 caliber handgun cartridge isn’t new. Israeli Industries has made one since the early 90s (the Desert Eagle). The S&W and the DE have price tags of about $1,000 (usually more) so I doubt any criminals will use them, unless stolen.

At the end of the article, it is noted that .50 caliber rounds have never been used in crime.

The ignorant media keeps the public ignorant. Mariel Garza, you need to do some research.

Think you’re free? Try flying

On our recent trip, me and the Mrs. made it out of the US pretty quickly and without incident. Coming back in was a problem. We land at the Atlanta airport. And stand in line at Immigration. From that line, we are merely directed to another line (much like cattle) labeled US Residents. Mind you, there is a special (i.e., shorter and quicker) line for diplomats, VIPs, and disabled persons. Yeah, we’re equal.

Got through the line then off to Customs, where we declared nothing since we had less than $1,600 in purchases. At customs, if you happen to be walking through the gate and the green light turns red (supposedly at random) you are subjected to an unwarranted search and potential seizure. And if the Labrador gets excited while you’re walking through, you get to sit through an unwarranted search as well. The light stayed green for us so no search and the pup didn’t flinch.

From Customs, it was to the security line. I wondered why I was in the security line since I was not flying any where else. I just wanted to leave the airport. I go through the security checkpoint where I: Empty my pockets, place the contents in a tray, slide the tray and carry on through the cancer-causing device (even though I’m not flying anywhere at this point). I also have to take my shoes off (the buckles are metal) and send them through. I get to the other side, retrieve my shoes and begin to place them on my feet. Apparently, even though I took my shoes off at their request, the expect me to keep moving through the airport sans shoes. Not me, that floor is dirty. I stopped to put my shoes on. While doing so, some power-hungry, low-level federal-employee-with-something-to-prove told me that I had to keep moving. I informed her that I would resume moving when I got my shoes on and that if they didn’t want the area congested they should maybe reconsider this making people take off their shoes thing. She got huffy and again told me to move, I then very slowly and deliberately looked behind me to illustrate to the power-hungry, low-level federal-employee-with-something-to-prove that I was fully aware that absolutely nobody was behind me (because the cancer-causing machine appeared to be malfunctioning) and continued putting on my shoes. With my shoes on, we caught the train to the baggage return. Total time needlessly wasted at the airport: one hour and 30 minutes.

I understand the need for securing airports, but it could be done more efficiently and effectively. It could also be done much more conveniently and by friendly people and not power-hungry, low-level federal-employees-with-something-to-prove.

Google buys blogger then Google screws blogger

Google will filter out blog noise from its searches. Thanks to Rodger for the heads up!

Just like daddy!

Norinco (a Chinese importer of rifles, notably the SKS) was selling weapons to Iran. As such, Bush has said the Norinco can’t import into the US now. Back in the early 90s, Bush Sr. banned Norinco from importing the SKS. The SKS is a rifle that is similar to an AK47 but comes standard with a fixed magazine. This rifles (in the early 90s) could be bought for $59 each, in bulk. Now, the prices are much higher. Ban a weapon, it just gets expensive.

Almost forgot

Holy crap! Did you see that?

Attention Slackers

Ever wondered how to use technology to make it seem like you’re working when you’re not? Look no further!

This is not news!

Apparently, the federal instant background check system (the one used for gun purchases) doesn’t reference terrorist databases. The conclusion of some polticos is that terrorists can easily purchase assault weapons in the US. This is ludicrous because, as we all know, assault weapons have been banned since 1994 and the law works, right?

But seriously, you think terrorists walk into a gun shop and buy weapons? I doubt it.

May 27, 2003

Jebus!

Apparently, I’ve named a blog! Where’s my prize money?

Technical Announcement

You may notice I’m having issues with links (in that some are gone), it is not intentional. I was trying to edit the page and noticed that the blogger template that I download to edit is not the same as the one the site actually shows when you come to the page and I have no idea why. And blogger has been particularly slow these days. Anyone got a crash course in Moveable Type? It may be time for a switch.

I want my Tivo

Imagine: You get pulled over by a policeman for not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign. The officer informs you that you’ve broken the letter of the law and will be issued a ticket, will have to appear in court, and pay some money. You inform the officer that you obeyed the spirit of the law, because you looked in all directions and were absolutely certain that nothing was coming and that by pulling out you endangered nobody, even though your car did not completely stop. Do you think our fair officer or your judge will buy your argument? The answer is Hell no they won’t!

This is exactly the same as my complaint about SB 213 and HB 457, which has been the hot topic of debate among the RTB. Barry has an excellent summary here.

I support the spirit of this law in that it is designed to protect intellectual property but the letter of this law is akin to using a double-barreled shotgun as a flyswatter. It’s too much and grants too much authority to the government and (only slightly worse) corporations.

Apparently, the bill is dead now but I was on vacation when it was sweeping the Blogosphere.

Regarding the bill’s coverage by the press and the Blogosphere, Bill Hobbs says: . . . I didn’t realize I had blogged on it 23 times since March 31. . . Meanwhile, The Tennessean wrote about it twice.

Bill Hobbs concludes:

Is blogging journalism? No. It’s better.

Werd!

May not be the GOBs

Bubba links to a story about a local city council candidate who is dropping out of the race because he received threats. I know a few people involved in local politics and discovered that in recent polling, Mr. Jarvis came in dead last. The speculation running around is that Mr. Jarvis didn’t receive any threats but dropped out to save face.

Knock, Knock, Who’s there?

The police raid the wrong house and caused the 57 year-old woman who lives there to have a heart attack. Oh, did I mention that the reason no-knock warrants are legal is due to modern plumbing? Since small amounts of drugs can be flushed in the time it takes to knock on your door, courts decided it’s perfectly fine for police to not knock before entering your house with a warrant. Another casualty lost to the war on civil liberties err drugs.

Jesus is coming, look busy!

I saw the above on a bumper sticker and wanted to write it down for posterity’s sake. It’s funny.

May 26, 2003

Watch out, Big Media!

Hey, I’m in the paper!

Hola

The Mrs. and I have returned from Mexico. A couple of notes on the trip:

The beaches on the Mayan Riviera are beautiful.

The food was amazing and at the resorts your water is bottled so you don’t have to worry about the trots.

The first two days, we sat around the beach and pool consuming many drinks. On day three, we went scuba diving at the world’s second largest reef, which was a blast. The Mrs. hated that whole breathing through a tube thing so odds are she won’t be doing that again.

We went shopping in Cozumel. Shopping in Mexico is interesting. The vendors know that you won’t pay the price they ask for and you know that you’ll typically get a 50% (often more discount) from the asking price. They’d make more sales if they just told you upfront what minimum price they want for an item. I saw (and I’m not making this up) a guy attempting to purchase some sort of polished stone bracelet for his wife. He asks the vendor how much? The vendor says $150. The guy says $25. The vendor responds with $55 (yes, $95 off the bat). This went on until the American gets the vendor to $28. The American still walked away.

As you walk through the market area in Cozumel, all the shop owners want you in their shop. My Spanish is rusty, but it usually goes like this: You walk past a shop and the shop owner says Senor y pretty lady, co’ look eeside which translates roughly as Excuse me, but I can’t help notice that you currently are not involved in purchasing any useless crap. Perhaps you would like to peruse my vast selection of useless crap. There are several responses that you, the shopper, can make:

1 – Ignore the request, which doesn’t work because they’ll think you’re hard of hearing and then come stand in front of you pointing at their store. At which point you have a few more options.

2 – Say Gracias, no which, judging by their reaction, translates roughly as Why don’t you insert some of that useless crap into an orifice of your choosing!

3 – Say No dinero which doesn’t go over really well because they never believe you and point you to their credit card machine.

4 – Tell them to insert some of their useless crap into an orifice of their choosing, which they don’t understand or they’re just being polite.

5 – Enter the shop.

If you enter the shop, you are treated to a wide variety of stuff, such as: all things related to marijuana (pipes, bongs, you name it); T-Shirts with clever slogans like One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor or Let’s 68 – You do me and I’ll owe you one; Cuban cigars (a lot of which are fake); Jewelry (mostly fake); Liquor (not fake, but usually cheap); and blankets.

Me and the Mrs. also toured some Mayan ruins, which was interesting. I decided that anthropologists had too much time on their hands because when the guide told us that a pyramid that served as a watchtower had really tall steps (compared to a temple which had shallow steps) that it was to force people to bow (by bending to climb the steps) out of respect to the gods. Wouldn’t they do that at the temple? I concluded that the steps were tall for ease of defense since you don’t want any invaders taking over your watchtowers, you make it hard to climb. The Mrs. informed me that my hypothesis probably wouldn’t get me a several thousand dollar grant and the off the wall theories would. The ruins were amazing: Steep steps, tall structures, and thousands of years old. We got to climb a couple temples which was quite a task and took some amazing pictures. Apparently, the Mayans just abandoned their cities one day, so the anthropologist told us. They had many theories as to why. After my tour, I had my own theory: The Mayans had a class system (anthropology man told us) and the workers were treated like crap (and kept uneducated). I concluded they revolted and killed the priests and upper classes. However, they also killed everyone who knew how to write. So, I think they were still there for a while after that but couldn’t write dates on stones (like the upper classes did). After our archaeology and anthropology lessons, we toured an existing Mayan village. I really expected Sally Struthers to appear as the conditions were squalid. The guide told us that they weren’t poor, but lived differently than us. I’m here to tell you, they were poor. Some of them had satellite TV though.

On our departure date, our flight was canceled (after waiting around for six hours) but our airline put us up in an amazing resort with free drink and food. Then the next day, we were to fly out at 10:00. We left closer to 1:00 because (and again, I am not making this up) the incoming flight actually turned around to pick up 40 people who were late to their flight to Cancun. You can check out anytime you like but you can never leave.

The news that I read in Mexico that leapt out at me (followed by a brief analysis) was:

The EPA chick resigned (I’m sure Bubba is ecstatic) – Good!
The terror level went high – Bad!
Ari resigned (so much for the press getting the secretary it deserves) – Ugly!

So, I’m back. I’m tan, rested, ready, and have muy blog reading to do. Then it’s back to your regularly scheduled meanderings.

May 16, 2003

Cubans, Mayan Ruins, and all I can drink

This weekend, me and the Mrs. take off for vacation to the Mayan Riviera, where we’ll do tourist stuff while drinking all the watered-down beverages available. Get to check out the Mayan Ruins, smuggle back some Cuban err dominican cigars (for you customs folks out there: what do you mean they have no label?), scuba, maybe golf, lay around the beaches, get a tan, wear stupid shirts, avoid buying fake Rolexes, talk a Mexican into selling me something for $5 that he originally listed at $50, and drink some more.

Me and Mrs. opted for one of those all inclusive deals (airfare, food, drink, activities, and lodging included). Those poor folks, they don’t realize how much I can drink, especially if I’m not driving anywhere.

Blogging may be light depending on the internet situation there, I’m sure they’ll have a pay machine or something.

Gun Data

I report, you decide. Per this article:

According to the U.S. Crime Index for the year 2001, America’s weapons of choice in the commission of violent crimes were (percentage-wise) included:

Personal weapons: Hands, Fists, & Feet – used in 31.1% of violent crime

Golf clubs, Hammers and baseball bats: 27.8%

Firearms: 26.2%

Knives/cutting instruments: 14.9%

we have a total of 73.8% of violent crimes being perpetrated using weapons OTHER THAN guns

What’s up, Rith

Cartoon characters Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck will be used in public service messages educating Cambodians about land mines, the State Department said Wednesday.

Now, I suppose we’ll have to send Cambodian children some television sets.

More AW Ban Stuff

The always excellent Publicola (his site is bloggered, scroll to House Speaker Dennis Hastert has opened the door to a vote on the assault weapons ban) tells of the Republican leadership actually contemplating bring the AW renewal up for a vote. Hastert is apparently seeking the counsel of Dubya regarding the ban renewal, which Dubya says he supports. Not smart Bush, you will lose votes over this AW issue, one of which will be mine.

I hope there’s a counter suit

The NAACP had to be told by a jury that people are responsible for gun violence, not the gun industry. Another case of minority leadership blaming the woes of its people on anything but what is really the cause.