Archive for November, 2004

November 30, 2004

Recycling TVs

Apparently so many people are running out to get flat panel televisions that folks are expecting a huge amount of old television sets to be turning up at land fills (where I live now, I just put old stuff out at the street and it vanishes within an hour).

What I don’t understand is why so many people are buying flat-panel televisions instead of projectors. The picture on most flat-panel sets is less-than-desirable. A thin TV with a bad picture is not worth $3000, to me anyway. Especially when, for the same money, you can have a little bitty projector beaming a 100″ cinema-quality picture onto your wall.

We’re moving into a house with a 25×19 living room and an 18×25 rec room. Any of those flat panel TVs, and indeed our 47″ HD rear projection TV, will vanish in a room that size. Are we going to be more inclined to get this or this for the same price? Up to 133″ of picture or just 32″?

So what is it about the flat-panel TVs? Just that they’re cool? I don’t get it, but then again, I don’t own one either. Of course, with a projector I’ll have to buy a screen and deal with bulb maintenance and can’t get it smaller than about 50″. Maybe that’s a reason to get a flat-panel TV…a small one, not a large one.

Woo!

I’ve been in la-la land the last week or so. Nope, not endlessly commanding the virtual bartender to jiggle, but stressing over this house closing process. Well, today after signing 10 million pieces of paper, it’s finally ours! Yay! And, we almost have a buyer for our old house, meaning we may not have to rent it out.

Now to bait the kitchen with scotch and rum to get people over to help paint. Heh…

I don’t even know what’s going on in the news anymore. Something about Ukraine I think. And perhaps some new Bush appointees?

If you’re in the market for a good retro Christmas album, pick up Chris Isaak’s new CD. I think that about catches me up to this week!

Kinder, gentler animal control

In response to the recent shootings of dogs and bad press, Midstate police are learning non-deadly methods of dealing with vicious dogs:

More than two dozen police and animal-control officers from throughout Middle Tennessee — including 10 officers from Hendersonville, where the most recent dog shooting occurred — were scheduled to attend.

”I don’t want to second-guess any police officer, but if you can avoid an encounter where you have to shoot somebody’s pet, that’s a good thing,” said Sgt. Ty Wilson of the White House, Tenn., Police Department, one of five officers from that department at the training. ”We’re duty-bound to protect the public from vicious dogs, and we need any help we can get on how to defuse that kind of encounter.”

In addition to learning to deal with vicious dogs, Wilson said his department hopes to avoid the ”media blast” surrounding the Cookeville dog shooting in January 2003 and the dog shooting in Hendersonville last month.

Good idea. However, sometimes shooting a vicious dog is unavoidable. It happens. But in the case of the Cookeville dog shooting, they could just hire less trigger-happy police.

Medical Marijuana

As you may know, there’s a case at the Supreme Court (being argued by Randy Barnett of the Volokh Conspiracy) arguing whether Federal Law trumps state law and how much power Congress actually has due to the commerce clause (after all every fucking thing is commerce, right? Just ask Congress). More importantly, this case could set a standard in the war on civil liberties err some drugs err drugs.

Drug War Rant, a blog you should be reading, is on the case.

Update: The Times has more.

Today’s must read

Confederate Yankee on the second amendment and assault weapons.

Weekly check on the bias

Jeff has the latest.

Chai Vang Update

Chai Vang has had charges brought against him:

A Laotian immigrant accused of shooting several hunters in Wisconsin was charged with six counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder on Monday, authorities said.

Today’s idiot

Shirley Conley is a complete lunatic:

Regarding the shooting deaths of the hunters in Wisconsin, it should come as no surprise to anyone that a person capable of killing Bambi and other defenseless animals with assault weapons would turn on humans as well.

Call it “collateral damage” from our wonderful congressional leaders who refused to renew the assault weapons ban. Perhaps now, the surviving members of the hunting party will know how it must feel for the poor animals!

Good question

GOA:

As Media Focuses on Wisconsin shooting, GOA Asks: “Why not report on the 4,000 self-defense uses of guns that same day?”

For a running list of media reported self defense shootings, go here, or here, or here.

Guess what

Did you know that criminals don’t obey gun laws? Well, you do now:

Justice Department Study Shows 79 Percent of Criminals Obtained Firearms From Illegal Sources

Ninety-five percent of US police commanders and sheriffs believe most criminals obtain their firearms from illegal sources, according to a survey released by the National Association of Chiefs of Police. Coincidentally, data released by the US Department of Justice appears to confirm this claim by our nation’s police executives. The DOJ study refutes the conventional wisdom that guns used in criminal acts are purchased at retail stores or gun shows.

About 18 percent of state prisoners and 15 percent of federal prisoners reported that they were armed when they committed the offense for which they were imprisoned, according to the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics.

In the interviews, an estimated 9 percent of state prisoners and 2 percent of federal prisoners reported that they fired their weapon during the commission of the crime

[snip]

Among those who carried a firearm during the offense for which they were sent to prison, about 8 percent of the state and federal prisoners carried a military-style, semiautomatic weapon. These firearms included the UZI, Tec-9, and MAC-10 handguns, the AR-15, and AK-47 rifles and the “StreetSweeper” shotguns. Possession of these models which meet certain criteria as contained in the Federal statute can be unlawful. The firearm most favored by the inmates was a handgun, which was carried by more than 80 percent of the armed inmates.

I thought assault weapons were the weapon of choice among criminals? But what about that evil gun show loophole? Glad you asked:

Purchased from a retail store 8.3%
Purchased at a pawn shop 3.8%
Purchased at a flea market 1.0%
Purchased at a gun show 0.7%
Obtained from friends or family 39.6%
Obtained on the street/illegal source 39.2%

Big Brother At School

The NYT:

A proposal by the federal government to create a vast new database of enrollment records on all college and university students is raising concerns that the move will erode the privacy rights of students.

Until now, universities have provided individual student information to the federal government only in connection with federally financed student aid. Otherwise, colleges and universities submit information about overall enrollment, graduation, prices and financial aid without identifying particular students.

For the first time, however, colleges and universities would have to give the government data on all students individually, whether or not they received financial assistance, with their Social Security numbers.

They want this so that they can track performance and education statistics. I see no need for the government to track this kind of data other than at a non-specific level. Tracking this sort of info has that creepy big brother feel to it.

Immediate confiscation

PG Politics notes that the Prince George’s County is proposing an amendment to the Maryland Constitution to authorize the County Council of Prince George’s County to provide for the immediate taking of private property situated in Prince George’s County under certain circumstances. The purpose, of course, is for economic development so they are authorizing taking land to give to private developers.

November 29, 2004

Little help

My top referrer this month is this site: http://12.163.72.13. I try to go there and get nothing. I try to look up the IP and get nothing. Anyone have a clue?

Kenneth Walker Update

Chuck has the latest news on the shooting death of Kenneth Walker. Kenneth Walker was shot twice in the back by a police officer with an H&K MP5 as he lay on the ground. The officer claims he tripped and fired accidentally.

Update: Chuck tells me to note Mr. Walker was shot in the head. I meant in the back in the figurative sense as we was face down on the ground.

Mr. Blasty Accessory Poll Update

Got some good responses to the poll. Marc recommended the Trijicon Reflex, which I had read was problematic in low light since it is fiber optic and requires no batteries. I ordered the EOTech this weekend. We’ll see how it works.

On PR and terminology

Publicola goes down the list of anti-gun buzzwords. He forgot to add regular capacity to his list of terms.

Heh!

Assault Weapon Watch.

Via Robert Douglas, who is also shipping magazines to our troops since the government issued mags apparently suck. Good thing the ban expired since our troops likely prefer regular capacity magazines for their M9s.

The greatest battle implement ever devised

Kevin bought one and details the rifle. Pretty neat since you can get one shipped to your door by the government.

All this talk about SKS rifles

Here’s some pics of a pretty tricked out looking one.

Assault weapons ban round up – SKS and Chai Vang edition

Local reporter Bob Hodge writes that the SKS is not an assault rifle:

“By the literal definition of an assault weapon an SKS is not covered because it doesn’t have the function of being fully automatic,” said Ryan Patrick, one of the co-owners of Guns & More on Kingston Pike. “It wasn’t covered by the 1994 assault weapon legislation, that was very carefully called the semiautomatic assault weapons ban, either. It doesn’t have a detachable magazine or a pistol grip.”

Another article states that the SKS is not rare! Chai Vang apparently didn’t use an SKS but rather a Saiga, which is also not an assault weapon. Head has also confirmed for me that early model Saigas did in fact have an H prefix on their serial numbers. It’s looking like the SKS was not the rifle used in this incident.

Judging from the comments section of this post and the recent spike in traffic for folks Googling up Chai Vang, people are definitely interested in Mr. Vang.

I was going to address the absolute stupidity of this hysterical piece on why semi-automatics apparently aren’t just normal guns but this guy already did.

The NRA will be pushing the gun immunity bill since they view the new congress makeup as favorable.

Stephen Young proves he doesn’t know much about gun laws:

Take any major American city — Chicago, New York, Detroit, Philadelphia — and statistics reveal that annually, more people get killed by handguns in any one of these cities than all of Europe combined. Why is that?

Two of those cities also have the most restrictive handguns laws in the nation so the contention that you’re about to make that regarding restricting access to guns is going to stop that is asinine.

American gun laws are the byproduct of a lobbying machine called the National Rifle Association. The gun control movement has accomplished a few minor victories, but the vast majority of modern American gun law is the work of the NRA. Compare their results to the rest of the world and you’d have to say their work is a failure. American kids are 20-plus times more likely to die of gun violence than European, Japanese, Canadian or Australian children.

Foreign governments keep guns off their streets. They don’t allow gun industry lobbyists to write their firearms laws. The safety of their citizens comes first.

Given that Canada, Australia and many countries in Europe have higher crime rates than the US, that contention doesn’t hold water. Also, the NRA hasn’t written the gun laws in this country as it has a tendency to oppose them so that claim is false as well.

On Irony

The PLO advocates gun control:

PALESTINIAN security forces should be the only group in the occupied territories allowed to carry weapons, Palestine Liberation Organisation chairman Mahmud Abbas said today.

“We want to control the Palestinian security scene so that we end the phenomenon of arms being carried around everywhere. This is the policy of the Palestinian government,” he said.

Insert your own commentary, I got nothing.

Just taking the company

John D. Crosier notes that the city of Nashua is abusing the Hell out of eminent domain:

FOR MORE than two years, the city of Nashua and Pennichuck Corp. have been at odds over the city’s professed intention to acquire the company by eminent domain.

Yes, the city just wants to take over operations of a private company. So far, the company has spent $2M defending itself and its investors are getting shaky. John D. Crosier nails it:

The city is not only attempting to take the company’s water works inside the boundaries of Nashua, but also is laying claim to Pennichuck subsidiaries that provide water service outside of Nashua through systems that are entirely unconnected to the one serving the city. The power of eminent domain is not being used for any overriding public benefit, but to block a legitimate business decision made by Pennichuck’s board of directors to merge with another company. City leaders have essentially admitted as much.

Such abuses are an egregious violation of property rights and an indicator of state as nanny going way too far.

Gun lawsuit follow up

After the Illinois Supreme Court dismissed the frivolous and baseless lawsuits alleging that the gun industry makes it easy for criminals to get guns, the accusers in the case are up to plan B:

He and other families hit by gun violence sued in an attempt to force gunmakers and sellers to be more socially responsible. But on Nov. 18, the Illinois Supreme Court dismissed their lawsuit and another brought by the city of Chicago accusing the firearms industry of knowingly allowing criminals to get hold of guns. (sic)

Young still believes someone will find a way to hold those who make and sell firearms responsible for gun violence, whether it’s the legislature, Congress or the courts somewhere else.

“I think we are seeding the future,” he said. “We will get some sanity in gun policies.”

I think a good start for sanity in gun policies would be to stop harassing through the court system makers of a legal product that is not defective. Continuing:

There also are some avenues suggested by the Supreme Court justices themselves.

Though the court dismissed both lawsuits unanimously, saying there was no legal basis in the lawsuits for holding the manufacturers responsible, five of the seven justices issued a separate opinion in which they urged the legislature to “turn its attention to the problems” alleged in the cases.

The court is advocating exactly what? The article mentions undercover police buying guns from gun dealers in the suburbs after making it clear they were engaging in a straw purchase. My suggestion is, of course, to prosecute those dealers. Mayor Daley is also pursuing additional actions.

Kelo v. New London and other ED abuse

Here’s an article that looks at another case of Eminent Domain abuse cases headed to the Supreme Court. It also addresses the problem:

Court rulings have stretched the definition of “public use,” adding urban blight and job creation to the original goals of acquiring land for highways, public schools, and the like. Ohio law says eminent domain in the name of economic development cannot be used solely to expand the tax base. It must create jobs and the positive effect must happen in a reasonable amount of time.

Some examples:

Among the most egregious examples of abuse of eminent domain, the institute and other critics say, occurred in Lakewood, Ohio, where the city council deemed a neighborhood of 200 homes to be “urban blight” to make way for a condominium and retail development with a movie theater.

In Mesa, Ariz., the city wants to remove Randy Bailey’s Brake Repair Shop to make way for a larger, more valuable Ace Hardware store.

In New London, the city has condemned private homes on a 90-acre tract to make way for a waterfront hotel and conference center, and mixed-use development of offices and residential units. The project is designed to build upon pharmaceutical goliath Pfizer’s decision to open a research facility in the area.

The Connecticut Supreme Court said New London had a valid public use, claiming the redevelopment would raise the tax base and create thousands of jobs. But an appeal to the highest court on behalf of seven property owners said they seek “to stop the use of eminent domain to take away their most sacred and important of possessions: their homes.”

The fact is that using ED as an economic development tool tramples the property rights of others. Hopefully this Spring, the Supreme Court will rule that way. Given some of their horrendous rulings lately, I’m not feeling too good about it.

November 28, 2004

More on Chai Vang

Drew at Darn Floor has the most detailed account of the Wisconsin hunter shooting that I have seen. It includes Vang’s and others statements to the police.

As it stands, it would seem to me that he was taunted and even shot at. However, that action doesn’t warrant hunting down and shooting unarmed people in the back.

November 26, 2004

Post Turkey Day Gun Blogging

Mrs. Uncle is doing the shopping thing and yours truly is babysitting. Junior is sleeping and blogging will be light this weekend. Some gun stuff of note:

JoinTogether continues to dance in the blood of the dead:

The Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort extends their deepest sympathy to the families and victims of the horrifying and deadly shooting in Sawyer County, where a man used an SKS semi-automatic assault rifle to gun down five hunters and wound three others. This tragedy demonstrates the urgent need for an effective federal ban on military style assault weapons. But since President Bush and Congress allowed the federal assault weapons ban to expire in September of this year and seem disinterested in passing a new law, Wisconsin lawmakers should, in the meantime, pass a comprehensive statewide assault weapons ban. Reports suggested that the shooting occurred after an argument escalated when hunters found 36-year-old Chai Soua Vang using a tree stand belonging to someone else.

SKS military style, semi-automatic assault rifles, like the one used in yesterday’s tragic shooting, are the most common assault rifles used to kill law enforcement offices in the United States, according to the Violence Policy Center, a Washington, D.C. based think tank. In 2004, six law enforcement officers in the United States have been gunned down by shooters using SKS assault rifles.

It is pretty much confirmed by police reports that the weapon used was a Saiga 7.62. The weapon is not an SKS but is a sporterized based on the Kalashnikov that was not affected by the ban.

A push for more gun laws in PA:

Within hours after 16-year-old Jalil Speaks died of a bullet wound to the chest, politicians and children’s advocates looked for the cause, and many settled on guns.

There are too many, and they are too easy to get, they said.

What went unmentioned after the shooting Monday was that the gun laws in Philadelphia are the same as everywhere else in Pennsylvania.

But in Philadelphia, Speaks was the 14th person under age 18 to be killed by a gun this year, while elsewhere in the state such shootings are almost unheard of.

However, the author is not blaming only guns but rather the socioeconomic breakdown of Philly:

A key difference in Philadelphia is that much of its population is poor, and poverty has long been correlated with an increase in violence.

The city also has an entrenched drug trade, whose practitioners consider a weapon as integral to the business as the illegal drugs themselves.

While other towns may wrestle with similar issues, nowhere else in the state are these problems concentrated so greatly.

In Philadelphia, the drug trade has spawned a flourishing traffic in illegal guns that sprung up to bypass state and federal laws that prohibit felons from owning firearms.

“Kids can go on the corner and buy guns like they can buy drugs,” said Bilal Qayyum, cochairman of Men United for a Better Philadelphia, an antiviolence group.

“If there was serious gun control and if there were fewer guns on the street, more than half these deaths would not have happened,” Qayyum said.

Statewide, firearms dealers sold 147,719 handguns in 2003, a typical year’s business, according to Pennsylvania State Police data.

Criminals don’t obey gun laws.

November 25, 2004

Happy Turkey Day

The calm before the storm. In a few hours, tons of family will be here for Thanksgiving. It will be pretty hectic. I’ve been smoking a turkey since about 6:30 this morning. Should be pretty good.

Have a safe and happy holiday.

How dull

Man, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is absolutely boring. Anyone catch the Brook Shields lip sync, dance combo? Who writes and creates that nonsense? This parade is the most boring thing I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been in meetings with E&Y’s financial transaction advisory services and seen Cats!

November 24, 2004

Chai Vang’s weapon: Probably not an SKS after all

New info on Vang’s gun:

Vang was later apprehended by Wisconsin DNR Warden Jeremy Peery. Vang was still in possession of his hunting gear, including back tag and also his rifle. The rifle was a Saiga SKS 7.62×39 caliber, serial number HO-3104079

I don’t know that there is a Saiga SKS. There is the new Saiga brand of rifles offered by the European American Armory. The Saiga is a sporterized version of the Kalashnikov (the AK47) that would also not be covered by the assault weapons ban.

Update: Probably not an EAA as their serial numbers begin with EA. Anyone know who precedes their serial numbers with HO?

Stuff I’m thankful for

The early morning smiles from a little girl who just woke up

The naps on the couch with that same little girl

The greatest wife a man could ask for

That I live in the greatest country on Earth (it has its problems but there’s no other place I’d want to be)

Friends who provide good conversation and are there when I need them to be

Dogs peacefully sleeping at my feet

My wife’s apple pie

A wonderful family

Bread pudding with whiskey sauce

I have a comfortable life

My little girl’s bath time

The way my dog cocks his head to the right as though he really is trying to figure out what I’m saying

The men and women (past, present and future) who fought to make this nation great

My ability

Oreos and milk

My readers

God

Mom

Dad

Capitalism

The small of my wife’s back

Samuel Adams, brewer & patriot

My mother in law who loves to babysit

Poker night with the guys

Happy Thanksgiving, ya’ll