Archive for December, 2012

To the last gasp of Liberty…

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

Caught a YouTube video this morning which highlighted a protest in the UK regarding the banning of Fox Hunting, which included commentary from several residents regarding the crime rate in the UK since handguns were banned nationwide in 1997.  The overall feel of the video indicated a sharp rise in the level of crime which included commentary from an anonymous “Bobby” to reinforce the opinion.

I felt compelled to dig in to this a bit…

In 1997, the UK Parliament enacted 2 firearms amendments.  The first banned any handgun with a caliber greater than .22 (5.6mm).  The second banned the private possession of all handguns regardless of caliber.  You could still own antique or historic guns as long as the ammunition was no longer available, or if the ammunition WAS available – they had to be securely stored at a government owned and operated site.  You could still have a musket though, hoorah.

The amendments were passed in response to the Dunblane Massacre, where a 43 year old man walked in to the school with 4 handguns and murdered 16 children and one adult before turning the gun on himself.  Sound familiar?  The new laws went into full effect on Feburary 1st, 1998; two years after the Dunblane Massacre.

The Brits have a site set up, homeoffice.gov.uk, where overall statistics can be obtained.  In 1998, they changed the method of counting which “had the effect of increasing the number of crimes counted” and also made it so that the numbers of crimes committed “before and after [1998] are not directly comparable.

So the UK bans handguns, and then tweaks the numbers so that you can’t accurately compare the crime rate before and after the ban.  By looking at the raw data, it appears that under the “New Rules” specific crimes were re-categorized…

The primary category of “violent crime” had several changes made:

  • Under “violence against the person”:
    • “Other wounding, etc.” became “Less serious wounding.”
    • “Possession of weapons” was added.
    • “Harassment” was added.
    • “Racially or religiously aggravated less serious wounding” AKA hate crime was added.
    • “Racially or religiously aggravated harassment” AKA hate crime was added.
    • “Cruelty to and neglect of children” was added.
    • “Assault on a constable” was added.
    • “Common assault (includes some minor injury)” was added.
    • “Racially or religiously aggravated common assault” was added.
    • Under “sexual offenses”:
      • “Soliciting or importuning by a man” was added.
      • “Abuse of position of trust” was added.
      • “Other miscellaneous sexual offences”
      • In regard to “robbery”:
        • “Robbery of business property” was added.
        • “Robbery of personal property” was added.

Violent crime covers a wealth of offenses in the UK.  Under the old rules, the number of violent crimes committed in the UK for 1998 was 331,717.  Under the new rules, we see 615,995.  The biggest percentage increase that accounts for the jump are those crimes classified as “violence against the person” followed closely by “robbery” and lastly our personal favorite – “sexual offenses.”

Using the violent crime rate in 1998 under the “new numbers” as a baseline, we see the rate increase steadily.

  • 1998 – 502,788
  • 1999 – 581,034 (+13.5%)
  • 2000 – 600,922 (+16.4%)
  • 2001 – 650,330 (+22.7%)

The number of sex offenses?

  • 1998 – 46,372
  • 1999 – 47,185 (+1.4%)
  • 2000 – 45,878 (-1.1%)
  • 2001 – 49,581 (+6.5%)

How about robbery?

  • 1998 – 66,835
  • 1999 – 84,277 (+20.6%)
  • 2000 – 95,154 (+29.7%)
  • 2001 – 121,359 (+44.9%)

Overall violent crime?

  • 1998 – 615,995
  • 1999 – 712,496 (+13.5%)
  • 2000 – 741,954 (+16.9%)
  • 2001 – 821,270 (+24.9%)

The numbers here do not lie, and they tell the story of what will happen here in the US if all of the people begging for greater gun control get their way.  It should be noted that while over the past 9 years, the total number of violent crimes in the UK has been on the decline, recent numbers (again, using 1998 as a baseline) are still higher now than before the ban was enacted.

Violent crime: 2010 – 871,712 (+36.7%)

Sexual offenses: 2010 – 54,509 (+15%)

Robbery: 2010 – 75,101 (+11.1%)

Overall violent crime: 2010 – 1,001,332 (+38.5%)

The population of the UK in 1998 was 59.2 million.  In 2011 63.1 million.  It has grown approximately 6.2% in size since the ban was passed in 1998, while its violent crime rate has jumped by 38.5%.

I’d say that at least the UK doesn’t have to worry too much about shooting sprees, no more school children being slaughtered by the mentally ill toting assault weapons – that is until 2010 when a cab driver went postal with a double barreled shotgun and bolt action 22 rifle, killing 12 and injuring 11 before doing the world a favor and turning the gun on himself.

The population of the UK supported the ban in the hopes it would prevent another massacre.  Only now, when something as seemingly benign as a traditional fox hunt is threatened do they realize just how much they lost.

What happened in Newtown, Connecticut was a tragedy, but the truth is that violent crime in this country did not start with Newtown, or Columbine, or any of the other mass murders committed with a gun that received such widespread media attention.  Violent crime has existed since the dawn of mankind.  Drafting new laws which attempt to restrict the access to methods of causing violence ala gun control do nothing to decrease the overall levels of violent crime.  New gun control laws which only stand to restrict law abiding citizens from obtaining and using a firearm for legal purposes only affect law abiding citizens.  The criminals can still obtain any weapon they want.

These children weren’t murdered by assault weapons, they were murdered by a mentally ill bastard whose first victim, his mother, made the fatal mistake of owning guns and not properly securing them in the same place said bastard called home.

No ordinary American can legally own a fully automatic weapon.  No ordinary American can legally own a gun which holds more than a specific number of rounds in a clip.  The slippery slope to greater numbers of violent crimes starts with something benign.  Folding stocks, flash suppressors, etc…  don’t seem like a big deal right now.  Label a gun as an assault weapon so that the public will approve it.  Miscategorize a semi-automatic AR-15 as a “military grade assault weapon” so people will gladly ape the lie that “nobody needs a military weapon” when no ordinary law-abiding-citizen actually has a real “military grade assault weapon.”  Call for bans of semi-automatic weapons.  Call for bans of handguns.  Call for bans of rifles and shotguns.  The last call you make will be to the Police in a desperate hope that they will be able to outrun the bullets.

Many people don’t like guns, and I can sympathize.  Whether or not you like guns, you need to understand why we have the right to bear arms.  The primary reason we have guns in this country, and a right to own and use them, is to defend ourselves and our loved ones from any threat be it animal, criminal, or tyrannical.    That most guns are used for hunting or sport is just one of the perks for those who enjoy that right every single day.  The problem isn’t the gun, it is humanity, and until we stop blindly accepting the arguments from those who focus all their efforts on the trigger instead of the finger pulling it – violence will only grow and our freedoms will continue to fade.

The statistics prove it, time and again – when the people are armed and have access to the means to defend themselves, crime is low, and liberty abounds.  When the people are disarmed, crime is high and liberty is at stake.  Look past the emotion of 20 innocent children being murdered, look past the means employed to exact such a tragedy, and realize just who will have control over our lives and safety when we foolishly yield that control so that we can feel like we’ve done something to prevent the next crime from ever taking place.

Innocents die every single day in America, people of every race, color, and creed.  We look around and try to find someone or something to blame for the pain we see but never stop to see that these knee-jerk emotional reactions that our elected officials will gladly embrace in order to empower their own interests do nothing more than lead us as useful idiots, as sheep – to the slaughter of our safety, our security, and most importantly – our liberty.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before…

Wednesday, December 26th, 2012

Shortly after recovering from the mess that was “Superstorm Sandy” last month, I received a call from my housemate that there was a large puddle on the floor around the water heater.  It had been working fine after I replaced the malfunctioning “safety device” a year earlier.  The device consisted of a small vial of oil with a spring-loaded trap.  The way it worked is that if the temperature inside the combustion chamber below the water heater exceeded a certain threshold, the oil would heat up and expand, shattering the glass vial and closing off the air supply to the burner.  In my case, the heater was functioning fine but after so many heat/cool cycles the safety finally gave up.   I ended up getting a used replacement off Ebay, and for the longest time had no trouble.

Fast forward back to the week after Sandy, I get home and discover the big puddle of water on the floor, a blend of rust and other crap which was surrounding the heater.  I go online and try to find a new unit locally, Lowes has a model from the same manufacturer with the same specifications for about $550.  I wasn’t too thrilled about the expense, nor the added cost of buying the various tools and fittings required to complete the job.  Since  I’m not exactly rolling in wealth (despite being one of those despised top 10% of wage earners who voted for Romney) – I couldn’t afford to have a plumber do it so I set it up myself.  After about 2 days without hot water, once again we were able to wash dishes and ourselves.

Fast forward to this past weekend, I recently picked up one of those Shark steam mops which also had a detachable steamer and had been progressing through the various areas of the house to clean.  Part of doing a thorough job was taking everything off the shelves in my utility room, moving the shelves out, and steam cleaning the tile floor.  Well when it came time to empty the shelves by the water heater, I started pulling out the gallon jugs of water I keep on hand in case of emergency and come to realize that one of them was almost completely empty.  The cap was sealed, but under the jug there was a small puncture hole due to someone pushing the jug backwards in order to store something else on the shelf.  The jug must have leaked all over the floor… right next to the water heater.

Wait for it…

An idiot’s guide to “Right to Work”

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

The origin of the labor union concept was to enable “collective bargaining.”  This allowed a group of employees to negotiate with their employer over wages, benefits, etc…  It kept employers from doing things which would harm the lives or livelihood of its employees by protecting a right to stop working when an agreement between the parties couldn’t be made.

Now to get a job with an employer in a NON “right to work” state, if the employees are unionized, you MUST join the union.  You must join, and you must pay dues.  Here’s the kicker.  These unions collect enough dues, and they build power… Not so much power for the employees, that’s a given – but even greater power for the unions.  The unions can take those dues – and do things like purchase advertising time for a political candidate… or make donations to a political party.

It doesn’t matter what your personal political affiliation is, your money goes to the union, and the union leaders spend it how they see fit on whomever they decide to support – which in modern times generally leans towards the Democratic party.  You may not see that as a problem, but when you factor in union support for the Obama campaign in 2008 – and the so called stimulus funds which were used to secure union jobs across the fruited plain… even the most useful idiot should be able to see the pattern.

The other day in Michigan – you may have missed this if you don’t listen to alternate media or Fox News (or Faux News to so called free thinkers aka useful idiots) – a Fox News reporter made the mistake of asking one of the protestors why they are against “right to work.”  It started with a valid opinion that the people who choose not to join the labor union under the new law would be reaping the benefits obtained by years if not decades of union negotiations.  Then he proceeded to violently attack the reporter.  It was largely ignored or downplayed by the mainstream media… too bad they weren’t carrying Tea Party signs.

I personally agree with the concept of right to work.  Basically, it gives you the option – the freedom – to decide whether or not you want to join the labor union.  Neither the union or the employer can force you to join.  I also understand the criticisms of its opponents, that the rights and benefits enjoyed by an employee were built on the backs of union workers.  All that being said though, when unions become too big and too powerful – to the point that they receive millions upon millions of tax dollars to support its members while the rest of us are forced to suffer?  To use a Liberal phrase… “It’s time to level the playing field.”

The law reinforces freedom of association, it provides hard working Americans with more options, and the fine print is a bulwark to the flood of cash from unions to politicians that elevates their members by stepping on the rest of us.  Imagine if the stimulus money was actually spent to try and spur economic growth instead of simply prop up unions and campaign supporters so they could endure the economic downturn?  The possibilities are endless.

If you want to join the union, you can.  I don’t believe that this could hurt an honest labor union – it however will hurt the unions that wield their power in a way that puts the union’s needs above those of the workers which they represent to the detriment of the long term sustainability of the business as well as the country we call home.

PR Spells Victory for Big Government!

Friday, December 7th, 2012

Yesterday I linked to a story which pointed out that the new crop of Apple iMac’s were apparently made in the USA, and that Apple is planning to relocate and/or expand its manufacturing presence within the borders of the USSA.  I surmised that one of the possible explanations for why Apple would move back to a country with such high taxes and prohibitive regulations was due to the landslide of negative PR they received due to the publicity over conditions that exist at their manufacturing plants abroad.

Today I link to another story which reports that Darden Restaurants, who had initially planned on rolling back employee hours in order to avert the additional costs of the Affordable Care act – has apparently decided to scrap that plan because of the negative PR they received.  They also state that restaurants work better with full-time employees, but I digress.

So while we continue to see a slew of activity as businesses look for ways to minimize the damage done to their bottom line by new taxes, regulations, and the Affordable Care act – new stories come out where businesses are deciding to pay the PR tax which is a win for big government…for now.

It’s no secret that we need more jobs.  The new numbers came out today which show that the unemployment rate has dropped another .1% from 7.8% to 7.7% alongside data that shows the labor participation rate ALSO dropped from 63.8% to 63.6%.  So more people are employed, but less people are working because they dropped out of the work force.  Anyone touting the drop in unemployment as a GOOD thing is ignoring the obvious.  If you’re no longer looking for employment, you don’t count as unemployed!  The unemployment rate drop should be driven by job creation, not retirement!

I wouldn’t be surprised if over the coming months we see more stories from the mainstream media that focus negative PR on companies which have outsourced or that are making adjustments to their practices so they can survive despite the ridiculous costs associated with running a business in this country.  Sure, on the surface it means more jobs for Americans – but consumer spending isn’t going up.  Profits aren’t going up. Growth in our GDP is pretty much flat.  These companies are sacrificing profit in the face of negative PR, and for the short term it might instill some false hope and give the media as well as the Obama campaign (it’s not an administration, it’s a campaign, and has been since before 2008) talking points to illustrate that their policies are working.

In reality – less profit will translate to less expansion and less opportunity to invest in research and development, which will result in greater stagnation – not growth.

Personally, I’d rather live in shame than die to applause.  Increased tax revenue doesn’t matter if the money is spent before the ink dries.  No civilization has ever been taxed into prosperity, and no government as big and wasteful as ours can survive forever especially while trying to maintain the illusion of freedom and the American dream

There is no such thing as bad press, thank you Atheism!

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

Columbia restaurant gets OK to give discounts to patrons with church bulletins

Now I’ve got nothing against Atheists.  They don’t believe in any sort of God or organized religion, that’s fine by me.  What truly drives me up the wall though is when the portion of Atheists who are so inclined decide that they must impose their beliefs on others because – gasp – some people still choose to follow a religion!

In this case, a restaurant in PA has a web promotion where those who bring a current church bulletin to the restaurant would receive a discount on their Sunday purchase.  This group out of Wisconsin which has apparently pulled this crap on 30 other businesses already decided to accuse the restaurant of showing favoritism based on religion.

According to Google, there are over 20 different churches within a 1 mile radius of the restaurant – so there’s obviously a market for folks who go to church.  Should people who don’t have a bulletin get the same discount?  I don’t know.  Should people who don’t cut out the coupon from the weekly flyer for Musser’s Market still be able to buy a 48oz container of ice cream for $1.99?

Religion is only a touchy subject because folks like those behind the Freedom From Religion Foundation make it one.  I highly doubt that the folks at Prudhomme’s Lost Cajun Kitchen would deny the discount to someone who brought in a bulletin or similar document from a Jewish Temple, a Muslim Mosque, or any other “religious” source.  If they did, then I’d support anyone who is crying foul.  They shouldn’t have to reword the promotion unless free speech doesn’t apply in matters of religion anymore.  In 2005, the 7th circuit court in Wisconsin declared that Atheism was in fact a religion.  That said, couldn’t they print out a current newsletter or something?  Do they even have one?

The amount of coverage that this story is getting will undoubtedly drive even more customers into the restaurant and that’s the beauty of it.  The FFRF set out to meddle, and in actuality created a rallying point for folks who are sick of their crap.  My advice?  Every local business that wants more business on Sunday should start offering a similar discount.  It obviously works, and now they’ve got Atheists providing free advertising too!

Obama himself once declared residents of Pennsylvania as bitter people clinging to their guns and religion… So it shouldn’t be a surprise when a PA business comes up with with a promotion which caters to that very demographic.  I’m honestly tempted to head out that way over the weekend to try the place out and show my support.  I may even stop in at one of the local churches and grab that free coupon too!

Here’s to you, Atheism.  Your public stance on displays of religion and people of faith over the years has provided free advertising and priceless promotion of our nations many diverse religious creeds.  Thank you for reminding us all that we still matter enough to irritate you. 🙂

Instead of falling down the fiscal cliff, lets jump it instead!

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

I personally believe that the fiscal cliff was a calculated move from the start.  In 2010, Republicans regained control of the House of Representatives.  This put the writing on the wall that Obama could be facing a repeat of what took place in 1994 and forced former President Clinton to moderate his goals and realistically work with the other side of the aisle.  Obama is incapable of actual decision making or compromise.  He simply states a goal that he wishes to achieve and relies on those beneath him to do the dirty work.

Generally speaking, any time Obama says something in public which I actually agree with I can be sure that his actual intentions are the polar opposite…  Spending over the past 4 years has been an acceleration of the Bush era fiscal policies which in themselves jacked up our national debt significantly.  The problem is that the threat of Republicans neutralizing his own fiscal policies could not be ignored, so a plan was devised which would take advantage on the predictable gridlock that would occur between a Republican House and a Democrat Senate.

The first goal of this plan was to create the appearance of concern over spending and debt, thus a ‘super-committee’  was created with the task of creating a plan to reduce the deficit.  The fine print here was that should no agreement be reached, immediate across the board spending cuts would take place which would total about $1 Trillion over 10 years.

The second goal of this plan was to shift blame for the fallout to the Republicans.  Most fail to realize that the Republicans have only been in the majority in the House of Representatives since January of 2011.  For 2009 and 2010, the brunt of Obama’s fiscal policy had been enacted by the previous congress, so at best when the Republicans took the House in 2011 all they could do is attempt to stop further increases.  The die had already been cast with billions upon billions of so called “stimulus” spending and the passing of the Affordable Care Act.

The final goal was to disenfranchise supporters of the House Republicans by carefully guiding them into a no win situation. The Republicans do not want to increase taxes on anyone.  The Democrats do not want to cut spending or entitlements.  Should we hit the fiscal cliff, the media as well as the administration will immediately blame Republicans for putting the top 1% ahead of everyone else.  This will feed into the class warfare attack model used by the modern Left to redirect culpability to anyone but themselves.  Should we avoid the fiscal cliff but allow tax increases – any tax increases – the Republicans will be seen as weak by their supporters and I’m sure someone has calculated the effect this will have on the 2014 congressional election cycle.

I have absolutely no faith in elected Republicans to stand their ground here.  Generally, the establishment will play it safe (for themselves) and cave to the demands of the Democrats.  I would not be surprised if the plan is already drafted, and conspirators on both sides of the aisle are simply running down the clock in order to pass a plan at the last minute sometime before they recess early next week.  Personally I believe we should not only hit the cliff, but jump it.

Should the Republicans stand their ground and no compromise plan be made, everyone’s taxes will go up on January 1st as the Bush tax cuts expire.  Discretionary spending will be cut by $100 Billion dollars per year over 10 years.  That is the money spent by our Government that is not mandatory like Medicare – it requires Congressional approval.  The debt ceiling is going to increase dramatically (some articles I’ve read say upwards of $2 Trillion).  Now Obama is playing the long-con here.  His goal is to both increase spending for entitlements as necessary to support the millions of Americans who either actually need them, have earned them as a result of retirement or military service, or have become reliant on them due to the piss poor economy and its effect on the job market – as well as increase “revenue” by increasing taxes on anyone earning over $250k per year to the tune of $1.6 Trillion dollars.

By pushing us to the fiscal cliff and returning tax rates to where they stood during the Clinton administration, there will be an immediate bump in revenue as all taxpayers are forced to pay more… however higher taxes never generate higher long term revenue.  The wealthy (who contrary to popular opinion are not all Republicans) will find new ways to shield their income from taxes, and more businesses will quickly run for the borders with the yapping dogs of higher tax rates and the Affordable Care Act nipping at their heels.  The unemployment rate will skyrocket along with entitlement spending to soften the blow for the unemployed and working poor while enabling greater dependency on those entitlements.  All of this considered, the suffering endured – if played correctly by the Republicans – could yield majority control of Congress and quite possibly de-fang Obama’s agenda…albeit many years too late.

All things considered, if we hope for any real change to fiscal policy in this country that stands to improve the economy and persona liberty – it will only be done by embracing Conservative ideals and supporting politicians who espouse those principals.  Not only will the next generation of Conservative leaders have to overcome a massive media machine hell bent on supporting the status quo, they will also have to overcome the road blocks placed by their own establishment leaders who continue to put their own interests ahead those of our nation.  To be clear, 20 years from now this period will be lauded in history as the dawn of a Marxist era in the United States of America unless the testicles of Conservatism finally descend and we begin to try and make a nation that our great grandchildren could be proud of again.  There is absolutely no way that we can reclaim control of Congress without true Conservative leaders.  There is absolutely no way that we can reclaim control of the White House without a true Conservative candidate.  There is absolutely no way forward for us unless we are bold, take control of the debate, and free ourselves from the shackles of Socialist ideology one voter at a time.  We’ve fallen behind, we’ve not only lost ground, but handed it over to the other side without pause for far too long.

It’s going to have to get far worse before it gets better, and that may be the price we all pay for sitting back as the very ground beneath our foundation of liberty is washed away by the illusion of security so happily offered by our elected leaders.

Far Cry 3

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

I’ve played the Far Cry games ever since it’s very attentive AI enemies would locate and kick my ass for making the mistake of shuffling through the not-high-enough high grass.  Since then, it’s blossomed into a full on sandbox style FPS with Far Cry 2.  Now FC2 was OK, although I still have yet to beat the game because it simply got too repetitive for my tastes (the curse of any big sandbox title is the tendency to fill the empty spaces with repetitive grinding that makes the game redundant and boring).  Still,  after seeing some of the previews for the 3rd in the series I decided to give the game a try.

I’ve put in about 10 hours so far, and from my POV the game’s biggest weakness is that it was published/developed by Ubisoft.  Nothing like trying to play your new game and getting the pimp hand because yet again their back-end DRM infrastructure has broken.  I’m sure that might dissuade a handful of software pirates but like gun control and Obamacare – it just ends up hurting the folks it was intended to “help.”

FC3, like many other shooters released over the past few years has decided to incorporate many RPG style features such as leveling, skill trees, crafting, and looting.  When a friend asked me to describe the game in a few words, I replied “It’s Skyrim with machine guns.”  Of course, I got bored with Skyrim after committing a paycheck worth of time to the game because it became too redundant and boring.  I’m not quite there with FC3 yet.

You start the game on a tropical paradise overrun by pirates.  You and your friends were there on vacation, and ended up being captured then held for ransom by the pirates.  With the help of your older brother who’s a soldier on leave, you escape and the game begins.  Immediately you’re approached by the indigenous people who have been struggling to overcome the pirates and regain control of their homeland.  Your skills expand through the addition of a “tatau” which is a tattoo on your arm that illustrates your choices on the skill tree and identifies you to everyone as a warrior for the islanders.

It’s not hard to start making money, collecting weapons, crafting syringes from plants (health, other boosts) and other accessories with the skins of various animals roaming the massive landscape.  Want to carry more weapons?  Kill some animals and craft a larger holster.  More ammo?  More health? Better armor?  That’s right.  You start with the ability to carry 1 gun and a pathetic amount of ammunition and health syringes.  While stealth is key to many of the games missions and other tasks – it isn’t necessary.  At least it isn’t so necessary that it is annoying and distracts from gameplay (ie Deus Ex, Splinter Cell, Dishonored, etc…)  They make stealth fun.  Sure, you can just run into a stronghold shooting, but you can also do it from a distance with one of my 2 favorite weapons – a silenced sniper rifle or the recurve bow.  Accomplish the task without being detected, and you get various bonuses like the ability to carry even MORE ammunition…. YEAH!

I’m not bored with it yet – even though it took me 2 nights of play to return to Minecraft for a break from the action… It’s still worth the price of admission.