Thursday, September 28, 2006

 
Gun People Can Make Lemonade

It's funny. Some people can take a bad situation and make something good out of it. Case in point: the now defunct assault weapons and hi-cap magazine ban.

Let's set the scene. It's 1993ish, and the world is a good place. The economy is decent, and a man (or woman!) can buy a REALLY good SKS rifle made in China for less than $100. You can buy a GREAT AK-47 (Chinese) for about $250 new. Sure, there are some $1,000 - $3,000 pieces out there, but you can buy some fun to shoot stuff for cheaps.

And every pistol is 9mm with 15+ rounds with spare mags for pennies. Okay, maybe not EVERY pistol, but you get the point.

I was preparing to buy my first cheap AK when the dreaded "assault weapons ban" went into place. My $250 rifle was now about $700. Bummer. The world was coming to an end.

See, I'm not in the militia or anything like that. I'm not a survivalist. I'm not even paranoid. I like to put little holes in paper with a firearm. That's about it. An "assault weapon" is perfect for this as it's fairly inexpensive, shoots inexpensive ammo, has decent iron sights, and is MADE to shoot thousands of rounds without blinking. Plus, as stupid as this will sound, it's REALLY HANDY to have a 20-30 round magazine so I don't spend half my shooting day reloading. Hey, it's not a glamorous answer, but it's pretty accurate.

Anyway, all the "gun people" were weeping and wailing and gnashing our teeth. Gone were nice AK clones for Saturday shooting. Gone were 18 round 9mm mags. Gone were the days of freedom and liberty.

Okay, not really, but the drama is good, right?

Given all these lemons, it's only natural SOMEBODY started making lemonade.

A couple of years into the "ban", somebody finally figured out that since the 9mm had no "firepower" advantage, anymore, it would be a good idea to start looking at new ways to toss a .45ACP bullet downrage. BRILLIANT!!! You mean it might be a great idea to improve handguns that shoot arguably the best self-defense handgun round ever made? Wow! Way to go guys. Of course, it didn't hurt that during this time state after state was enacting handgun carry permits. Hmmmm . . . maybe people might want a decent gun to carry?

Someone then came up with this brilliant idea. Lots of people think the .45ACP kicks too much and isn't suitable for smaller/weaker people, BUT the 9mm just wasn't enough (especially with the 10 round limit). Thus the .40 S&W was born. Oddly enough, S&W didn't make the first gun to shoot this round. I believe it was Glock. Feh, doesn't matter. Born was possibly the best caliber to come out in a decade or two. It's at least one of the most practical.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, American gun makers were figuring out ways around the verbage in the ban. The BIGGEST loophole was that most of the disqualifiers for "assault weapons" were based on country of manufacture. If a certain percentage of the parts were made in the U.S., and the gun itself was assembled in the U.S., the gun was legal to sell.

Before you knew it, there were gun companies you'd probably never heard of making semi-copies of normally REALLY expensive rifles. Even more amusing was that x% of the cheapo "knockoff" was actually the expensive parts. An HK91 might cost $2,000 to $3,000, but a Federal Arms "knockoff" was about $300 to $400 with an HK91 design, HK barrel, HK action, HK mags, and various other HK parts all over the gun. Yeah, the receiver was BUTT UGLY American and the stocks were el cheapo, but, feh, who cares? For $300, you had MOST of a $3,000 rifle, and it tended to work flawlessly. And they were everywhere.

The height of comedy has to be the AK clones. Americans actually found ways to make "quality" AK clones better than the originals at about the same price. With parts, magazines, and accessories all over the market, it was financial genius. Sure, you could no longer import 30 round magazines for an AK-47. You would just have to make due with one or two of the 300 million that were already in the country. Basically, the ban drove AK mag's prices up from $7 to $15-$20. Feh . . .

Back to handguns. About 7 years into the ban, there were .45's and .40's everywhere. One of the speed freak guys came up with an AMAZING idea. What if . . . what IF you could come up with a round for an automatic that’s ROUGHLY a .357 Magnum with regards to energy and all. So, the brilliant people took a 40 S&W, necked it down, and made the .357 Sig round. That's the story. Actually, I think it's a 10mm they necked down, but it doesn't matter. Fine round, though.

Also, oddly enough, I don't think Sig was the first gun to chamber the Sig round. Once again, I THINK it was Glock. Go figure.

And speaking of the 10mm . . . Once the .40 and .45 became popular, the "yeah, but ours go to eleven" guys felt the need to move up a notch. Before the ban, carrying a .45 ACP made a statement. It said "I take my self-protection more seriously than others." Okay, maybe not. Maybe more accurately it said "I can handle the extra kick." Seven years into the ban, feh, .45's were everywhere. Taurus had LITTLE .45's that held 10 rounds and were comfy to shoot. Lots of, dare I say it, little women were learning that the feared .45 really wasn't that bad to shoot at all.

So what were the macho guys to do? While a "big ole" revolver can pack lots of punch, they're so . . . 3 decades ago. With the .45 becoming "common", where is there to go for the auto-lover looking to standout. Ahhhh, the 10mm! It's an "old" round with lots of punch. And didn't it used to actually BREAK guns chambered for it? And doesn't GLOCK make one that WORKS? AND TED NUGENT LOVES THE 10MM!!! What more could you ask for?

Okay, so it's not THAT popular, but it IS seeing lots of fresh interest and plenty of companies make ammo again. I know I like mine! :)

I think someone should mention Cowboy Action Shooting really sprung up strong during this time, too. Honestly, I don't know much the sport other than it has a huge following, and it's made a lot of people look at the .45 Long Colt cartridge as a serious fun and self-defense round. They should.

So, to recap, basically if it weren't for the assault weapons ban, we probably would not have the .40 or the .357 rounds. People would probably STILL be arguing over 18 rounds of 9mm vs. 7 rounds of .45 ACP. We probably would still have to pay big bucks for a decent AR-15 or HK rifle. And who knows if Cowboy Action Shooting would even be around?

The ban is now, happily, dead, and we don't see anymore $100+ magazines for Glocks and Sigs. Fortunately, we still see lots of inexpensive semi-auto rifles that take military repair parts and accessories. I still miss $89 SKS rifles and $250 MAK-90's from Norinco, but, oh well. I wouldn't trade them for my .357 Sig or my 10mm (or my .40 S&W for that matter). I DEFINITELY wouldn't trade them for my wife's PT-145.

So, once again, Americans prove that if you put us in a "bad situation", not only do we survive, but we figure out a way to make it a little better for a while and then we turn it to an advantage. And, lol, we figure out a way to make a LOT of money off of it.

God Bless America! LOL!


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

 
Healthcare

This and immigration are probably the toughest political issues going right now. Maybe the war in Iraq should be in there, but I think immigration and healthcare overshadow the war. Maybe it's just me.

Okay, so what do we do? We want everyone insured. There's only one way to do it. You have to mandate the government "issue" insurance. You CAN'T make it voluntary with subsidized rates. If you think you CAN, I offer you this: do some research on how many citations are issued to drivers without automobile insurance every year. That's required by law and generally a lot cheaper than health insurance, but people don't carry that, either.

Okay, so you just mandate socialized medicine. Basically, you've just destroyed the worlds best healthcare system (with regard to quality and research) and saddled Americans with a HUGE financial burden.

Simply put, socialized medicine will not work.

So now what? Perhaps government insurance that ANYONE can get for a specific amount of money? Something like for $100 per person per month, you get a government subsidized health insurance. Now THAT sounds good, right?

Well, maybe. First, if you offered that, you'd have to make some hefty HMOish agreements. That means you'd have to ration care for lack of better words. Then you'd have to come up with either an independent agency to run the plan OR another government bureaucracy. Which one would you rather have? You're either going to pay big tax dollars to the government OR you're going to be living with a private company trying to shave every dollar out of the plan they can. Neither is particularly tasteful (to me).

But, hey, let's say you do it. You come up with a government mandated "cheap" insurance. Let's look at a timeline.

Who will be the first to get the plan? Easy, people without insurance through work OR people who can't get insurance because of a pre-existing condition. Ponder this group for a bit. They will be people with cancer, AIDs, and other chronic diseases that can't qualify for private insurance. They'll also be a large group of people with disabilities and/or people with excessive prescription costs. And, of course, you'll have elderly people snatching it up.

In other words, you'll have every person who will be at a financial advantage paying $100 a month instead of paying the medical costs out of their own pocket. There will be VERY FEW people who won't pay more than they receive. That equation does NOT work out. Basically, the tax payers will pick up everyone's medical bill.

That being the case, the government will be motivated to get "healthy" people on the plan. The only way to do that is to encourage businesses to stop carrying insurance to push their employees onto the government plan. After all, you can't have successful insurance UNLESS you have a positive cash flow. So, even though many of us have benefits of our choosing now, odds are our employers will drop health insurance like a hot can of Ebola virus once there is a government "alternative".

So, eventually, having an inexpensive government "alternative" healthcare will probably drive away commercial varieties. They would lose their bargaining power since businesses would be pushed into not offering private healthcare in order to prop up the government healthcare. You'd get a backdoor socialized medical system.

Now, the final phase? Complete breakdown, and here's why. Right now, my healthcare is fairly expensive for me and my family ($300+ month). Let's just say that government insurance costs $100/month. Oh, let's say it's $150/month for a family. I'm ASSUMING that it's going to be pretty decent coverage as most poor people can't afford much of ANY healthcare much less a plan with a $50 co-pay and a $5,000/year deductible. Well, if it's GREAT coverage, do you think I care if I get 30 prescriptions, 2 MRI's per month, and a weekly cardio check-up? Nope. Neither will anyone else. I figure we'll clog every hospital in America in hopes of finding SOMETHING wrong with us. Maybe we can get a cool prescription, or, better yet, and impairment rating for disability. Hey, it could happen.

Of course, at the same time, you'd be regulating doctors' pay, prescription costs, and other things. In other words, you'd stifle research and the attraction of the best minds to the business.

Another thing to remember, with the government running this and the individual having little or no say-so in the level of care they receive, what's the financial motivation for keeping the sick, old, and disabled alive? Simple. There isn't one.

Oh, and abortion now is paid for by everyone. And abortion SURE IS a great financial alternative to raising a baby, right?

Basically, what a government offered plan would do is destroy private insurance and remove the individual's ability to provide an improved or enhanced level of healthcare should the desire so. Well, it would limit the middle-class's ability to. Rich people can get what they like (REALLY rich people). It's people like me and my family who would have to sacrifice our level of healthcare.

Maybe that's the noble thing, you know? Maybe I should tell my family that they may or may NOT get the best level of care but they should find comfort in the fact that the guy who's hooked on crack and stole our television WILL be helped by the plan. No, I can no longer get cutting edge treatment for my heart blockage, but hey, the unemployed mother pregnant with her 7th kid will, most certainly, get the care she needs.

Somehow, as evil as it sounds, I'm not comforted by that. I think that the more you remove the motivation for people to succeed, the less effort they'll put into succeeding. This is just another thing that will remove motivation from the working people.


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

 
I'm Going to Regret this BUT:

Ever notice that since the "war" in the Middle East started that all the people demanding that women be allowed to fight in direct combat units have gotten really quiet?

Now, I'm SURE that those people will defend their silence by claiming the current "war" is illegal or some other such ethical reason, but does that really matter? I mean, if these women want the same rights as men, why should they have the right to pick and choose their wars?

Don't get me wrong. I don't think men are "better" than women. I DO recognize the barbarian and borderline caveman notion that men and women are different, though, and to progress, I think we have to get out of that blind "we all equal NO MATTER WHAT" mantra. Once we finally RErecognize that men and women can have co-operative and equal roles in society WITHOUT artificially FORCING men and women to be equal on all counts (at least on paper), I think we'll progress to solve the next layer of problems facing humanity.


 
Not Paranoid BUT . . .

A wise man once said this to me:

A government can only rule over those who break the law.

It's a bit oblique, but what it means is that a government really only has power over those who aren't following the law. If you pay your taxes, follow the law, and don't run afoul of the police, basically, there's nothing the government can do to you LEGALLY. To have any power over you, they have to make you break the law.

I wonder, sometimes, that if our government isn't evolving into that kind of state of being i.e. eventually, there will be enough laws to make sure that we're all "criminals" of sorts and subject to the government's control.

Maybe I'm paranoid. Neh, not really. I'm not one of those black helicopter people. However, I DO think we're making more and more rules for everyone.

Do this sometime. Go to a public school somewhere, and walk around. Count how many signs you find that have some kind of vaguely 1984ish tone:
Now, I realize that times are different now, and school violence is way up. No, not really. Check the stats. School violence REPORTING is way up, but incident counts aren't. What we have is a place where, by law, we must send our children, and we govern them with rules written for the worst of the offenders.

If you translate that into adult terms, what we would have is everyone in prison because you need that kind of control for the few that will violate the rest.

Of course, there's no way we, as adults, would stand for that. Do you find it ironic that we, as PARENTS, generally drop our kids off at state run facilities with JUST THAT type of philosophy?


 
Banning Weapons That AREN'T Involved in Crimes? Yup!

This is pretty funny:

As usual, Washington, D.C., which leads the nation in anti-gun laws, led the nation in murder, with a rate six times higher than the rest of the country. Neighboring Maryland, where gun control advocates have been particularly active recently, once again had the highest robbery rate among the states, but also tied for the unenviable distinction of "first place" in murder among the states. However, despite Maryland's high crime counts, CeaseFire Maryland, the local Brady Campaign affiliate that recently released a paper demanding an "assault weapon" ban, was unable to point to any crimes in the state involving such a gun.

That's right, folks. Maryland wants to ban assault weapons, even though NO EXAMPLE of them being used in a crime there could be found.

I think that's one of the problems with trying to control crime with more laws. More times than not, they ONLY affect law abiding citizens.


Monday, September 25, 2006

 
Would YOU Run for Office?

This is actually something people SHOULD think about unlike many things we bloggers read/write. Given the political climate and political environment, if someone asked you to run for office, be it local or regional or whatever, would you run?

Truthfully, I wouldn't. No way. As much as I'd like to think I'd do a decent job, as much as I'd like to think I wouldn't be a crook, as much as I think I'd like to help our community out, I don't think much of anything could convince me to run for office.

Okay, now for the "why's".

First off, you're going to get dissected back to your very first diaper change by the media. EVERYTHING you've ever done is going to be questioned. Someone is going to dig up that ex you cheated on. Someone is going to dig up that speeding ticket for 95mph when you were 17. Someone is going to remember the party where you threw up in the bathroom after the vodka shooters in college. And if it's not you, it will be something your mother or father did that you don't even know about. And if EVERYTHING is clean, they'll look even harder because OBVIOUSLY, you've done a good job at covering everything you've ever done up.

Secondly, you're going to get judged on EVERYTHING you say. And rest assured, it will be taken out of context. I think Jesse Jackson illustrated it best.

"I was speaking with the Pope during his visit to New York. We were out on a ferry, and His Holiness lost his hat in the wind. It blew out onto the water. Well, I walked out on the water, got the gentleman's hat, and returned it to him. The next day the newspaper reported that Jesse Jackson can't swim."



Third, no matter how nice you are, once you're elected, every moron in your town will call you corrupt, rich, and a liar. Sad thing is, odds are, you aren't that rich. Rich people . . . REALLY rich people don't generally run for office. They buy someone that will. Regardless, you're a scumbag forever once elected for any public office.

Fourth, and this is the one that probably REALLY scares people. What if you . . . succeed? What if, IF you do get elected to some small city position, and you do pretty well with it. People like you and want you to run for county seat. Well, that's cool, but what if you're successful there. You run for a State position? Ahhhhh, now it gets hairy. To get elected there, people are going to dig through everything you've ever done. LOTS of people will. And while you, as a Republican, may have LOTS of Democratic friends, remember this . . . there's at least ONE Democrat in their organization who'd lie, cheat, and steal to make you look bad. They'll say ANYTHING, start any rumor, and pull any dirty trick they can to keep you from winning.

Also, as you get further up the food chain, you get more and more exposure to the seedier side of things. Eventually, I would think that to REALLY succeed, odds are you've shaken hands with people that you normally wouldn't want within 300 feet of your children. And if you don't like it, you don't have to run.

Basically, I think that anyone who runs for a higher end political position now probably doesn't care who knows what about them. Basically, if you find out that one of the candidates had sex with a sheep, odds are, it won't affect anything because the other candidate had sex with an underage goat, and neither one wants to bring either situation up.

The last Presidential campaign was a prime example. Yeah, maybe Bush DID dodge the draft, but Kerry out and out lied about his service and then had a hand in helping the North Vietnamese justify imprisoning and torturing the same soldiers that Kerry proudly claimed he served with.

Huh? It's like Jane Fonda saying "well, at least I'm not a draft dodger." You're right, Ms. Fonda, you're not . . . but . . .

Anyway, I hear people saying "well, you get the government you vote for", but that's really over-simplistic. If your choices are limited to being killed by hanging or being killed by a firing squad, simply voting does not mean you want to die. It simply means you're picking the least unpleasant way to go.

I think until we can make politics something that basically good people see a point in pursuing, we're going to continue to get people who really don't care what others think or say about them.


 

Qualifying to Vote

A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece on a blog about having to qualify to vote. Basically, it came from a conversation I had with someone I really respect concerning voting. In a nutshell, he went to vote in a local election, and a very young relative of his was there to vote, as well. He complimented her on her civic mindedness, and her reply was "oh, I'm just here because my mom made me come . . . I don't know anything about any of these people."

He was somewhat disturbed by what he heard. Basically, her vote could go to nullify another person who's really done a lot of research and knows what's going on. Or, hey, it could go to nullify another uninformed voter who simply voted opposite of this one. In the end, it's a wash. So what?

My friend suggested that people should have to "qualify" to vote. Now, granted, this struck me like a truck. The very sound of it brought about visions of poll tax and Jim Crow laws. It got my dander up. However, this friend has had sage advice for me in the past, so I decided to at least mull over what he was saying.

Naturally, I asked "what constitutes 'qualified' for a voter?" He had some decent answers, I think, considering the argument.

Some of the qualifications that would allow voting he listed were:

Now, granted, those are pretty loose standards. Let's face it, the only REAL one with much bite is the government sponsored "living" for the most part. I KINDA' understand that because if someone is living completely off a government program without working, basically, that person is living off of everyone else. Why should they have a voice in how everyone else's money is spent? I see the spirit in it, at least.

It was a good discussion. I don't buy off on it, completely, but I think his point isn't to restrict people from voting. I think it's more symbolic in the means of showing people that voting should be a "special" right i.e. a right you take more seriously than others.

It would take changing the Constitution to do this, and I wouldn't support that. I think it's more thought provoking than anything.



 
Football

Boy, this isn't going to make me popular at all, but, hey, nothing new there, I guess. And there's no easy way to say this, so I'll just say it: football scares me.

Okay, the game itself does not scare me. It's been around forever. Heck, as a kid, I played my share of backyard games, got scraped up, got shaken up, and got on with life. No big deal. All of us "older" guys did it. I think that was just the "good ole days". Now, though, I'm not so sure.

Now, let me preface this by saying I'm a dad (my son is 7), and I'm not particularly over-protective. My son has played soccer since he was 4, some baseball, and we wrestle on the ground. I can't wait to get him into Karate, and I think he's about old enough to take to the shooting range. And he's already an accomplished snake and spider handler! LOL! He's not exactly in a bubble.

I've got scars I'm proud of that I wouldn't trade for a million dollars, and I hope that, by the time my son is 40, he'll have some of his own he still smiles about.

ALL THAT BEING SAID, football scares me. It hit home this year when my son's soccer coach asked me if my son would like to play flag football. I shuddered a bit, and said "I'll ask him, but I'm not going to push him." To the coach's credit, he said that was fine with him. My son had no interest. He LOVES to be a goaltender. I've never seen him enjoy anything more. Thank God . . .

His best friend, however, dropped out of soccer and proudly boasted "I'M PLAYING FOOTBALL!!" The kid is REALLY small. Really small. And he broke his arm in the first game. Scar to be proud of? You bet. But I'm glad it's HIS scar.

That was about 2 weeks ago. Last week, my hometown's football team (great football tradition) had a game where one of their players was intentionally injured. The offending player was overheard by SEVERAL people saying, after the injury, "I finally got you." Other players on this kid's team were penalized for late hits and other offenses throughout the game.

Okay, "dirty football", fine. It's bad . . . blah blah blah. Before you move on, however, look deeper. These schools aren't inner-city "gang" schools with a bitter hatred. There was no rivalry to speak of, actually, as one of the teams just entered the other's division. Also, the offending team was a high-end private school with a tradition of fair play and sportsmanship. A LONG tradition of that. And, my hometown's team doesn't exactly have a bad reputation, either.

The injury is a serious ACL injury. He's out for the season, and he's a senior. Basically, he's done. His "career" is over. I'm not sure if he was going to college for football, but it's over now.

Same thing happened to a STUD player a town over 2 weeks ago. The kid was being scouted by Division 1 teams. Rumor has it that he'd actually been seriously considering two of them. He blew out his knee. Now he's looking at a local private school or MAYBE a really small state school. Was he injured on purpose? Who knows? Are the other teams around him in better shape for the tournaments now? Absolutely. Did the coach on the other team question or punish the player involved with the injury? Don't know, but I'll say this. I've NEVER heard of a player being punished for injuring another player on the opposing team.

Now, I'm not saying that every football coach or player is out there trying to injure the other side. I don't think that at all. I think SOME will. I don't think ANYONE particularly cares if the other side gets hurt, though.

So, what's new about any of this, you say? Football has ALWAYS been like that! Maybe, but here's what's different. When I was in high school, we had a "terror" on my team that other players had no hesitation about expressing fear of. The guy REALLY hurt some other players, and he was an ox. I didn't even like being around the guy in school. He was a whopping 225 pounds. Put him in school today, though, and he MIGHT make a first string lineman if he worked hard. That's about it. A couple of local high schools have running backs that size.

There are some kids playing high school football tipping 300 pounds. Ponder that, if you will. If you're a dad, think of some 300 pound guy you work with, and picture your 140-150 pound son getting tackled by this guy. And then keep this in mind. The 300 pound senior isn't fat. He's strong, and he's been lifting weights the last 4 years, too. And he doesn't care if your kid breaks his legs, arms, or back. The more "hurt" he is, the less a threat he'll be on the next play.

The last high school football game I went to, I stood beside a guy I actually went to school with. His nephew as playing. During a run, his nephew got hit HARD by some monster from the other team (250+ pounds). My friend yelled the usual "get up boy, you ain't hurt", and then proceeded to tell me about how much tougher kids were when he was playing football. Amazing. I broke the news to him that the people he remembers so fondly about being so tough were about 50-75 pounds lighter than most of the guys out there now, and probably 30% slower and 30-60% weaker with regards to brute strength. Basically, that team down there would make physical minced meat of any team we had 20-25 years ago.

We, as adults, remember things a lot differently that what they really were. I can't tell you how many "old-timers" brag about how fast their GTO's and Camaros were in the 60's. They went 180 mph around corners and lifted front ends off the ground punching at 60. No they didn't. Actually, my new 4 door Charger is faster than the fastest Charger made in the 60's or 70's, and it handles better to boot. My 1/4 mile times are better, too. Basically, the facts and memories don't match up.

same thing goes for football. Kids are bigger, stronger, and faster than they were when we were in school. And the injuries being dished out are horrid.

A kid in Martin broke his neck not long ago. ACL's and knees getting blown are normal. Nobody even blinks. Getting surgery now isn't a big issue. We just hope they recover from surgery in time to finish the season.

What does this say about us as a society? I don't know. I hear my fellow adults talk about the most recent high school football games almost with bloodlust. "Man, we hit them hard, and we really shook them up in the backfield with some big hits before halftime." It's almost like these kids are there to hurt and be hurt for the entertainment of a bunch of adults that would, more than likely, get killed if they stepped onto the field.

Hey, I'm not against football as a game. I just think that we're possibly developing "kids" to such a high level that they may actually be an overwhelming danger to themselves. When you start looking at high school rosters and the weights vary from 145 pounds to 315 pounds, you've got lots of potential for serious injury there.

Maybe I'm overreacting. Maybe. I don't know. I WILL say this, though. I covered high school sports for a couple of years, and we talked to coaches in the preseason. In basketball, coaches had all kinds of concerns like "I really hope our defense picks up" or "we'll be in good shape if I can get some scoring from the perimeter." In football, the almost exclusive answer from EVERY coach was "we just need to stay healthy at the end of the season". That says volumes. If you look at the statement, it translates into "while we're working on plays and strategies, we fear injuries more than anything, and late season injuries are even worse."

What do you do, though? You can't stop football. However, I DO like what Mike Ditka said when they asked him how to make football safer. "I think they should remove the face mask from the helmet. A face mask turns a helmet from protection to a weapon. I know they'd never do it, but if I were in charge, I'd get rid of it. I think you'd see injuries drop to nothing in weeks." Funny, huh? "Iron" Mike Ditka seems to think football is a little too dangerous, too. I don't think I feel as bad, now.


Monday, September 18, 2006

 
Extremism in America

Cutting through the rhetoric, America has problems. We all know what they are. We just can't agree on how bad they are, which one is worse, and what to do about the problems.

The issues, more than likely, AREN'T that no one has a good idea or a method of solving problems. In my opinion, the problem is that both sides of the argument are pushed SO FAR to the extremes that no one can implement a plan.

Want to destroy poverty? You can either drop all social programs, remove minimum wages, and kick out all the immigrants OR you can make new job training free (tax-payer supported), implement socialized medicine, and tax the "rich" to redistribute the wealth. Neither alternative is particularly desireable nor would they be effective. And you can forget being electable on either platform save for some isolated areas of the country.

Want to solve gun violence? You either pass a law to require all guns be locked up all the time, tax ammo at $100 per box, and require registration and licensing of ALL gun owners or you just issue everyone in America a firearm and require gun safety and handling be taught in school to everyone. Neither is going to either be electable or successful.

It's a self-perpetuating problem of keeping things relatively centered. You have to have an extreme view to counteract the other side's extreme view to bring things into the middle. It works . . . sort of, but it makes the people closer to the middle feel like their leadership is out of touch. It DEFINITELY encourages people to take extreme views because they feel threatened by the other side.

I'm a member of the NRA and the GOA, and I'm an avid shooter. On the other hand, I'm not a "gun nut", and I'm not for "a machine gun in every home" America. I don't mind a 15 minute background check. I don't mind qualifying for a carry permit. Feh. It's not that big of a deal.

Now, on the surface, who cares about a background check? They DO run the serial number of the gun, so, in truth, the government "knows" you just bought a gun and what gun it was. Do they have a "right" to? Right? No, probably not, but who cares? If the men in black start confiscating guns, lets face it, things have already gone to pot.

HOWEVER, the "anti-gun" extremists want to be able to take people on how many guns they have. They want to limit how many you can purchase, and they want outlandish taxes passed. They want to pass laws saying the guns have to be locked up AT ALL TIMES, unloaded, with ammo stored far away in another locked box.

With that in mind, I can't really consider voting for ANYONE that even resembles supporting such a law. Basically, I have to vote for "our" extremist. I don't have an option for "let's do something that makes sense."

And that's one of the biggest problems in America. There's no option for "can't we just do something that makes sense?" If we expect to continue to do good things in this country, we REALLY need to stop paying attention to the far ends of the spectrum and start getting somewhere near the middle for a workable solution.


Friday, September 15, 2006

 
Ran Arcoss this and Found it Ironic

This was said by a Turkish Muslim leader regarding the Pope referencing some 100+ year old book:

"Anyone who describes Islam as a religion as intolerant encourages violence," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said.



LOL! Funny. Translated into REAL English: "IF YOU CALL US INTOLERANT OR EXPRESS OPINIONS AGAINST US, WE'LL GET VIOLENT!"

You know, the response to what the Pope said may be reinforcing the book the Pope referenced more than refuting what the book implies.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

 

Girls Gone Wild

I've posted on this in the past, ruffled some feathers on another board (sorry about that), and caused a fuss, so I thought I'd just post about it here.

The background is on a good friend's blog:

http://newscoma.blogspot.com/2006/09/girls-gone-wild-fined.html#links

Basically, the guys from Girls Gone Wild got busted for featuring a couple tapes with some under aged girls on the tapes (17 years old). They admitted that they did not follow the law with regards to obtaining proper ID before taking and distributing adult images. Hey, they broke the law, they should pay.

Now, before we have a self-righteous parade down Main Street celebrating the victory over scumbag "child pornographers", let's look at what happened i.e. how they got the material for the tapes.

GGW shows up at a bar with 3 to 7 days of notice to the public. Basically, GGW lets women know they're going to be at a certain place at a certain time and for them to show up to try and be on the tapes i.e. it's all a setup. ID's are checked at the door of the clubs (18+). Girls go in, get drunk, get naked, and have sex with the closest body (man, woman, or brass pole . . . it doesn't seem to matter). And it's all on tape to be sold to the public. I really don't think anyone is unaware of the premise, are they?

Now, according to reports, these 17 year old girls were outside the club who had been advertising GGW would be there filming and got naked beside the BIG MARKED GIRLS GONE WILD BUSES. Granted, the cameramen should have checked ID's, but they didn't. They did what they're paid to do i.e. film young women getting naked.

Is this a violation of civil law? Absolutely! And they paid civil penalties. Is this a violation of criminal law? Grrrrrrr . . . maybe. Maybe. But what responsibility do these girls have in the "crime"? Legally, none. However, they actively pursued the criminal act, correct? Also, if the act was criminal, then they make criminals of everyone at the company. Oh, and they make criminals of the media companies that advertised the tapes, and possibly the companies that delivered the packages. By letter of the law, anyone with images of the tapes is guilty. Better check your SPAM box on your EMail program at home. If there's a GGW advertisement on it, then you have possession of "kiddie porn", and you're just as guilty as the couple recently busted in Memphis. Scary, huh? You don't have to KNOW you have it to be guilty. You just have to have it. If you don't like that, then you can't hold the GGW people responsible, either. Did they KNOW? More importantly, can you PROVE they knew?

Honestly, they probably didn't know. Let's face it, while you MAY be able to sell some extra tapes if you claim a girl is 17, it's illegal, and you can't use the byline, anyway. Besides, GGW doesn't really need help selling tapes, do they? There are plenty of 18 year old girls who'll do anything for free booze and a t-shirt.

Calling it child pornography is simply an attempt to demonize the GGW organization. If anything, it desensitizes the public to REAL c.p. that needs to be addressed. Let’s face it. There’s not much difference between a 17 year old boob and an 18 year old boob EFFECTIVELY. Legally, of course, that’s a different subject. Still, it’s hardly kiddie porn.

But hey, let's cut to the chase. Is GGW the problem here? Neh. If you think they're the problem, you're fooling yourself. As a man, I can tell you that there has never been a shortage of men who would tell a woman to strip down and makeout with her best friend while we video tape it. I promise you that throughout the history of man, there have been BILLIONS of men who would enjoy seeing very attractive women getting naked and going wild. Hey, we're wired that way. Attractive naked women aren't going to scare many men away.

However, there has always been a hitch. Oddly enough, most 35 year old guys can't walk into a club full of 18-21 year old attractive women and command nudity and debauchery. I promise you that, even in my prime (lol), I could not go into Cheers or Tremors (LONG AGO!) and get anyone of the female persuasion to pull up her shirt or makeout with her sister while I filmed them. Girls just wouldn't do it. There were, I assure you, no shortage of men who would have done it had they had ANY hope of success without the fear of being killed.

So, why do girls do it now? Why today do young women find it so desireable to "show off the goods" for a t-shirt and a pair of panties?

Ladies and gentlemen, I assert that GGW and the people who buy the tapes are NOT the problem. The problem is that people will help the guy make the tapes for free.

Now, let's go a little further, okay?

One may argue that the sex industry victimizes and exploits women. MAY argue, mind you, but there is something there to discuss. One may argue that these women are forced by economic hardship to do things they normally wouldn't do i.e. sell their body for dollars or even food.

GGW breaks the mold here. The girls on GGW (regardless of age) aren't in it for the money. Those girls aren't starving single mothers or drug users. Just look at the commercials on TV. Those are 18-20 year old college students more than likely, and they drove the Acura that daddy bought them to the bar. I'd be willing to bet that 30% of them have daddy's credit card in their pocket, too. Just a guess.

So, these girls aren't doing it for the money. So much for the "poor exploited female" thing, eh? So WHY then?

Look at their comments on interviews. The prevelant theme ranges from "I look good! I want the world to see it!" or "eh, why not? You're only young once."

Whether you know it or not, the current female generation is not a bunch of Pollyanna's in need of the government to explain the birds and the bees to them. Listen people, the clue phone is ringing. It can be picked up at WalMart pretty easily if you go look. At the Milan WalMart, they sell thong underwear in the "juniors" section. While you're there, you can pick up a water bra, too. They have them in some fairly small sizes, as well. Yes people, you can get your 13 year old daughter a thong and fake boob bra in her size at WalMart. Think we're not over-sexualizing our kids? You're crazy.

But, if you're going to go after the GGW people, you might want to pick some possibly worse offenders. You might want to check your kid's MySpace page. What kinds of images are on his/her "Pictures Page"? Then check out their "Friends'" pages. Any of those pictures creep you out a bit. I'll bet, if you look long enough, some of them will.

If you're REALLY feeling brave, and you have some teenagers around the house, slyly borrow one of their cell phones to make a call sometime. Check out their picture collection. Recognize any of the people they have some risque pictures of? You might.

Maybe you won't find any of this. Maybe you have a bunch of good kids around you. If so, NICE JOB! You should feel good about yourself. However, I know that even in small-town West Tennessee a few kids have been busted in high schools with nude or semi-nude pictures of their classmates on their phones. A few were even mailed BY THE PERSON IN THE PICTURE. No booze. No GGW hype machine. Somebody just felt comfortable at the age of 16 or 17 to take a naked picture of themself and send it to someone else. Welcome to the Unites States in 2006.

GGW isn't the disease people want to make it out to be. Granted, it's MUCH easier to attack a "pervert" and the porn industry. Let's face it. They don't garner much sympathy. It's very modern to take on the mantra of "for the children" and go out jousting with windmills. The problem here, however, is that the "pervert" isn't tricking girls into doing awful things. He's not drugging them EVEN THOUGH there's plenty of drinking done voluntarily. He's not even paying poor girls to do the stuff. They're doing it because they CHOOSE TO, and they're comfortable with it. He's made it something that even laws and protests can't fight. Just like violent rap music, stupid fashion, gun worship, and bi-sexuality, we've made being on Girls Gone Wild . . . HIP! And if you can make it hip, you'll have young people lined up for miles to get in on it.



 

Poker for Everyone

I saw an article yesterday that was pretty interesting. It was in a newspaper, so I don't have a copy to link to, but here's the basic overview.

This poker champ basically conceded that poker is more about luck than skill . . . now, at least. Evidently, the guy went to a big tournament that he and other "pros" hit every year, and a bunch of "no names" made it to the semi-finals without a "pro" in the bunch".

The author got beat out by no-names who played super aggressively and out-lucked him. Even the spectators were shaking their heads. Evidently, he wasn't the only one. According to the author (and the published results), none of the pros advanced terribly far.

I heard this echoed about 2 years ago during an interview with an old guy who was supposedly THE old man of poker. He'd won over a million bucks in his career, and all the other guys interviewed said he was one of the toughest players in the game. Anyway, they asked him point blank "how are you doing?" His answer was very telling. "I'm doing very well against the pros, but the amateurs, they're killing me. I have no idea what they're doing, and neither do they generally. It makes them tough to play." In other words, it's tough to beat people who don't play by the rules. It's especially tough when much of the game IS luck.

The author of the story said he played textbook poker. He played against newb players that he could read. He didn't make any mistakes. What beat him was an unlucky card draw compounded by what normally would be a poor move by the new player. Instead, it was a great gamble, and the pro lost.

So, after years of playing and defending poker as a game of skill, the old pro, after seeing himself and ALL the other pros lose, concedes that it's all luck.

Duh. LOL!

Okay, possibly the most pertinent thing the author pointed out was that instead of 100 pros playing in these tournaments, there are 10,000 amateurs and 200 pros. When only 100 pros play, one could argue luck has little to do with things. After all, a pro won, right? Well, yeah, but there were only pros playing. It really hurts the argument, don't you think?

However, put 200 pros in with 10,000 unpredictable uber-aggressive gamblers, and things get chaotic i.e. luck becomes a bigger and bigger factor.

I never understood the love of poker. My daughter is an avid player, and she says she can win consistently. In a small arena, she could be right. However, if she played against 10,000 people, who knows?

Poker or any card game is an exercise in chaos theory. Add people, and it just gets worse. Maybe if the people behave by certain laws and rules, you actually take the chaos out some and insert "skill". Then I suppose you have a contest of skill. Throw out the normal behavior, though, and you have a game pretty much based on luck.

I'm not sure why I found this article so interesting, but I did.



Tuesday, September 12, 2006

 
No Alternative in Sight?

I've heard this for the past 2 or 3 years: "Bush has screwed up the country. It's all his fault." Okay, cool. I'm not a Bush backslapper, and I don't like EVERYTHING he's done, but I don't see him as the antichrist, either. At worse, I think it's a sad commentary on U.S. politics that HE was probably the best guy running. Sad.

However, okay, Bush is awful and Bush is terrible and blah, blah, blah. But, Bush is leaving. What then?

I've asked this on several discussion boards, but no one has really given me a good answer: who are the Democrats going to offer up as an alternative to Bush?

Now, I HAVE been given answers. Basically, the answers translate into "I hate Bush", "Bush sucks", and "It's all his fault". Okay, fine, let's say you're right. Who are the Dems going to run? "Bush sucks", "Bush stole the election", blah, blah, blah.

The names that I can dig out of them are Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, and John Kerry. I hear Edwards every now and again, too.

Hearing those names probably make the RNC giggle behind closed doors in my opinion. Let's face it. There's not a "winner" in the bunch. Gore couldn't win his own State. I don't know ANYONE who feels particularly comfortable with Kerry. He's "fishy". Edwards, well, I don't know. He might have a following. Call him a dark horse.

Hillary, though, seems to be the first choice for the Dems. I'm not sure that's a winning choice, though, and it's not because she's a woman. I don't believe that she's really put herself in a position to say "look at my record". If nothing else, she's a moderate, too. Socialized medicine seems long ago in her past. She hasn't pushed it again on a national level. She hasn't attacked Bush until recently, and she didn't even vote against the war.

Possibly another thing that could hurt her is that she's a "made" politician. I mean, let's face it, she moved into an area that she knew she would win, she was "given" her home, and she hasn't even lived there any significant amount of time. Her being elected is simply a statement that the people in her represented area simply want Hillary Clinton in Washington. AND THAT'S COOL! It's the will of the (her) people. However, I'm not sure that the rest of the country is going to be comfy with that come election day.

I think I heard it best put when I read "Hillary makes an outstanding victim, and she can garner sympathy like no other, but she's very weak in the strong attacking position." She's not a publicly strong person (in perception). She's not seen as hammering away at the system. I don't think women see her as a great feminist role model, either. Her only link to feminism is that she's in a political position to run for President. That's really about it with regards to the public eye. I'm sure staunch supporters can refute me here, but I'm talking more about the average voter's perception here.

On the other hand, the Republicans DO have a few strong candidates with some "name brand". Frist has been attacked and attacked, but the guy seems to have some guts about him, and he has a decent following.

The name I'm hearing now, though, as the favorite is Rudy Giuliani. Now there's a guy with some name recognition, some political power, and a decent enough record of successes. He's from New York (politically), and he would really tear away at Clinton's local powerbase.

He's conservative on lots of issues, liberal on a few (which is good), and seems to interview both comfortably and powerfully. I think he'd be overpowering in a debate, as well.

Sounds wonderful, eh? Well, sort of save for some issues that could throw curves into his campaign.

Even though I HATE to bring it up because it hasn't been an issue in years, and some good things have happened in the last 3 or 4 years, his stance on guns might hurt him. Giuliani believes in licensing for gun owners. He also believes in written tests for gun ownership, as well. He's got a poor rating with the NRA, and those guys swing a big stick. He's going to struggle with that AND his "New Yawk" accent wtih Southern states. I'm NOT saying he's right or wrong. I'm simply pointing out an issue.

Most of his other stances are digestible by the country more than likely.

That being said, I think most likely that if Giuliani is nominated, he's going to be tough to beat. He seems removed from the Washington crowd, and he doesn't have that "taint", you know? If he can overcome the gun issue, it's going to be a long road for the Dems.

But who do the Dems have to blame for this? Themselves, really. The past two years, all they've done is scream about how Bush has fouled up the world, and how everything is his fault. Okay, that's fine for a while, but it eventually gets boring and old. What have you got to offer as an alternative?

The "normal" liberal issues, in my opinion, aren't going to win in the next big election. I don't think anyone is concerned about civil rights. I don't think that gay issues are going to swing things. Abortion, eh, both candidates are going to be pro-abortion, so it will probably be a wash. Women's rights? Eh, probably not a political hot button.

I think the issues will be jobs and the border. I'm getting the impression that the War in Iraq is important to people, but no one right now knows what to do, so it's difficult to debate. Maybe gas prices will come up, but who's going to have an answer for that?

Creating jobs and getting tough on illegal immigration aren't liberal strong points. Perception is that the liberal stance on unemployment is simply better unemployment benefits, free health insurance, and free job skills training. Also perception is that the liberal solution on illegal immigration is to give amnesty to anyone here and to let everyone else who wants in, in.

From a spectator standpoint, the next election will be something worth watching, I believe. From a U.S. citizen standpoint, however, it could be rather frightening.



Monday, September 11, 2006

 

Rules

I don't want many. I WOULD like to keep the 4-letter words down to a minimum. I don't mind a "hell" or "damn" for emphasis now and again, but I'd like to keep this to a level where somebody's mom isn't going to cringe if their kid reads it.

I'd like to steer clear of personal attacks, but they're going to happen sometime. All I'm going to say is if you DO have something that addresses a person directly, at least ATTEMPT to make it constructive . . . or at least CREATIVE.

If you mention black, Mexican, or any other race, I'm not, repeat NOT going to go off the deep end and call you a racist. If it's relevant and not some obviously asinine statement, feel free to put it here. I don't consider statements like "most illegal alien activity is coming from Mexico" as some kind of inflammatory racist statement. Yeah, people come from every border we have from 200 different countries, but statistics say most come across the Mexican border and most are Mexican or at least Hispanic. I don't consider recognizing something like that as racism.

Saying "all Mexicans are illegal aliens and can't speak the language" isn't racist, either. It's stupid, and it probably invalidates everything else that person would say. The statement, however, isn't really racist. What's a "Mexican", anyway? When I was in Mexico, I met a "Mexican" named Chang Li, and he spoke perfect English.

Now, saying that "all blacks are dumb, and can't help it", now THAT'S racism. A comment like that will be filed in the "need material for a good laugh sometimes" box.

On the other hand, reflections and comments on society are welcome and encouraged. While saying that Eskimos are naturally superior to the rainforest people of Brazil is both racist and about impossible to prove, one COULD postulate that the Eskimo SOCIETY is better if they work together better and encourage their members to succeed and exploit their talents. I'm not too sure about DNA being a chief factor of success, but I think society is.

Religion is open topic, too. I don't really plan on delving into religion too much, but if the topic comes up, so be it. I'm fine with that. HOWEVER, I think you have to stick to scripture (specific to that religion) when discussing such matters. Basically, you can't have a discussion on Christianity that is based on the Bible not being accurate or "truth". That's patently stupid. If the Bible is accurate and represents "truth", then it narrows down the debate pretty tightly. I find most debates where the Bible supports both sides to be so far and away above what a layman would really understand that it doesn't matter. It's probably the same with any other religion.

If you bring up religion, make sure it's in a way that you're comfortable talking about. If you find yourself getting into violent physical altercations because you don't like how much water other people use to baptize in their church, I would STRONGLY recommend staying away from the religious topics here, okay?

Actually, that goes for anything here. If the very subject of gun control, abortion, or religion get you REALLY heated to the point of loss of control, avoid the subjects here. Energetic is FINE, but when we lose control of our emotions, debate goes to crap. I'm a "shooter", and sometimes I get into debates on the Second Amendment with "non-gun" people. I find that what REALLY destroys the gun people's argument is that some people are so passionate about it that they immediately turn into the "cold dead hands" people. Yeah, I'm not turning in any of my guns, either, but my first response isn't to scream about commandos showing up to my house in a black helicopter to seize my son's .22 target rifle. Emotion is fine, but let's keep it directed in a positive way.

You might want to be prepared to be offended. Dennis Leary said it best: "Life's tough . . . get a helmet". If you're new to internet activity and haven't spent a year or so chatting on political discussion boards, please don't be surprised if you read things that disturb you. I've been called every name in the book, my race has been attacked, and a few people have even complained that my parents weren't full-fledged members of the human race. It happens. I'm not here to insult anyone, and I don't enjoy saying things that COULD be hurtful to others. On the other hand, I'm NOT P.C., and I don't think you help fix problems by disqualifying solutions because the ACLU or PETA would frown at you.

There are lots of freedoms in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Not being offended isn't mentioned.

That's pretty much it. I'm not interested in you having 3 sources for everything you comment on, but if you say something REALLY outlandish that the average Joe couldn't verify with a 4 minute Google search, please cite SOME kind of sources.

Needless to say, please no SPAM or solicitation.



 
Why am I doing this . . . again?

Honestly, I'm still working this out, myself. For a brief period of time, I had a blog. It was okay, I guess, but I didn't get a lot of feedback and all. I enjoyed making comments on other blogs, but I don't think other people enjoyed my comments. I take responsibility for a lot of this as I rarely make what I call cheerleader posts i.e. things like "I agree completely" or "Nice post!". If I agree with what's been said or I'm just indifferent, I don't make a comment. If something DOES pique my interest, I sometimes comment ad nauseum, and that's probably something I shouldn't do on someone else's blog.

Another problem I have is that I'm a veteran of discussion boards. I think I started some 10 years ago discussing politics, religion, and whatnot. I got used to the point-counterpoint type thing, and it's what I like. Sometimes it's adversarial, and sometimes things get just plain mean, but I find that discussion either solidifies your argument OR makes you search for better justification. Cheerleading does ever do anything particularly constructive (opinion). Also, it's a great way to kill a site. Some good friends of mine started a discussion site with about 30 people putting their minds together. It was a WONDERFUL start, but the 30 people were all right-wing conservatives. It made for boring conversation for the most part, and the site died after about 3 months.

Anyway, this is what I'd like to do here. I intend to post things I write myself generally. I'm not really fascinated by link dumping. I MAY make some comments on articles or even other bloggers now and again, but I'd rather concentrate on expressing my own thoughts. It's self-indulgence, I know, but hey, it's a blog. This is the place to do it.

With regards to comments, the more the merrier. Honestly, I WANT the discussion. I enjoy it. I don't really fight for fighting's sake, but I don't mind relatively intense debate even if it's just to explore the point fully.

I'm going to do my best to avoid the "cheap heat" i.e. abortion, gun control, homosexual issues, and the like. I'm SURE some discussion on this will happen, but I'm only going to approach it if I can find a good angle or something that doesn't get discussed often.

So, there's a "why" for doing this again. I'm argumentative, verbose, and instead of ruining other people's blogs, I'll just make a mess of mine. If you like it, join in. If not, hey, I'm not destroying your area, at least! LOL!

I hope you enjoy your stay, though, and I hope that you jump in with me. You never know, it might just be fun.


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