Surly Curmudgeon

   The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort.
-- Robert A. Heinlein
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    Monday, January 30, 2006


    Today in Guns

    Here's a quick little review of Kimber's 84M SVT. Might be nice if it were in a bigger caliber, but then it probably wouldn't be a varmint rifle.

    In other news, there's some wailing going on about the loss of Winchester, with hints of others soon to follow. This particular article points to the probable cause, if only vaguely:

    "Companies in the eastern part of the United States are overburdened with their operating costs, and they're no longer competitive," Shepherd said. "It's a tragedy in the firearms industry."

    I've always been mystified by the continued production of guns in states like Connecticut and Massachussetts, where they hate guns, gun owners, and gun makers. Move out west, people! We still like guns out here.

    The US armed forces are going back to the .45, after finally giving up on the 9mm.

    There have been constant complaints about the lesser (compared to the .45) hitting power of the 9mm.

    20 years of combat experience shows what the gun magazines have been saying for longer: 9mm lacks stopping power compared to the .45. Sorry, 9mm fans, can't beat the evidence.

    Finally, here's one that I'm sure all of my fellow male pro-gunners can relate to. You're making the argument for gun ownership and carrying, and some stupid crap-for-brains starts in with the "compensating for your penis" argument. Well, now we get to see the argument reversed, in this editorial (by a chick, no less). It concerns the inner workings of the anti-gun male:

    He often accuses men with guns of "compensating for something." The truth is quite the reverse. After all, how is he supposed to feel knowing there are men out there who aren't intimidated by the big bad inanimate villain? How is he to feel in the face of adolescent boys who have used the family gun effectively in defending the family from an armed intruder? So if he can't touch a gun, he doesn't want other men to be able to either. And to achieve his ends, he'll use the only weapon he knows how to manipulate: the law.

    OK, that's a cheap shot, right? Of course it is, just like when it's used against pro-gun men. But here's the part I find most disturbing, because I've actually heard this very argument coming from an anti-gun male as if it was a good thing:

    The very ownership of a gun for defense of home and family implies some assertiveness and a certain self-reliance. But if our man kept a gun in the house, and an intruder broke in and started attacking his wife in front of him, he wouldn't be able to later say, "He had a knife--there was nothing I could do!" Passively watching in horror while already trying to make peace with the violent act, scheduling a therapy session and forgiving the perpetrator before the attack is even finished wouldn't be the option it otherwise is.

    The idea fills me with such rage that I can't even express it. STAND BY and watch your woman get brutalized because the bad guy has a knife, and you're afraid to pick up a gun? What. The. Hell.

    She wraps it up with this nice little summary:

    In short, he is a man begging for subjugation. He longs for its promise of equality in helplessness. Because only when that strange, independent alpha breed of male is helpless along with him will he feel adequate. Indeed, his freedom lies in this other man's containment.

    I honestly wonder how such men can exist, and not simply suicide out of self-loathing.

    Posted by Tom, 1/30/2006 6:49:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Thursday, January 26, 2006


    What could possibly go wrong?

    NJIT implements SmartCampus people-tracking program

    Here, let me take a shot at answering my own question, and I won't even bring up the usual "big brother" worries: All technology, especially wireless technology, will eventually be hacked. Now look at this from the point of view of a predator... it's a wonderful tool to see when one of the little urchins has gotten separated from the main herd. Your mind can fill in the rest.

    Posted by Tom, 1/26/2006 7:04:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Monday, January 23, 2006


    Economics for Real People

    This is it. This is the book for people who want to understand economics from a layperson's point of view. Get it, read it, learn it, love it.

    Get your copy here.

    Posted by Tom, 1/23/2006 7:23:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Sunday, January 22, 2006


    Through CenterDigit-colored glasses

    For all those mystified by my opposition to our criminal "justice" system, the State in general, and so forth, I wanted to give you a simple explanation of how I evaluate the world in terms of politics.

    Basically, the State is not an agent of sanctification. No action, which would be immoral for an individual to commit, can possibly be made moral just because the individual wears a badge. It is not moral for me to steal, therefore it is not moral for the State or its agents to steal. It is not moral for me to kill (except in self-defense or defense of innocents), therefore it is not moral for the State to do so. And so forth.

    If I hold a gun to your head and demand your money, you would call that wrong, and rightly so. If I had a group of my friends with me, it would still be wrong. If I gathered every person I'd ever met and brought them with me, it would still be wrong. Even if I promise to give the money to charity, or do something with it that you might benefit from, it's still wrong for me to steal it from you. But if I'm wearing a badge, you call it taxes.

    Going the other way, if it is right to hunt down a man who has committed some grave misdeed, then kill or imprison him long after the time of the misdeed, then the term "vigilante", as it is used today, is nonsensical. Anything the State can do morally, an individual can likewise do morally. If the individual is immoral in copying the exact actions of an agent of the State, then the State's agent must also be immoral in performing those actions.

    Posted by Tom, 1/22/2006 8:36:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Saturday, January 21, 2006


    Cronyism: Alive and Well

    I normally don't sound "calls to arms", being more interested in the philosophical side of things, but this is one that deserves our attention: Broadcast Flag is back, this time it covers iPods and PSPs, too

    The Senate has introduced the "Digital Content Protection Act of 2006," a bill that will create "Broadcast Flags" for all digital radio and television, leading to FCC oversight of all new digital media technologies from iPods and PSPs to TVs and DVD recorders.

    Under the DCPA proposal, digital media technologies would be restricted to using technologies that had been certified by the FCC as being not unduly disruptive to entertainment industry business-models.


    In other words, the industry is too lazy to innovate, so they want government to protect them from competition, and keep us all locked in a digital dark ages of their devising (I love alliteration). Know what happens when corporations get to call the shots on crap like this? Nothing, that's what. People in say, the eastern half of Norman Oklahoma (population ~100,000), can't get DSL or cable internet, not because it's technically unfeasible to give it to them, but because Cox Cable and SBC telephone have managed to get government to prevent any competition from entering "their" turf, and they really don't feel like providing those services. Meanwhile, people in Blanchard (population 2,816) are being provided BOTH services by their local cooperatives, which operate in the market space left empty by those businesses more concerned with government collusion than serving customers.

    How do I know this? I'm living in the former, trying to move to the latter. The new address, unlike the present one, cannot even be located by any of the popular mapping sites (Google, Yahoo, MapQuest, MSN), but I can get high-speed internet there.

    This crap has got to stop.

    Posted by Tom, 1/21/2006 4:00:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Thursday, January 19, 2006


    This stuff really ticks me off

    Crap like this is why I think the 2nd Amendment should be the only concealed weapons license or gun permit we ever need:

    Rebecca had owned the gun since escaping from her husband. She bought it after the required 10-day waiting period and registered it in her name. She knew the police couldn't always be around to protect her. A gun leveled the playing field against a man bigger and stronger than she was. Maybe it would save her from becoming one of the 1,300 people killed in the United States each year in domestic violence attacks.

    One evening last August, Rebecca was making the long drive home from Mill Valley, where she had to drop off some papers for a client. She stopped at an Albertsons supermarket in Half Moon Bay. She paid for her groceries, picked up the shopping bag and her wallet but left her purse at the end of the checkout counter.

    The momentary lapse plunged her into a legal mess that has turned her from victim to criminal. She was arrested for carrying a loaded gun and sentenced last month by a San Mateo County court to 10 days in jail and 18 months' probation. Her conviction means she can no longer possess a gun, and it might jeopardize her participation in the Confidential Address Program.


    God I hate gun control. Now she's helpless unless she wants to break the law. This is what comes from handwringing ninnies and the policies they want to push on the rest of us. If he finds her, she's dead, and you douchebags that pushed for more and more gun control in California are accessories to her murder.

    The author then makes this amazingly boneheaded statement to wrap it all up:

    The law against carrying concealed guns makes good sense. But so many women every year are killed by their abusive boyfriends and husbands. Restraining orders, as we know, can't stop them. The police often can't stop them. I don't know what the solution is. But something's wrong when, in trying to keep herself alive, the terrorized woman becomes the criminal.

    The thing that's wrong is that first sentence, dumbass.

    Posted by Tom, 1/19/2006 7:24:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Wednesday, January 18, 2006


    So many guns, so little money

    Winchester is apparently going out of business, and sadly before I have the spare cash to pick up one of their fine lever-action repeaters. I guess I'll have to settle for my Wild West Guns rebuild of a Marlin Guide Gun.

    Posted by Tom, 1/18/2006 7:23:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Tuesday, January 17, 2006


    Not this crap again...

    The Washington Post is once again calling for a general ban on handguns. The stupidity renders me speechless. Might as well call for a subsidy for rapists and murderers.

    I especially love this part...

    There's an obvious thread here that members of Congress choose not to see: The all-too-free flow of handguns, a warped way of life that cows presidents and members of Congress who ought to recognize that the availability of handguns is murderous. The problem is that Americans own 65 million handguns and the only effective safety measure would be a ban on these made-for-murder weapons.

    ...when it's followed up by this part...

    ...a national ban on the general manufacture, sale and ownership of handguns ought be enacted... it might well save thousands of lives. Handgun exceptions could be made for federal, state and local law enforcement and military agencies...

    There you have it, folks. The Washington Post wants law enforcement and military folks to carry around weapons which, in their own words, are "made-for-murder". In other words, the Washington Post endorses murder by the state.

    Posted by Tom, 1/17/2006 6:48:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Shoot a bad guy for Jesus

    Here's another great take on guns for self-defense and Christianity. It's a bit simpler and easier to read than Larry Pratt's excellent piece, but the point remains the same: the "uberpacifist Jesus" that we've been taught is a LIE. Christians have a Biblical right to defend themselves.

    Posted by Tom, 1/17/2006 6:40:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Thursday, January 12, 2006


    January is Self-Defense Awareness Month

    And what's best for self-defense? Martial arts, right?

    Scott Lawrence is a National Rife Association-certified pistol instructor and an International Defensive Pistol Association competitor. He used to teach a pistol training course in Tahlequah, but the class just didn’t have enough participants to continue.

    Lawrence is also a black belt in Okinawan Karate, Kempo, Jeet Kune Do, Ju Ji Tsu, and Aiki Jitsu (that’s five black belts under his belt).

    ...

    Still, his advise for the most practical and effective self-defense: “Get a concealed carry permit, and know how to shoot your gun.”


    Tahlequah Daily Press

    Obviously, martial arts can help in a lot of situations when a gun just isn't available, or when reaction time is cut to the very razor's edge. But the ultimate power equalizer is a firearm, until we develop personal force fields.

    Mmmmm... personal force field...

    Posted by Tom, 1/12/2006 6:54:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Sunday, January 8, 2006


    Tom's Top Movies, part 2

    ROMANTIC COMEDY
    50 First Dates. This film is memorable to me for one big reason: While the vast majority of films equate love with sex, this one attempts to show true love. In spite of Drew Barrymore's nearly relationship-crippling illness, Adam Sandler falls in love with her and goes out of his way to make life comfortable for her. The result is a heartwarming film that shows love without having to resort to the usual equation.

    The Wedding Singer. Another Barrymore/Sandler pic, but a little more in the predictable vein of romantic comedies (1 person meets another, who is already involved with the wrong person, etc.). Adam Sandler turns in a great performance without having to resort to his usual sophomoric "Canteen Boy"-style humor, though there are a couple of great lines ("once again, things that could have been brought to my attention YESTERDAY!!!"). This movie is worth watching just for Sandler's cover of "You Spin Me Round" during the opening sequence.

    My Best Friend's Wedding. OK, I admit it, I had to be dragged to this movie. I'm not a Julia Roberts fan. But the opening credits literally captivated me, perhaps because the singer was so darn HAWT, and the theme song gives a subtle hint as to where the movie's plot is headed, which is NOT where you expect (thank God). Julia Roberts, Dermot Mulroney, and Cameron Diaz? Meh. Rupert Everett is the star of this show.


    SMALL TOWN
    I call this a genre because I really like the kind of movie that attempts to portray small town/rural life honestly, without all the stupid fears and anxieties that big city people bring to the subject (Deliverance, anyone?).

    Sling Blade. Billy Bob Thornton turns in a masterful performance in this look at life through a very simple-minded man's eyes. He's virtually unrecognizable as compared to his later films, and the movie's tension comes from the fact that the audience is led by their own prejudices to believe that he's going to do something really terrible to his new friend, a young boy named Frank. This is also one of John Ritter's best performances even though the role is small. Dwight Yoakam is PERFECT as the malevolent Doyle.

    A Simple Plan. Billy Bob Thornton co-stars alongside Bill Paxton in this small-town drama, this time about 3 guys who find a lost satchel full of money. I found this movie entrancing the first time, as every step seemed so logical from the characters' point of view, but led them ever-further down the path of evil. The characters are so sympathetic that the movie forces you to examine the limits of your own morality. The scenes are wonderfully wrought, with suspense and tension coming just from what the audience knows that a character doesn't, especially with the sheriff.

    Mystery, Alaska. Initially one might think that this is a sports movie, and while there certainly is an emphasis on sports, it's not the movie. The movie is really about what happens when small town folks meet big city folks, especially when the big city folks are invading the small town. The dismissive contemptuousness that big city types bring with them when they visit, and the defiant pride of small towners who like their way of life, are both on display here. The point is driven home by a character who left Mystery for the big city and drives the invasion, thinking he's doing something beneficial for the poor backwards folks of his hometown.

    Posted by Tom, 1/8/2006 3:13:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Saturday, January 7, 2006


    Tom's Top Movies

    After my top 5 list, I was asked about my favorite movies of all time. These are so wildly different, they're not really rankable against each other, so they're loosely categorized here. My criteria for selecting movies is that I've tried to think of the ones that I could sit down and watch at any given time, without really needing to be "in the mood" to see them. I will omit the top 5 from 2005, in order to give them time to prove themselves.

    ACTION
    Unforgiven. In my opinion, this was Clint Eastwood's best work ever. As a western, it offers a new look at gunfighters, and attempts to show the brutal truth behind the glamorized images of popular "western" cinema. Whether it succeeds or not, I'm not historian enough to say, but I enjoyed it considerably more than the much-ballyhooed Tombstone, which is also good (mostly due to Val Kilmer). It just doesn't rise to the level of "I'll watch it anytime" like Unforgiven does.

    Starship Troopers. I'm at a loss to explain this. I universally despise book adaptations that stray from the script in significant ways, but this is the exception. Robert Heinlein is truly spinning in his grave, but this movie is just so entertaining that I can't help but like it. The performances and presentation are so audaciously over the top that I laugh my head off every time I watch it.

    Grosse Pointe Blank. The main reason I love this movie is because I feel like I went to high school with every character in it. It is also John Cusack at his finest, with Dan Aykroyd playing a great villain. I especially love the scene just before Martin (John Cusack) leaves to go to the reunion, when he's struggling with the decision of whether or not to carry a gun. It feels like a peek directly into the character's soul, and Cusack pulls it off brilliantly.

    COMEDY
    The Princess Bride. This one, I'm sure everyone agrees with. But like Starship Troopers, it's an exception to a rule for me, because I really despise Rob Reiner. The dialogue during the swordfight between Inigo and Wesley gets me rolling every time, as does Wallace Shawn's top-notch portrayal of Vizzini. This movie is a classic that I'll be showing my grandchildren.

    Robin Hood: Men in Tights. Again, not sure why I like this movie so much, but it's hilarious. I love the cameo by Patrick Stewart, and this movie had me crushing on Amy Yasbeck something fierce. It was also great to see Cary Elwes in another action/comedy role.

    Bruce Almighty. I was not a fan of George Burns' Oh God! movies, but this movie in the same vein just reaches something inside me. I love how the basic lesson it teaches is that we are usually our own biggest obstacle to getting what we want. Misplaced pride, prejudice, and ambition do far more to hinder our journey than the effects of outside forces, much as we'd like to hold ourselves blameless when we describe our struggles.

    Yikes, it's getting late. I'll have to do this one in parts.

    Posted by Tom, 1/7/2006 10:48:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Friday, January 6, 2006


    Now this here's just good info

    Tips for buying a used handgun

    Posted by Tom, 1/6/2006 5:39:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Wednesday, January 4, 2006


    The Quick Libertarian Test

    Here's a great blog entry that will let you know if you're a libertarian or not, by way of a hypothetical situation and some question & answer at the end. Yes, I'm actually a libertarian. Yes, I've already stopped voting Republican, several years ago.

    Posted by Tom, 1/4/2006 6:04:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Props

    ...to Joaquin Phoenix, for performing at Folsom Prison for the inmates there, in an homage to Johnny Cash. Showing compassion to the incarcerated is the mark of a real stand-up guy.

    Posted by Tom, 1/4/2006 7:04:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Tuesday, January 3, 2006


    Top 5 Movies of 2005

    The following movies, all released in 2005, are destined to be a part of my DVD collection. Here's my top 5 picks in order:

    1. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: What can I say? It's a faithful rendering of one of the classics of fantasy/Christian literature. Peter's coming-of-age story is especially moving, the special effects are great, and Aslan is truly impressive.

    2. Serenity: It should come as no surprise that a libertarian-themed science fiction movie makes the top 5. The surprise here is that it's not #1. That says something about the one that beat it.

    3. Unleashed: Libertarian themes. Christian themes. Morgan Freeman. Need I say more?

    4. Cinderella Man: Who can resist an underdog story, especially when it's true? It's difficult to imagine a more moving example of everyday manhood than Jim Braddock's fight to keep his family together and provide for them, even at the risk of his own life.

    5. Batman Begins: There have been many before, but this is the only Batman movie that shows the human side of the hero, and makes him a truly interesting character to watch. Previously, the only scenes worth watching were some of Michael Keaton's in the original back in 1989, but the overall picture failed to even approach what happened in this one.


    Posted by Tom, 1/3/2006 7:18:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Monday, January 2, 2006


    Meh

    Yes, I know it's been a while. I've been busy, and I don't have a lot to say just yet.

    Posted by Tom, 1/2/2006 9:54:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...