Thoughts on Sandy Hook

17 Dec
December 17, 2012

Like most people I read in horror as the first reports came in about the tragedy at Sandy Hook. That someone would go in and murder children is truly the epitome of evil. Yet even as I saw the news blasts come across my phone, there was the small part in the back of my head that knew what the political response would be. Why? Why do I have to even think about that? Fortunately, Sebastian was nice enough to go into my mind and write this post.

The money quote:

Yes, wouldn’t it be nice, if as gun owners, we could just experience grief and sorrow along with the rest of the country. Instead we have that impending feeling of doom over what the media, the politicians, and the people in society who don’t much care for civilian gun ownership, are going to do to our lives, liberty and often times livelihood. What if we could go through something like this, without worrying about how much we’re going to be the scapegoats?

And just in case we, as gun owners, thought maybe we wouldn’t be put in the crucible again to defend our rights, John Richardson was nice enough to compile the opportunists’ quotes.

On our own side, there have been calls to arm the teachers and to lock down the schools even tighter. While I would support letting concealed carry holders carry on school grounds, are we going to force teachers to carry weapons? If we have the freedom to choose to carry weapons, shouldn’t they have the right to choose not to?

The problem is that both sides are responding emotionally to an event that evokes that primal fear in us. As humans, we should be discussing this on a rational basis, not an emotional one. In truth, violence in schools has been on the decline. Nick Gillespie from Reason spells it out fairly well in his article “4 Awful Reactions to Sandy Hook School Shooting – And Thoughts on a Better Response:”

According to data compiled by the National Center for Education Statistics, schools have been getting safer and less violent at least over the past couple of decades… During the school year of 1992-93, for instance, the number of on-location murders of students and staff at K-12 public schools was 47 (out of population of millions). In 2009-2010 (the latest year for which data is listed), the number was 25. Over the same period, the rate on victimizations per 1,000 students for theft dropped from 101 to 18. For violent crimes, the rate dropped from 53 to 14. And for “serious violent” crimes, the rate dropped from 8 to 4.

Over the next weeks and possibly months, we will be bombarded with theories as we try to grapple with “Why?” At the very end, it came down to one evil person who decided to commit atrocities. I don’t know how, or if, we could ever stop this sort of thing from happening.

Zombie Strike Part 6 Chapter 61

17 Dec
December 17, 2012

In Chapter 61, Mateo and his team are under attack by a zombie horde. The team falls back into the town’s City Hall building. Upon further investigation, the team finds the Truth’s subterranean facility.

Narrator: Kenn Blanchard

Story: Derek Ward

This episode was originally broadcast on the Urban Shooter podcast.

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Badmoon Rising – Chapter 14 – The Only Constant is Change

16 Dec
December 16, 2012

I woke up from my nap in the back of the Suburban as Nick pulled into a grocery store. I shook the cobwebs from my mind and pushed through the immediate flash of longing pain. If this was what was going to happen every time I woke up, I wasn’t sure how long I could go on. Nick looked back at me with that same disturbing sympathetic look. I shot him a challenging look, but his face didn’t change.

“Let’s go, Ranger, we need provisions,” Nick said, nodding to the grocery store.

“If Ranger wants to stay here, I’ll go,” Hangman offered with a note of confused sympathy in his voice. I grimaced and started to move. I was getting that vibe that Nick wanted to get me alone for a bit. Usually, it was because Nick wanted me to tone down my tactics. Nick always thought that I did things a little too much on the spectacular side. This time, however, I didn’t think that Nick wanted to talk about my tactics. There was something else on his mind, and the only clue was that sympathetic look on his face. Read more →

Friday Quote – 12/14/12

14 Dec
December 14, 2012
I try to deny myself any illusions or delusions, and I think that this perhaps entitles me to try and deny the same to others, at least as long as they refuse to keep their fantasies to themselves.

Christopher Hitchens, writer, commenter, and renown atheist and skeptic

I am surrounded in my daily life by some very devout Christians. If they want to believe in an all-powerful deity and beg for his intercession in their lives, so be it. I think they’re wrong and foolish and missing out on the true grandeur of the natural world, but they are competent adults. Generally, my relationship with them is more important than my activism. That is, until one starts to preach to me. If they are not dissuaded by my stating that I’m an atheist and don’t want to broach the topic, well then the battle is joined. I will feel no compunction about attempting to shatter their illusions.

I’m less restrained with people who I don’t need to keep a strong relationship. These would include street proselytizers, salespeople pushing junk, and loud-mouthed fellow customers in line. (This may have happened on occasion.)

H/t to the Brother for finding the quote for me

Zombie Strike Part 6 Chapter 60

14 Dec
December 14, 2012

In Chapter 60, Collin and his team deal with the super-gollum. An inured Collin then is discovered by the Truth sorcerer, Alan.

Narrator: Kenn Blanchard

Story: Derek Ward

This episode was originally broadcast on the Urban Shooter podcast.

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Whose money is it anyway?

12 Dec
December 12, 2012

The UK Parliament and Exchequer has their panties in a bunch that some corporations are not sending them as much money as the Queen’s government thinks these corporations should. And worse of all, it’s all legal. How much cash are we talking about? So much cash that high-level representatives from these corporations are being dragged in for a public flogging questioning. After all, it’s immoral for corporations to utilize legal means to keep their tax bills as low as possible.

The outrage from the British government is ludicrous. First and foremost, no corporation, like any individual, has a moral imperative to pay one pound more in tax than is legally required. Second, the corporations will bring more value to subjects of the British government by keeping it rather than following the dictates of the British Governments extortionists.

The outrage is also a bit hypocritical considering the Brits’ solicitation for the French wealthy to relocate in order to escape the new French taxes.

The last point is that the politicians seem to forget most often. Corporations do not pay taxes. The firms may write the checks, but the funds to pay the tax bill came from the firms’ customers and investors. Higher taxes on the corporations means either higher prices to the consumers and/or lower dividends to the investors to put money into the hands of the British government. The same government that says higher taxes and more government spending is austerity.

Can we please leave the money in the hands of individuals and firms that actually understand economics?

Zombie Strike Part 6 Chapter 59

12 Dec
December 12, 2012

In Chapter 59, Mateo and his team continue to advance to the town’s center while dealing with zombies. When reaching the center, the team is faced with an unusual minion.

Narrator: Kenn Blanchard

Story: Derek Ward

This episode was originally broadcast on the Urban Shooter podcast.

Play

Zombie Strike Part 6 Chapter 58

10 Dec
December 10, 2012

In Chapter 58, Collin and his team are spread out. He must gather it back together under fire.

Narrator: Kenn Blanchard

Story: Derek Ward

This episode was originally broadcast on the Urban Shooter podcast.

Play

15 Questions to Atheists From A Christian – Answers from The Brother

08 Dec
December 8, 2012

LabRat from the Atomic Nerds put up this post. Apparently a blog called Loving Christ With Your Mind “asked” 15 questions to atheists about why they were atheists in light of these questions. Most of these questions were either a form of logical fallacy or based on a logical fallacy. I mailed the article to my brother (aka The Brother / NetThrall) and expected to answer the list next week. (I really needed the weekend off). Fortunately, The Brother sent me his answers. The Brother and I have very similar views on most of these questions. On those we don’t, I’ve included my comments. Read more →

Friday Quote – 12/7/12

07 Dec
December 7, 2012

“Four things have almost invariably followed the imposition of controls to keep prices below the level they would reach under supply and demand in a free market: (1) increased use of the product or service whose price is controlled, (2) Reduced supply of the same product or service, (3) quality deterioration, (4) black markets.”

Thomas Sowell

Many of my readers may think I’m putting this quote up because of Obamacare and socialized medicine in general. While applicable, the two real reasons is because I’ve been listening to Dr. Sowell’s Basic Economics and because I was taking with one of my co-workers about price gouging during an emergency.

Some of the people I talk to are surprised when I tell them that there is no such thing as price gouging and oppose laws that try to dictate prices, even during an “emergency.” If anything, those prices keep “scarce resources” (as Dr. Sowell refers to them in his works) available for those who truly value them. Most people wouldn’t pay $20 for a can of milk, but a mother of an infant in the middle of a disaster will. By charging that high price, the scarce resource is held for the person who highly values it. Also, the high profits from such trade invites competition into the market, which will bring down the price.

“That’s nice, but what about those who can’t afford those demand-driven prices and are in desperate need?” This is where I veer sharply away from the objectivists. I do believe in charity. I do believe this is where focused non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can have their biggest impact by making sure that resources that are scarce within the emergency area are brought in from areas with surpluses and directed to those who can’t obtain them.

I’m also a believer in protecting scavengers during an emergency situation. People trying to find supplies in abandoned stores should not be prosecuted. By supplies, I mean items essential to survival. Coming out of a Best Buy with four flat screen TVs is not scavenging. That’s looting. You shoot looters, you help scavengers. At some point, I’m willing to compromise on property rights to save lives. I’m human, I’m allowed some mental contradictions.