An Individual Right: A Blast from the Past

With recent events, some folk have been trotting out the argument that the 2nd Amendment is a “collective right” or one that exists only so that the States can arm State government troops (“Militia” as these folk would have it).  They argue that the Heller and McDonald decisions (the first confirming RKBA as an individual right, the second incorporating it on the individual States) is wrong.

This fails on several grounds.

First, there’s the grammatical:

A Well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a Free State, the right of the people, to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

“Look,” says the person advocating limitations on RKBA, “it says “Well-regulated militia.”

Let’s consider a different sentence, exact same structure but using different nouns:

Sweetened-condensed milk, being necessary for a good Key Lime Pie, the right of the farmers, to keep and raise cows, shall not be infringed.

Anyone want to argue that this statement means that the right to keep and raise cows is being confirmed on sweetened condensed milk?  No?  Then no more does the Second limit the right only to the Militia.

Next we have the problem of definitions.  Much is made of the term “well-regulated Militia” and consider that only the National Guard qualifies.  However, as I demonstrate elsewhere, to the people who wrote and ratified the 2nd Amendment, the Militia was the whole of the people capable of bearing arms.  Back then it would have been all white males between the ages of 17 and 45.  Today, we’d drop the limitations on race and sex (particularly as the Secretary of Defense has just directed [ed:  as of the original writing] that women be permitted in all combat fields in the military.  So the Militia is the people and the people are the militia.

The Militia Acts of 1792 underscore that.  The requirement that every household–every household–be required to keep arms and a certain amount of ammo and other supplies on hand simply emphasized that the militia meant the whole of the people, all of the people, not just those drawing government paychecks.

Then there’s the historical argument.  The idea that the 2nd is only limited to government militias being a “new” interpretation is preposterous. Consider the Dred Scott decision. On giving the reasons why they did not extend full citizenship to “The Negro Race”: If they did it would, among other things, grant to them the right “and to keep and carry arms wherever they went.”  You can think that Dred Scott was a bad decision.  I do.  But it is utterly clear that at the time of the decision the court considered RKBA to be an individual right, not one limited to government troops.  That’s 1857. Hardly something recent.

It’s the idea that the 2nd only limits RKBA to government bodies that’s the new one. It first springs up in the Miller decision where the weapon in question–a short barreled (i.e. “sawed off”) shotgun was considered regulatable because the court did not have “legal notice” that said weapon had a militia utility.  Note that this wasn’t a question of Miller (who was not present, having died before the case came before the Supreme Court, and only the government’s side was represented) being in a government militia, but whether the weapon was militarily useful (it was–such weapons had been in use in World War 1 as “trench brooms”, but with only the government side presented there was nobody to present such evidence to the court, thus no “legal notice”).  Repeating the lie, and yes it’s a lie, otherwise over and over again doesn’t make the lie true.

Then there’s the logical argument.  Article One of the Constitution includes among other things:

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

The Constitution already gave the government power to arm its own troops, including the militia.  The idea that we’d need an item in the Bill of Rights to give them the same power they already have is simply preposterous.  Nobody with any intelligence and knowledge of the actual Constitution would think it were necessary.  And the folk who wrote the Bill of Rights were certainly people of intelligence and very much did know the Constitution.

Today, the only question is, are the people who make such claims stupid enough to believe it, or are they lying and think we’re stupid enough to believe them?  And while “both” is possible, there is no third option.

Without question, and from its inception, the Second Amendment confirms an individual right to keep and bear arms.


A snippet

Walking slowly with legs deeply bent, Keven crept to the top of the ridge and peered over.

The far side of the ridge dropped steeply ending in a narrow beach.

Another inlet?  Keven thought.

A two masted ship lay half-wrecked just offshore from  the beach. The ship had two masts and resembled the form popular in Keven’s grandfather’s day, when Aerioch was just learning to sail the deep seas, well away from land.

Several figures milled before the boat.  They walked upright but Keven could see that they were not men.  Coarse white hair covered their bodies. They held spears clumsily in misformed hands.  Their faces stretched forward as long snouts and horns curved back from just above their eyes.

One of the creatures, one of the kinmar, dashed into the water brandishing his spear.  Keven saw movement on the deck of the ship. Someone stood behind a half-collapsed crate and hurled something.  Keven could not see what.

The kinmar ducked the missile and backed to the shore.

Another kinmar ran into the water.  Another thrown missile, also ducked.  This kinmar, however, did not back away.  He continued forward until he stood waist deep at the side of the ship, safely shielded from any projectiles from the ship.

Another kinmar sprinted, mimicking the actions of the previous.  A moment later two kinmar huddled next to the ship.

The third did not duck in time.  His head rocked back as something struck him.  He fell, floundering into the water, and lost his grip on his spear.  The kinmar scrambled back to shore as more missiles rained around him until he had evidently passed the range to which the person on the ship could throw.

Once on shore the kinmar grabbed a spear from one of the three remaining kinmar, turned and shook the spear as he bleated at the ship.  The kinmar then said something that Keven could not hear to the one from whom he had taken the spear and pointed to where the spear he had lost floated in the water.

The second kinmar bleated back only to be struck alongside the snout with the shaft of his own spear.  The second kinmar splashed into the water after the spear.

Keven counted more carefully.  Six. There were six kinmar.

While Keven had been watching this altercation, another kinmar made it to the side of the ship.

Keven let his gaze rove over the ship.  He saw no sign of anyone else, just the one individual hiding behind the crate.

Four kinmar at the side of the ship now with two remaining at the shore.

Keven looked down and notice that his own hands, of their own accord, had drawn an arrow and fitted it to the bowstring.  He smiled grimly. His father was probably going to kill him if the kinmar did not do it first. Still, that was an Aeriochi ship and the person on it might well be Aeriochi.

“And we do not leave our own behind.”

With those words, Keven stood as the first of the Kinmar began to climb over the railing of the ship.

He drew, the tension of the string of the unfamiliar design of bow feeling strange beneath his fingers.  He sighted and let fly. The arrow flew, almost too fast to track, to bury itself deep in the hull of the ship next to one of the kinmar.

The kinmar climbing the rail scrambled onto the ship while the others turned to face up the slope.  The two on the shore began running in Keven’s direction while the ones in the water splashed shoreward.  Keven drew and let fly two more times. One arrow missed. The other buried itself deep in the thigh of one of the kinmar.

Keven tossed the bow behind him, swept off the quiver, and drew his sword, giving his body a small twist to pull the last half-hand of scabbard off the tip of the sword.

He did not wait for the kinmar to reach him, instead he charged, sweeping aside the spear point as he closed with the kinmar.  He noted in passing that the point of the spear was sharpened bone. With the reverse stroke, the tip of his sword slashed across the kinmar’s throat.  Blood gouted.

Keven pushed past the dying kinmar and continued toward the shore.  As he passed the arrow-wounded kinmar, he drove a snap-thrust into it’s side, letting his momentum pull the sword free.

Keven charged the three kinmar.  There was no coordination in their actions as they charged back at him.  By accident, their movement formed a rough echelon, the one to the right leading.  Keven shifted to the right. He closed, again sweeping the tip of the kinmar’s spear aside.  He brought his sword up and drew in a slicing motion just before his body collided with the kinmar.  With the force of their momentum and the draw cut, the sword cut clean through the kinmar’s neck. His head popped free of his shoulders.

Keven dropped under the next kinmar’s thrust.  He half pivoted swinging the sword in an arc that would have made his old weapons master frown.  The sword bit deep into the kinmar’s back. Keven wrenched the sword free from half-cleaved vertebrae as the kinmar dropped, its lower body lifeless.

Keven lunged upward as the next kinmar neared, Keven’s sword deflecting the kinmar’s spear upward.  Keven lifted his left foot and kicked forward with his heel, catching the kinmar in the pit of the stomach.  The kinmar fell backward, gasping and trying to breath. Keven did not give him time to recover but instead drove the tip of his sword between the kinmar’s ribs.

On the ship, the kinmar faced someone throwing things.  From this closer vantage Keven could see the pots, billets of wood, and culinary implements that rained onto the kinmar.

For his part the kinmar held his arms in front of his face and waded slowly through this hail of missiles, approaching inexorably to the slight figure that dared not back away from his supply of ammunition.

Calling on the twins to grant him fleetness, Keven sprinted.  Cursing, he saw that he would not make it before the kinmar reached the other.  He urged his feet to drive him still faster.

Keven’s feet just splashed into the water of the shore when the kinmar stabbed forward with the spear.  The other leaped backward to avoid the thrust but stumbled and fell.

Keven was knee deep in the water when the kinmar stabbed downward, out of Keven’s sight.  Something jerked the spear out of the kinmar’s hands. It pounced, dropping out of Keven’s sight as well.

Keven reached the ship and scrambled over the railing.  He dashed up the tilted deck and rounded the crate.

The kinmar and the other lay on the deck in a pool of blood.  Keven raised his sword to finish the kinmar then paused. The kinmar lay unmoving.  Keven noticed the hilt of a dagger protruding from its side.

A leg, protruding from under the kinmar, kicked.

“Get this thing off me!”

Keven’s mouth fell open as he lowered the sword.  That voice had been decidedly…feminine.

Sexbots are Going to be Big: Invest Now (Part 2)

A couple years ago I wrote the “Part 1” of this.  Some people didn’t get it.  No, I was not saying that “sexbots” were a desireable alternative to a relationship with an actual human being.  Rather I was warning that things were being pushed in such a direction that nothing a woman could do for a man in the bedroom would justify the risk of what she could later do to him in the courtroom.  I still see certain ongoing trends continuing alarmingly in that direction and some of the “pushback” seems to be missing the point.

For example, there’s this:


For years now I’ve been hearing that expecting a woman to do any of those things, let alone all of them, is “sexist” and bad.  It’s a bit late to be using them as bait now.  But, let’s leave that aside.  Let’s add a few more to the list:

Can a sex doll decide after the fact that it regretted sex and that said regret means that it really didn’t consent regardless of what it said at the time (and the partner had every reason to believe) and thus the man, who had every reason to believe he was engaging in consensual sex with a willing partner, is now a rapist worthy of having his life ruined?

Can a sex doll have another man’s child and get you to pay child support for said child, with the knowing agreement of the judge?

Can a sex doll, in a disagreement, make false reports to the police and the threats of continuing such reports as leverage to get its way (where a string of such calls is taken as probable cause of ones guilt, not evidence that someone with a grudge is calling in false reports)?

Can a sex doll do the same thing only with the threat being a call to CPS, when the disagreement involves children?

Can a sex doll require you to spend thousands of dollars in lawyer fees and court costs if you decide things are completely irreconcilable with the sex doll and you need to be quit of it?

Can a sex doll require you to pay it a fee toward its maintenance for life (or until it finds another provider) once you do decide to get rid of it?

In short, can a sex doll put you at legal hazard for your life and livelihood, threatening you with imprisonment if you don’t comply?

Some of those are hypothetical although things people are actively pushing.  Others are already a reality.

The law doesn’t support all of those yet, but law is downstream of culture and the culture war is currently ongoing in full fury.  And entirely too many people are entirely too dismissive of it, unwilling to see the threat therein.  As John Stuart Mill wrote (often misattributed to Edmund Burke), “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.”

So, Sexbots are going to be big.  Invest now.

Stop. Just…stop. A Blast from the Past. (Slightly updated)

I recently saw a blog post over on IO9 about 10 scientific ideas that scientists wish people wouls top using (incorrectly).  They missed my personal pet peeve–the use of quantum theory, badly understood or not understood at all, to supposedly explain new-agey magic (of the wizard and witch kind rather than the stage type) or psychic phenomena.

In quantum mechanics observation changes the thing observed, but that doesn’t mean you can use that to cast spells that do whatever folk claim to do with magic.  Here’s how it works:

Imagine you’re in a dark room.  There are objects in that room.  You have a big pile of baseballs and want to know where the objects are in the room.  You can throw the baseballs in various directions.  In certain directions the baseballs bounce back.  When they do, you know they hit some object.  You can then use things like the speed and direction in which you threw the ball and how long it took to bounce back to tell you in what direction and how far the object is.  Throw enough balls and you can get some idea of the size and shape of the objects.

Now, all the objects in the room are on casters.  When you hit them with a thrown ball, they move.  If they’re big and heavy they don’t move much.  If they’re small and light they move a lot.  Observing them, by throwing these balls at them, is going to affect them.

Consider the balls themselves.  The size of the balls limits what you can “see” with them.  Anything smaller than the ball itself you might see that it’s there, but you won’t be able to tell it’s size and shape.  And when you hit it with that ball it’s more likely to go sailing across the room and you only know where it was, not where it is now (after it got hit).  If you want to see smaller objects, you need smaller balls.  Now, this is the tricky part.  There’s a rule.  The smaller the “ball” the heavier it has to be.  That’s backwards from what we usually think of things, but to describe quantum effects you need that rule.

So you can see smaller objects by using smaller “balls”, but the result is that you’re going to hit the objects harder with those heavier balls and knock them just that much farther and faster away.

This, right here, is “observation changes the thing observed.”  The balls are whatever we use to look at something, whether sound waves, quanta (discrete packets) of light, electrons in an electron microscope, or anything else.  We “shine” the light or whatever on the object we wish to see (throw balls at it) and look at either what’s reflected or what passes through it to “see” the object.

At a basic level, when it comes to light the size of the “balls” (the wavelength of the light) is given by the following formula:

Eλ = hc

E = energy
λ = the wavelength (size of the “balls”)
h = Planck’s Constant a really, really, really small number. (Okay, it’s
6.62606957 × 10−34 joule∙second, but at this level what you need to know is that it’s really small.)
c = the speed of light.

For “particles” like electrons that have mass, the equation is a bit different:

λp = h

Here p = momentum.
You can think of momentum as the ability to impart motion in things.

for the momentum of massless particles (like light) we have (simplified):

p = E/c = h/λ
Note that momentum is inversely related to wavelength, the size of the “balls”.

In both cases, to get a small wavelength (small “balls” to look at small stuff) you need to have either a high energy (light) or high momentum (particles with mass).  Heavier balls that you throw harder.  And, when you throw heavier balls harder at the thing you’re observing, you knock it around more.

That’s “observation affects the thing observed.” It’s not magic.  It’s the simple fact that to observe something you essentially throw balls at it.  They’re just really, really tiny balls (see that Planck’s Constant).  Something like this, if you wanted to “observe” an electron:


And the effect is only important on really, really small things, things like electrons, sometimes atoms themselves.  Electrons and atoms are very small compared to the energies of light, of “photons” and their momentum, that would be small enough, have a short enough wavelength to see them.  Thus, they get moved by that light.  The observation affects the thing observed.

Larger things can be observed by longer wavelengths, by much less energetic photons.  And are not, then, appreciably changed by the observation.  To appreciably affect them, you’d have to throw a whole lot more energy and momentum at them, far far more than necessary for mere observation.

This analogy only scratches the surface.  There’s a lot more I could do. (Quantum tunneling:  the balls are “squishy” and can sometimes get through holes that are nominally too small for them.) But that will be enough for now, I think.

“If you think X is not a right”

So there was this claim:


Never mind Joshua’s response for the moment.  Consider the original claim.

The inherent problem is that implicit Clara Sorrenti’s claims is that a “right” is something that someone (usually “the government”) must provide for you.  That is arrant nonsense.

Something being a right simply means that no one can legitimately forcibly take it from you. It does not mean that you can force others, under threat of violence (which is what government is), to provide it for you.
Some things might be justifiable to have government use its license to use force to do/provide, but not because they’re “rights”.  I have argued before that some small level of government is actually necessary if ones goal is to maximize liberty.

But to provide these things?  No.  Let’s put it another way.

Requiring “government” to provide these things mean you are willing to use force (for that is what government is–the license to use force to accomplish certain ends) to make other people provide them to you.  You are forcing other people to labor for you, not in exchange for mutually agreed remuneration but simply to provide what you want with threat of violence for refusal.

There is a term for that.  So:

If you believe that other people should be forced to provide you with housing, you are a would be slave owner and evil.

If you believe that other people should be forced to provide you with health care, you are a would be slave owner and evil.

If you believe that other people should be forced to provide you with education, you are a would be slave owner and evil.

Don’t be evil.

“Don’t you care?”

There’s been another school shooting (read:  another active shooter in an ostensibly gun-free zone).  Expect the usual suspects to come out, waving bloody shirts, claiming that we “don’t care” about dead kids when we resist yet more restrictions on the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

Well I, for one, do care.  But it doesn’t stop there.  That’s not the only thing I care about.

I also care about the young wife, now a widow, because your newly wedded husband was mugged and murdered by three thugs with knives who not only robbed and killed him, but carved him up so badly that she had to have a closed casket funeral.

I care about the daughter, now fatherless, because more thugs beat her daddy to death with pipes.  In his case, at least, they were able to clean up the corpse well enough that she could say goodbye at the funeral before his burial.

I care about the young mother, who cannot stand the touch of a male, any male including her husband and son, because of severe PTSD from the beating and rape she suffered.

I care about the eight year old boy who can’t understand why his mother won’t hug him any more and wonders what he did wrong.  He’s told it’s not his fault but deep inside he’ll always wonder.

I care about the 800,000 (low end of various studies on the subject) to 3 million (high end of various studies) people who go home safely, who are not mugged or raped or murdered, every year because they were armed for their own protection.

I oppose restrictions on RKBA not because I don’t care, but because I do.  I care about the weak and helpless of the world, the people on whom violent criminals choose to prey.  I care about their families, their loved ones, who deserve better than to be left bereft because those they care about were rendered unable to defend themselves against someone stronger, or coming in groups, or armed with weapons that rely on strength and sheer ruthlessness.

And the victims of that school shooting?  I care about them too.  That’s why I oppose the very idea of “gun free zones”, which folk like the shooters take as “soft targets where they can rack up a large body count.” The shooters are crazy.  They are evil.  They are not stupid.  That’s why they go where the victims cannot shoot back.

The facts are clear.  Armed citizens at the site of active shooter events save lives.  And the claims about the armed citizens “just making things worse” leading to more deaths from folk caught in the crossfire turn out to be false as well.

Stripping the adults present at places like schools of the ability to arm themselves for the defense of themselves and their charges does not make the children safer.  Just the opposite.  It’s like hanging a “free eats” sign in front of a starving crowd.

More restrictions on the law abiding is not the answer.

Freedom is.

David Hogg is at it again.

This guy, in an effort to try to extend his fifteen minutes, just keeps spouting nonsense.  This time it was a Washington Examiner article which cites him as saying “You’re a terrible shot if you need an AR-15 to defend yourself.”

As usual, Hogg doesn’t know what he’s talking about. That’s a given. But for folk who aren’t clear and yet are still “teachable” let’s go into things a bit.

First, one of the things that happens when a person is in genuine fear for their life is that a whole lot of neuromuscular things happen. The old “fight of flight” reaction (actually a lot more complex than that but it will do for the moment). Your body prepares for maximum effort to either run or to fight. Now, one of the effects this has is to trade off things like fine motor control for strength, speed, and relative insensitivity to pain–all things that to our ancestors could make the difference between life or being cave bear chow. However that loss of fine motor control means that when really scared, your marksmanship deteriorates a lot. So even if you are an excellent marksman at the range, where the targets don’t shoot back, you’re not going to be able to equal that performance when faced with a real threat. (This is also why “shoot to wound” is nonsense.) Check out police trainer Massad Ayoob’s book “Stressfire” for an in-depth look at this.

Second, bad guys don’t just come one at a time. Case after case we see multiple people breaking into someone’s home. You can take out one only to have the next get you. Unlike the police who have backup on call, who can wait until they have overwhelming force before confronting the bad guys, all you’ve got is yourself and what you can grab quickly in the heat of the moment.

Third, while in the movies when the good guys shoot the bad guys one shot is all it takes, that isn’t how the real world works. You can mortally wound the bad guy–put a bullet right through his heart (but see point one above) so he’s essentially dead on his feet–but that doesn’t mean he’s stopped. “The dead man’s ten seconds” is a concept that goes back at least to the Civil War. A person can be shot, essentially a walking corpse, but they’re still a threat until they finally go down. Maybe they’ll spend that “dead man’s ten seconds” looking down at the hole in the body and regretting the life choices that brought them to that point. Or maybe they’re they’ll use that time in a rage-driven frenzy which, unless you can give them something else to think about (like other holes in their body) can lead to them taking you with them.

These reasons are why the police want weapons like the AR15 (and it’s full-auto cousins the M16 and M4) available for themselves, this despite what I said about backup and most of the time the ability to wait until they have overwhelming force before choosing to engage. Ordinary folk face the exact same threats the police do, and so so first with only what they have on hand and can grab quickly.