Some Musings on the Ice Follies.

Went to the ice rink for public skate.  For various reasons it was a relatively short session.  I didn’t get to do a lot of technique practice because the rink was a bit too crowded, with a lot of kids (at least one party) and since the big practice I’ve been doing is backward skating, I didn’t figure it would be safe.  If there was a collision and I landed on one of those kids, well, I’m not little so there would have been nothing left but a red spot.

So I mostly did the skating in circles bit.

Out of the about 50 minutes that my daughter and I were there I spent about forty of them on the ice and skating.  I needed a short break about ten minutes in to let my feet recover.  The arch issues I have aren’t going away and while my feet have adapted a bit (and the skates got broken in) it’s just going to be an issue.  A couple of other short breaks to catch my breath but I did most of that time actually skating.  And that’s a big thing.

You see, I can remember, not that long ago (earlier this year in fact) when circling the rink five times, with breaks every half-lap, was an accomplishment to be proud of.  I can remember when two were a breakthrough for me.  And now, just a few months later, I’m skating around for forty minutes with only a few short breaks (hey, got to cut this 58 year old body some slack).

I first learned to skate when I was 18.  For various reasons I was living in Phoenix Arizona, crashing with friends while I tried to find work while still attending my last year of High School.  That didn’t work out and I ended up having to go back to Ohio but that’s another story.  In any case there was an ice rink that the friends I was staying with went to regularly.  It was there that I learned to skate.  I was purely self taught.  I didn’t do too bad considering.  I learned to skate forward, two foot and one foot glides.  Most of the people at the rink didn’t do a proper stop.  Some did hockey stops (my friends did) but not many.  Mostly they just dragged the toe picks of one skate to stop, which is strongly frowned on most places I’ve skated since (not like there are a lot of them).  I started working on a T-stop:

I could do forward crossovers pretty well:

 

Indeed, my friends and I would sometimes play “tag” on the ice.  That was strictly against rink rules but…teenagers, what can I say.  My friends skated on hockey skates.  I used figure skates.  Now, they were faster than I was, with more acceleration, but using those crossovers, I could turn inside them.  I’d catch them at the ends where they were forced to turn.

But there were things I did not learn.  I didn’t learn the “swizzles” I discussed in early “Ice Follies” posts.  And I didn’t learn backward skating at all.

The real big gain in my skill came over the labor day weekend.  The rink hosted a 24 hour skating marathon for Muscular Dystrophy (this was back in the days of the Jerry Lewis Telethon fundraiser for Muscular Dystrophy and related diseases).  I started the session wobbly and barely able to keep upright.  I ended it smooth and well balanced.

When I had to return to Ohio, ice skating mostly ended.  The only “rink” we had was an outdoor basketball court that was flooded in the winter and allowed to freeze–provided weather got and stayed cold enough.  If that sounds horrid it’s because it was.

Another brief episode when I was in the Air Force and assigned to a base in England.  I discovered Queens Ice Club in London and would take the train down from time to time.  Actually bought a pair of skate there (long since lost).  Once I returned to the US, that was it.  No skating for the next 35 years until my daughter expressed an interest and we got her into classes.  I found that I’d essentially lost everything I had learned when younger.  I was having to start completely from scratch. (No, it’s not like riding a bike.)

Soon thereafter, I started taking classes myself.

And here we are.

But the big thing was, just a few months ago, a couple of times around the rink was a major accomplishment.  Now, forty minutes of skating before I’m too tired to continue safely.  I’m not even trying to count laps at this point.

Not bad for an old fart.

 

Advertisements

“The Problem isn’t Guns it’s Mental health.”

inside-the-asylum_730_auto_main

(Yes, I’ve used this picture before.)

A common response to more gun control in the wake of high-profile shootings is to claim that the problem isn’t guns, but mental health.   We need to work on the mental health issue and leave the guns alone.  There’s more than a little truth to that.  I have, indeed, talked about the need to address mental health issues as part of a comprehensive approach to crime and violence.

But there are issues as well.  Like all simplistic “fixes” it can be as much problem as solution.  The problem I have with this new clarion call about mental health as the “cause” of violence is this:

Not. All. Mental. Health. Issues. Are. The. Same.

Only a tiny fraction of mental health issues lead to a propensity for violence in some individuals.  See “tiny fraction” and “some individuals”?  Most people with most mental health problems are no more a threat than anyone else.  But when people talk mental health in connection with curbing violence, either in general or in the specific case of gun violence, they tend to use a very broad brush indeed.  The details, and nuance, get lost in the rush for quick, simple “fixes.”

The push in some quarters is for broad expansion of “prohibited persons” to people with mental health problems of all types. This has two immediately apparent bad effects: 1) denying rights to people who should not have their rights denied and 2) creating an incentive for people who have problems to not seek help for fear of losing their rights.

So, while I can agree with the basic concept that the person and their particular characteristics (including some mental health issues), I fear the execution is going to be another rights grab, another excuse to deny the common individual their rights.

Quite frankly, allowing the government to set “mental health” qualifications for the exercise of rights has never gone well.  Never.  The temptation is there to use it as a means to shut down the rights of anyone not in favor with those in power.  And sooner, rather than later, those in power give in to that temptation.  There’s a reason why “nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law” made the top ten “don’t do it” list of the Bill of Rights.  The bar against depriving someone of their rights is high.  It’s supposed to be.  The arbitrary power to do so without strong protections against abuse leads to tyranny always.  If not with any current administration (after all, they’d only take those powers if they have the purest motives, right?) then in one soon to follow.  And governments are not so easily induced to relinquish powers once they’ve grabbed them.

And it doesn’t matter whether it’s coming from the “right” or the “left”, a rights grab is a rights grab and a power grab is a power grab.

“Nothing Moral about Work”

I’d like to think that this is actually a parody–and maybe it is–but I’ve run into entirely too many people for whom it’s an entirely too real attitude.

70773320_1146276335761272_4667519270425460736_n

Nothing moral about work? But apparently there’s something moral about forcing other people to work to provide that food, water, shelter, health care and other things that you want to have without working for it.  After all, those “basic human rights” you’re claiming don’t fall like manna from the skies.  Someone has to work to provide them.  And if you’re not going to work to provide something that they’ll voluntarily exchange for the product of their work, then you’re going to have to force them.

There is a word for that.

I’m going to go with you’re basically an entitled scumbag and you need to be kicked to the curb to make your own living or not (and if not, to starve–in the words of Paul, “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat”). I’m good either way.  I have absolutely no caring whatsoever for people in smug self-righteousness refusing to work because they have a “right” to have other people provide for them, people like you.

There are people with real difficulties who need help. Them, I’m more than willing to help.

You’re not one of them.

Why Do You Oppose Social Justice?

This question was asked of William Shatner and he gave what I think is a pretty good answer.

40603007_2215023895382180_9162780201610903552_n

The thing is, most of what people call “social justice” is neither Social nor Justice.  This does not mean that the term itself can’t have valid meaning.  Somebody over on the Book of Faces said that using a modifier with “Justice” diluted and destroyed the meaning with “Social Justice” as the prime example.  I disagreed.  Modifiers on “Justice” are not necessarily diluting or destroying so much as rather calling out subsets within the larger field of “justice.”

Properly used the expression [modifier][justice] is not a case of the modifier changing what is meant by “justice” but rather means “Justice”, in its own meaning as. applied. to. the. topic. indicated. by. “modifier.”

A good example is “Criminal Justice”, as the term is properly used (which is not to say that it is properly used all that often) is the application of the concept of justice to criminal law and the courts. Things like proof beyond reasonable doubt before instituting legal penalties. None of this “we all know he’s guilty” and certainly no Queen of Hearts’ “penalty first, verdict later.”

The modifier simply what elements of justice we’re talking about.

Thus, “social justice” can be a perfectly valid term. The application of principles of justice to the topic of “society.” Abolishing Jim Crow is an excellent example of “social justice” (as the term should mean). Ending Apartheid is another. Working through persuasion and argument to end and reduce prejudice and discrimination is yet another.

What it it not, what it cannot be without corrupting the term “Justice” beyond recognition is to use force to take what someone has earned either directly or though investment, and give it to someone else who didn’t earn it. That is injustice however you slice it.

As economist Walter E. Williams put it:

“But let me offer you my definition of social justice: I keep what I earn and you keep what you earn. Do you disagree? Well then tell me how much of what I earn belongs to you – and why?”

― Walter E. Williams, All It Takes Is Guts

But that’s not what we have.  That’s not how it’s used.  Indeed, it’s used in the exact opposite:  to take from those who have earned to give to those who haven’t.  To try to level “inequities” in ways that don’t reduce the root causes, but in ways which exacerbate them.

It’s not “Social justice” in any rational meaning of the term.  It’s simply injustice.  It doesn’t become justice because of previous injustices going the other way.  Putting artificial barriers in front of one group because previously barriers were in front of another does not render such barriers just.  They’re just as unjust whichever group they’re in front of.

The problem is that changes in society take time.  No matter how much one might wish to wipe away the injustices of the past and move forward into a perfectly just future.  Unfortunately, that’s not an achievable goal in the real world.  We can try to move toward it, tapping our feet impatiently at the slow progress, but that is all.  Attempts to hasten the process, by implementing new injustices in an attempt to “right the injustices of the past” do not serve that end.  All they do is add to the injustice, and invite backlash as the new injustices are seen by those, now being unjustly treated, to perpetrate yet more injustice now to “correct” the injustice they are not experiencing.

And so it goes, injustice breeding injustice moving further away from the goal of a more just society.

Further, justice must always be an individual matter.  Injustice committed by one individual, or even a group of individuals, never justifies reprisal against individuals who did not commit the injustice simply because they happen to possess certain characteristics (like skin color or ethnic forebears) to the ones who did commit the injustice.  Collective punishment is itself extreme injustice.

If you want justice, you must promote justice not new injustices.  It may take longer than you like to fully right the wrongs handed down from the past.  Indeed, it’s unlikely that we’ll ever see a perfectly just society in this imperfect world.  But that’s no excuse to perpetrate new injustices simply so you can “get yours.”

So is the ideal you strive for actual justice, or an excuse for injustices in your favor.

I tend to prefer justice.

 

Why I Do It.

I’ve touched on this a couple of days ago, but I thought this deserved its own posting.

a-shinning-city-on-a-hill

Over on the Book of Faces someone said that one of my posts made some good points but “too bad the people who need to hear it won’t.” He then went on to point out that the people on the “other side”, and particularly politicians, are simply not interested in the facts of the argument.

This is true.  True Believers aren’t going to be swayed by any argument I can make here (or elsewhere).  They’ll reject anything I say out of hand.  Even, if as has happened more than once, they accept an argument that I present they’ll be back the next day (if indeed they wait that long) stating the same positions that they had just acknowledged that I had refuted.  It’s all in one ear and out the other to use the old metaphor.

So, I was asked, “why bother?  Those who need to understand this won’t listen.”

Here’s why I bother.

Since at least 1990, on the order of four million babies have been born in the US every year.  Sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less, but in that ballpark.  that’s four million brand new people that haven’t “picked a side” yet.  And since it will be some years before any of those “new people” settle into unpersuadable “true believer” status, that means there’s a large pool of millions, tens of millions, of people who might be reachable by arguments such as those I make.  That’s more than enough to sway future elections if we liberty-minded people can reach them.

For a long time the Left has had control of the media.  Oh, back in the day they played pretend that they were “objective” but they could only get away with that because there was no one else to refute them.  Time and again I sat and watched Walter Cronkite, “the most trusted man in America,” lie about Southeast Asia.  I have no reason to believe he was any more truthful about anything else simply because I wasn’t familiar with the material he was covering.  They’ve had control of Education, of Entertainment, and much of both major parties. (People forget that “Neocon” came to describe more hawkish leftists disenchanted with more pacifistic leftists who switched parties, bringing their other leftist views with them.  When people started using “Neocon” as meaning some “arch” or “uber” conservative, well, that just showed how far “left” even the “right” had gone.)

While that was the case it was easy for folk like me, folk who believed in ideals of Liberty, to think they were alone or in a tiny minority.  But as the stranglehold on the media got broken, that became less the case.

So, there are three reasons why I “do it.”

  • To attempt to reach some of those tens of millions (at least) of people who haven’t become “true believers” in the other side, the ones who are amenable to persuasion.
  • To provide others on “my side” (at least partly–“I’m not altogether on anyone’s side because no one is altogether on my side.”) with facts and arguments they can use to persuade others.
  • To show those on “my side” that they are not alone.  They’re not the tiny minority of “extremists” that the media portrays.

So that’s why I do it.

Fogo de Chao

Last month I got an email ad about a special being run at the Brazilian steakhouse Fogo de Chao.  Normally, I ignore such things but I had long been curious about the place and the deal seemed like a good chance to try it out.

meat-stick2.0

I made reservations (do, if you plan to go there) and went there with my daughter.

Even with the reservations we had to wait.  Which is not unexpected.  After all, they don’t have control over when people who are already seated leave so they can seat the ones who’ve just arrived.  Ended up being about a fifteen minute wait.

Drinks.  They have an extensive wine list.  I can’t drink wine.  It spikes my blood sugar.  I didn’t look to see if they carried distilled spirits.  What they do not have is fountain drinks and certainly no free refills.  They did, however, have Diet Coke in bottles.  The bottle was a little teeny thing.  Eight ounces maybe?  I didn’t find a size written on it, so that’s a guess.

My daughter had some canned soft drink.  I don’t know what it was.  Some imported thing.

While talking about drinks, when you sit down, there are these little red disks at the place settings.  They are not coasters.  I’ll get to them in a moment.  Just remember, they are not coasters.  You have a knife, fork, and tongs.  I’ll get to the tongs in a moment as well.

You can order a meal off the menu but that’s not the way to do Fogo de Chao.  Instead, what you want is the service that regular price is just over $50 per person.  The special that brought my daughter and me here was less than that ($39), and did not include some of the higher-priced meat cuts, nevertheless that’s what we ordered.  The person who explained the setup and took our drink orders explained the difference but didn’t press when we demurred on the higher cost item.

You start with the “Market Table”, basically a very upscale salad bar.  You get a plate.  The Market Table has vegetables, a number of cuts of cured meats–I think I saw Salami there along with others and the cured leg of some animal, don’t know what–cheeses, fruits, and so forth.  I got a few vegetables and a bit of tomato mozarella salad.

Once you bring your plate (whether you get anything at the market table or not) the fun begins.  Those little disks I mentioned?  They start red side up.  You turn them green side up once you’re ready to have some meat.  What they have are people circulating with skewers of different cuts of meat–or plates in the case of the pork ribs.  When they see green side up they come to your table and offer you some of the item they’re carrying.  If you don’t care for that one, they move on.  If you do want some of that one they’ll start to carve a piece off, then you’ll grab the meat in the tongs so they can finish the cut, and you transfer it to your plate.

You continue in this way until you’ve decided you’ve had enough.  We had several cuts of beef, chicken, and pork.  All were delicious.  The marinated chicken drumsticks were particularly interesting.  They weren’t the full drumstick, just the “head” portion which they said were marinated overnight.  I’ll admit, my daughter didn’t care for hers but I thought they were quite good–although, given a choice I’ll generally go with beef over chicken pretty much any day.

When you’re done, or if you need a break to finish what you already have on your plate simply flip the card over to the red side and they’ll know not to bother you.

It’s expensive, yes, but the food is excellent and there’s plenty of it.  So, I consider this a “special occasions place”.  And I can highly recommend it on that basis.

One thing.  If you’re on any kind of diet, just assume that any day you go to Fogo de Chao will be a “cheat day.”  Food that good should be savored without having to worry about whether you’ll eat too much or what the effect will be on your waistline.

Why Do You Need…?

This is a very frustrating question to receive when discussing RKBA, not because it’s difficult to answer but because of a single, overwhelming fact:

The people asking the question never really want to know the answer.  They have already assumed that there is no justification for the desire (said justification qualifying as “need”).


“If you need 30 rounds to hunt, you suck at hunting,” they’ll say.  They don’t care that it’s not about hunting.  Or even if it is, some forms of hunting aren’t sport, or even for meat for the table.  They’re pest control.  There are cases out there where the best means to selectively control the population of certain pest species is through hunting.  Traps and poisons can harm species other than the target, species you don’t want to.   So sometimes, the most effective method with the least harm to the ecosystem is to have someone out there with a rifle and lots of ammunition, to cull as many of the pest species as possible as quickly as possible.  Yes, it’s possible to have that job handled by “professionals”, but someone on his own land who can do it himself isn’t going to want to pay professionals to do it for him.  And, for public lands or other such, why burden the taxpayers with the task when there are folk who not only will do it for free but often will pay for the privilege! (See most African big game hunts as examples–they are not someone going out and killing whatever strikes their fancy, but organized as a part of responsible wildlife management and getting people to pay large sums of money to do what you otherwise would have to pay someone else to do.)

But the “why do you need” people don’t care about any of that.  They’re not interested in explanations of wildlife management, pest control, and the realities of dealing with fecund species that not only interfere with human activities (like, for instance, crop damage, or predation on livestock) but can harm other wildlife species and habitats as well.  You can explain all of that until you’re blue in the face and it won’t matter one bit to the people asking why you need a firearm with particular characteristics.

The “Why do you need” people just do not care.


“Just get a shotgun” is a popular one on the subject of home defense.  Part of the problem with that one is that it’s a defensible argument in many cases but not all.  The problem is that the people making the argument have developed a mythology around them that reality does not bear out.  Yes, you still need to aim a shotgun.  At interior distances the spread of shot is only a few inches.  That means the center of your line of aim has to be within that few inches for some of your shot to hit.  (Conversely, if you’re within that few inches of the edge of the target on the inside, that means some of your shot will miss.) Yes, shot of sufficient penetration to reliably stop an intruder will also go through residential walls and present a possible risk to others.  No, “racking” the slide of a pump action shotgun does not automatically make any threats run away.  No, firing both barrels of your double barrel shotgun into the air from your porch is not guaranteed to scare would-be intruders away (and is very likely illegal depending on where you are). Yes, shooting through the door of your residence (see “will penetrate residential walls) is not a good way to deal with a would-be intruder and is extremely likely to get you up on felony charged.

Do you have children or other people in your residence  who might be taken hostage by an intruder?  Remember that the odds of recovering a hostage alive go way down of the hostage is taken from the scene.  Then remember the spread of that shot from the gun.  Can you hit the target but miss the hostage?  Or just let them go with the hostage and hope you beat those odds?

And sometimes “illegal entry of residence with resident’s present” (i.e. “home invasion) often involves multiple invaders.  And often, even with “big” guns with lots of “stopping power” it takes more than one shot to reliably stop a threat.  Oh, he may be dead on his feet but that doesn’t mean he’s stopped.  He can do a lot of damage to you and yours between the time he receives the mortal wound and the time he finally goes down.  You may need additional shots to actually stop him.

I’ve dealt with this before.  The features that the “why do you need…” people criticize are exactly what resolves those kinds of issues.  If one wants to be armed against the possibility of home invasion (of which over one million happened average per year between 1994 and 2010) then a very strong argument can be made that a so-called “assault weapon” is the best choice for dealing with the widest range of possible situations.

But the “why do you need…” people don’t want to hear that.  They don’t care.  They’ve made up their mind and to blazes with your facts.


“But the government has tanks and planes and nukes…” This one comes up in “answer” to the primary purpose of the Second Amendment:  as a protection against a government gone rogue and turned to tyranny.  “Being necessary to the security of a free state” (emphasis added).  And, once again, it’s another one I’ve dealt with before.  Yes, the government has tanks and bombers and fighters and nukes of every size from small, tactical warheads to big city-busters.  And most of it is of limited if any use against an insurgency, particularly when the insurgents are thoroughly mixed with the people you are supposedly “defending.”  Yes, you might nuke Des Moines to get some insurgents, but how many loyalists would you kill with them?  What are you going to do with those tanks that doesn’t make you the kind of tyrant that justifies the insurgency in the first place?

But again, the “why do you need…” people don’t want to hear that.  They don’t care.  The narrative they’ve created in their own mind is impervious to any arguments, any facts that don’t fit, anything but the sole answer they’re looking for, admission that “we don’t.”


And then there’s the attempt to point out to them that rights are not contingent on “need.” We don’t have to justify the “need” for something to have the right to it.  Rosa Parks didn’t “need” to keep her seat at the front of the bus.  The back of the bus went to all the same stops, after all.  No, she just demanded her right to remain where she was.

But, again, none of this matters to the “why do you need…” crowd.  If you don’t have a “need” that they accept (and they will accept none), then clearly that’s a green light to ban away.

Your “rights” are just what they want you to have.  No more.


So, given all the uselessness of trying to convince the “why do you need…” people that there are legitimate needs, and that even without that, the absence of those needs would still not justify banning, why do I keep making the arguments?

Well, there were 3.86 million people born in the US in 2017.  Similar numbers in previous years. (Actually, 2017 was the lowest since 1990 per the linked source.)  That’s 3.86 million new people who are neither in the “pro RKBA” camp nor in the “why do you need…” camp.  That’s 3.86 million new people who, at some time in the future (two year olds are probably a little early to try persuading) might be convinced to one side or the other.  Going beyond that one sample year, there are clearly millions of people out there who are still amenable to persuasion one way or the other.

So my purpose here is threefold:

  • I am trying to reach as many of that large body of persuadable people as I can.  Obviously that’s not very many considering the readership of this blog (and the various other venues where I also make these arguments).
  • I am providing data and arguments for others to use in their effort to reach those that they can.
  • Since the media is so thoroughly in the “why do you need” camp, I am vocal so that those who are in my own camp can see that they are not alone.  The unanimity the media likes to pretend exists is just that, pretense.

And that’s why I need to keep making these arguments.  And so do you.

So…go, and do thou likewise.