Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Moral Actions

Disclaimer: I Am Not A Philosopher.

A recent High Road thread, "What's with mock assault rifle sales for kids?", got me thinking about moral actions.

(One more time: IANAP)

Moral actions are those actions that have consequences for the actor. So, I blink, I twitch, I snore--these actions have no discernable consequences for me.

I choose to own and shoot guns. At a very basic level my choices (actions) have consequences. I am constrained by law as to the way in which I may possess them (e.g., access to those guns by others, especially children; transporting them; carrying them concealed).

On another level, the firing has a consequence (*BANG*, recoil, ejection of a fired cartridge, et cetera).

The most important consequence of gun ownership is that I must observe and obey the Four Rules: Treat all guns as if they are loaded, never point the gun at anything you do not intend to destroy, keep your booger-hooker off the bang switch and always know what's behind your target.

So my moral actions lead to behavior which is moral.

The Capital Times (Madison, WI) column mentioned above, "Rob Zaleski: What's with mock assault rifle sales for kids?" purports to find no good reason for children to have airsoft rifles which are patterned after an AR-15 or M16.

His complaints are that such a toy might be dangerous to an (un)intended target ("You could shoot someone in the eye!"), or to its user if the police mistake it for a real rifle and shoot the kid. QED, it's too dangerous and shouldn't oughta be allowed.

Mr. Zaleski is a columnist for a paper that proudly styles itself as "Wisconsin's Progressive Newspaper", so I feel safe in assuming that he is liberal in his views. I wish that I could engage him in dialogue and ask his views on teen driving and teen abortion, but I'll presume that he favors both. I will presume also that he prefer that teenagers go through Drivers' Ed and sex ed.

Driving and sex are moral actions, in that they have (or can have) consequences. Education that teaches the consequences of those actions--therefore, moral education--benefits both individuals and society.

But education is not confined to a specific time and place and subject, it can happen anywhere, at any time, from anyone. Even in play, with toy guns.

The Four Rules of safe gun handling can be learned in play, but more than just those rules is learned playing Cops and Robbers (or what have you). It may have been Kim duToit who wrote about little boys learning about morality through play of just this sort: being the good guys, rounding up the bad guys, and an enactment by the group (society) of enforcement of the rules (laws), accepted by all.

So, moral behavior can be learned and practiced through play. With boys, it'll probably be mock-violent. Eh--what are you going to do?

I do not believe that Mr. Zaleski is evil, nor that his individual actions will have evil consequences for his grandson (mentioned in the column). But I do believe that he does not feel that playing with toy guns can be morally educational.

So he won't be giving his grandson a toy gun, which is to say: "Grandson, I see no purpose in giving you such a toy. I do not feel that you can be trusted with it, and you cannot learn anything from it."

But I feel that such a toy (especially from him, the grandfather), given with the caveats of the Four Rules, could be a powerful moral experience for the child that I could weep for the loss of such an opportunity.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Saturday Poetry



Edgar Allan Poe (1809 - 1849)

A Dream Within A Dream

Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow--
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand--
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep--while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Gun Blogs, or What Did They Say?

Because I'm interested in guns and shooting, I look for and read a lot of gun blogs. Most of what I find is listed at N.Z. Bear's The Truth Laid Bear gun blog community page.

In that community are

1. Argghhh! link
2. Eric's Grumbles Before the Grave link
3. Resistance is futile link
4. SayUncle link
5. The Countertop Chronicles link
6. damnum absque inju link
7. Alphecca link
8. The Smallest Minority link
9. Publicola link
10. Random Nuclear Strikes link

...and eighty other blogs.

Here is quick roundup of recent posts from what I read:

--Ah, Shoot! comments about Paul McCartney's refusal to play in Communist China (11/29/05)

--Blognomicon says "It's still very odd to me to see this blog grouped in amongst "actual" news sources..." (11/29/05)

--The AnarchAngel posts about abortion, and the requirements for a new Special Operations combat pistol (.45 caliber, of course!) (11/29/05)

--andDr. StrangeGun posts about his plans for a digital camera (11/24/05)

Probably this is all done much more easily with a fancy-schmancy RSS feed, but I don't have nearly as much learning curve as I used to.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Saturday Poetry



Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542)

Alas Madam for Stealing of a Kiss

Alas, madam, for stealing of a kiss
Have I so much your mind there offended?
Have I then done so grievously amiss
That by no means it may be amended?

Then revenge you, and the next way is this:
Another kiss shall have my life ended,
For to my mouth the first my heart did suck;
The next shall clean out of my breast it pluck.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Last night on TV

I haven't watched TV on a regular basis for quite some time, because I've gotten out of the habit. But last night I had the time and I watched some or most of three shows:

Supernatural, on the WB

Invasion, on CBS

and Law and Order: SUV, on NBC

So what did I think?

In no particular order:

Law and Order has been telling grim fairy tales for a long time, and is now targeting younger and younger teens as its audience.

Plus the usual liberal kool-aid...

(But remember there's no media bias!)

Supernatural is chasing the X-Files audience...scary enough without being stupid about it, worth another look I suppose.

But Invasion left me dumbfounded. In last night's episode, the good guys chase a rich man's beautiful wife because she's pregnant with an alien baby. (That's bad.)

In the end, she's reported dead (missed how) and the team blows up her expensive, beautiful house. The final shot of that was a good guy walking (walking!) away from the house, down the slope, as the house explodes in the background--no distress, no fear, no remorse, no doubt. (That's good.)

What the--?

Okay, if the slasher movies of the '70s and '80s taught us all anything, it's that having sex kills.

So bad SF of the '00s teaches us that...we learned nothing?

Secondly, the good guys are, um, dweebs. Biologist Girl (Carla Gugino) spent all her time pursuing a Ph.D., Computer Guy 1 lacks social skills (just a guess), Computer Guy 2 is a dwarf with an on-line gambling problem, Charles Dutton is big and black, and the token white guy is very unmemorable.

Nobody on the good guys seems to have sex.

Indeed, they are concerned--obsessed--with people who do have sex.

That is, the bad guys. Well, bad girl in last night's episode.

She's beautiful, sexy, strong, smart, seemingly one step ahead of the team, and married to a rich, powerful older man.

God, this sounds like high school: The cheerleader and the football captain, in other words.

And the nerds completely destroy the hot girl who's having sex--kill her and burn her house to the ground.

So the slashers are the good guys, out to keep anyone from having sex?

I don't watch TV anymore on a regular basis...

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Mini-14 Range Report

What a boring day at the range.

I recently took possession of a Ruger Mini-14 (series 182, made in 1981). After field-stripping and cleaning it (and figuring out how to put the pieces back together), I took it out to the range.

Based on what I've read about the Mini-14, I had no expectations of great accuracy and did not ever hit the steel plate I was aiming at. No, what I was doing was teaching myself the basics of how this rifle operates, shoots and feels. Plus, I checked out the magazines (one factory 5-round and three aftermarket 10-round magazines).

All semiauto rifles have the capability of having a slamfire, so I loaded one round into the factory magazine, inserted the magazine, released the slide, took the safety off, aimed, squeezed the trigger, bang.

Next, I loaded two rounds into the factory magazine, inserted the magazine, released the slide, et cetera, bang, bang.

Next, I loaded one round into the first 10-round magazine, inserted the magazine, et cetera, bang.

Then two rounds into magazine 10-1, bang, bang. And repeat with the other two magazines (10-2 and 10-3).

After all that, they can still call me "Ten Finger Bruce", because nothing blew up. Which is the way I like it.

So the rifle works just fine. It feels okay in my hands (way better than the SKS!), but my God that op-rod wiggles around in the stock.

For my next trick, I shall attempt to shoot accurately. For this I will needs more ammo in various weights (50-70 grains? hmm...) and a muzzle weight.

Not a muzzle brake, just a simple two-piece 9/16" shaft collar that I can move around until I find the sweet spot on the barrel. I told you I'd been reading about this stuff (Mini-14 Talk)

Monday, October 31, 2005

Political Foulness

I was just listening to a few minutes of the Hugh Hewitt show. Hugh was talking about the nomination of Judge Alito with his guests, Irwin Chemerinsky of USC and John Eastman of Chapman University.

Hewitt played an audio clip of Sen. Charles Schumer in which Schumer expressed his concern (belief?) that Judge Alito, as Justice Alito, would roll back the achievements of Rosa Parks. That can only be understood as Schumer's belief that Judge Alito could find segregationist policies acceptable under the constitution.

One guest agreed, one pooh-poo'd the interpretation. I believe it was Eastman that further stated that Schumer should be ashamed of his statement.

Charles Schumer is a Democrat, from New York. He's been a U.S. Senator since 1998; before that, he was a Congressman from 1980 to 1998, and a state assemblyman from 1974 to 1980. So he's been a professional politician for 30 years.

I am disgusted to realize that this man is merely a typical politician--he has no shame, no honor, and nothing is beneath him. He is vile, untrustworthy, and unscrupulous. All of that and he's just a typical politician.

And there are tens, hundreds, thousands--millions--eager to follow in his shallow, meaningless footsteps.

What can I do to improve the quality of politicians in this country? What can anyone do?

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Saturday Poetry



James Munro (aka James Mitchell), 1926 - 2002

The sign outside the door said: "Arthur Candlish, Boats." It was an elegant handmade sign of teak, with neat, precise lettering. It looked considerably more valuable than the building it adorned. Loomis stared at the sagging door, the low, grimy wall of unpainted brick.

"You sure this feller's any good?" he asked.

"I'm sure," said Craig, and pulled on a rusty bell chain. It screamed its lack of oil, extended a foot and a half, then contracted back to normal in a series of convulsive jerks as its bell clattered. Loomis liked it. A man in a white apron opened the door. In his hand was a chisel. He looked at Craig, and the chisel's cutting edge no longer faced them.

"John," he said. "Nice to see you. Arthur will be pleased--he's in the office."


Die Rich, Die Happy (1965)

James William Mitchell also wrote under the pseudonyms 'Patrick O. McGuire', and 'James Munro'.

Titles and year of publication:
1) Here's a Villain! (US Title: The Lady Is Waiting) 1957
2) A Way Back (Also published as: The Way Back) 1959
3) Steady, Boys, Steady 1960
4) Among Arabian Sands 1963
5) Ilion Like a Mist (Also published as: Venus in Plastic) 1969
6) A Magnum for Schneider (US Title: A Red File for Callan) (Also published as: Callan) 1969
7) The Winners 1970
8) Russian Roulette 1973
9) Death and the Bright Water 1974
10) Smear Job 1975
11) The Evil Ones 1982
12) Sometimes You Could Die 1985
13) Dead Ernest 1986
14) KGB Kill 1987
15) Dying Day 1988

As 'Patrick O. McGuire'

1) A Time for Murder 1955
2) Fiesta for Murder 1962

As 'James Munro'

1) The Man Who Sold Death 1964
2) Die Rich, Die Happy 1965
3) The Money That Money Can't Buy 1967
4) The Innocent Bystanders 1969

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

End of an era?

Well, it looks as though Kim duToit has hung it up. That's sad, because he was one of my first favorite blogs and he was always (nearly always) worth reading.

I hope everything goes well for him and his family, and that he returns someday.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

LA County Gunstores

Last week, I visited seven different gunstores in one day.

Ugh.

For all that I live in California with its restrictive and nonsensical gun laws, plus living in LA county, gun stores are fairly plentiful and easy to find. The established stores and the newly-opened stores are going to have the same selection of "New! New! New!" guns for the California market that the Internet offers, and that's really not what I'm interested in.

But I can't know what else they have, unless I go there.

Wednesday morning, my primary caregiver duties done for the day, I strolled through the doors of the Pasadena Turner's Outdoorsman...and right back out again, since they had nothing interesting in their consignment section.

Onto Wimpey's Pawn in Azusa, just a quick jaunt on the 210 East to the Azusa Boulevard exit. This was my second time here and I ran straight to the back of the store to cruise the pawned firearms. The handguns seemed to be all new, except for the Taurus 66 (.357 Magnum, 6" barrel) that I had seen last time.

Asked to see one consignment rifle, a Marlin 99 M1 in .22. Also saw a Ruger 77 in .338 Winchester Magnum ($460), a Remington 673 in .350 Remington Magnum ($720) and a couple of still-handsome Remington Nylon .22s.

From there, I ran down the 605 and east on the 10 to the Turner's in West Covina. Finally found it in the Stater Bros' shopping center; Turner's told me they weren't big enought to rate a mention on the marquee on the street. Hmmph.

Nothing worth mentioning in consignment, but I did ask about Mini-14 prices ($570 for the blue steel and walnut stock, $620 in stainless).

That's three gunstores in one morning, so far.

Back on the road again to the north end of the 605 and Gunrunners, in Duarte (sorry, no link--c'mon people, it's the 21st century!). Lots of tasty consignment goodness! Three M1 carbines ($300, 400 and 500--cash price, more for credit cards), and a stainless Mini-14 for only $429, plus several other mil-surps and lever actions. Plenty of traffic coming into this store.

Pushing my luck, I decided to drive to Glendale to check on Gun Gallery (no link, see above). They've been open only for a few weeks, but I couldn't see any inventory changes between my last visit and this one. Hope their advertising plans work out.

AMT Automag II, mmm...

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it's back up Pacific to the 134 West and onto the 5--Stevenson Gun Ranch, here I come! What the--they're remodeling?!? No guns for sale for the next 30 days?!? That's just not right!

Finally, my odyssey is almost at an end. One more short drive down the street to Gun World. The store's got customers and a comedian behind the front desk ("Hello, I'm Josh, welcome to my Gun World. Can I interest you in something in 2000fps from a handgun?") Whoa--they're selling or taking orders for FN5.7? Hot diggity!

Gun World has a back room behind the front desk which is just packed with guns, guns and guns--handguns in the locked cabinets, long guns on the walls.

And speaking of long guns on the walls, aren't those Bushmasters? Really nice Bushmasters, but what are they doing for sale in California? I'm thinking LEO-only...but their tags aren't marked that way. Did I miss a legislative change of heart?

Alas, no. The Bushmasters are neutered, er, "modified" to have a fixed, non-detachable 10-round magazine, which is loaded by removing the upper. Very sad, but apparently they sell quite well.

And that was number seven. I'm amazed that I made it to, and through, so many different stores. I suspect I won't need to hit those stores again for a while.

Maybe...

Guns

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Saturday Poetry



Theodore Sturgeon, 1918 - 1985

[I]t is enough for you now to know that its most significant effect is to turn on the full analytical powers of the mind whenever fear is experienced. Panic occurs when analysis is shut off. Embarrassment occurs when fear is not analyzed. Hereafter, no truck driver will fear to use the word 'exquisite', no propagandist will create the semblance of truth by repeating falsehoods, no human group will be able to instill fears about any other human group which are not common to the respective individuals of the groups. There will be no fear-ridden movements of securities, and no lovers will be with each other and be afraid to state their love. In large issues and in small ones, the greater the emergency the greater will be the stimulation of the analytical powers.

That is the meaning and purpose and constitution of the ultimate weapon.


"The Traveling Crag" (1951)

Friday, July 15, 2005

Saturday Poetry



Raymond Chandler, 1888 - 1959

"Red Wind"

There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge.

Saturday Poetry

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Saturday Poetry



William Shakespeare, 1564 - 1616

"The Taming of the Shrew"



PETRUCHIO
Marry, so I mean, sweet Katharina, in thy bed:
And therefore, setting all this chat aside,
Thus in plain terms: your father hath consented
That you shall be my wife; your dowry 'greed on;
And, Will you, nill you, I will marry you.
Now, Kate, I am a husband for your turn;
For, by this light, whereby I see thy beauty,
Thy beauty, that doth make me like thee well,
Thou must be married to no man but me;
For I am he am born to tame you Kate,
And bring you from a wild Kate to a Kate
Conformable as other household Kates.
Here comes your father: never make denial;
I must and will have Katharina to my wife.

Re-enter BAPTISTA, GREMIO, and TRANIO

PETRUCHIO
Father, 'tis thus: yourself and all the world,
That talk'd of her, have talk'd amiss of her:
If she be curst, it is for policy,
For she's not froward, but modest as the dove;
She is not hot, but temperate as the morn;
For patience she will prove a second Grissel,
And Roman Lucrece for her chastity:
And to conclude, we have 'greed so well together,
That upon Sunday is the wedding-day.

KATHARINA
I'll see thee hang'd on Sunday first.

PETRUCHIO
Be patient, gentlemen; I choose her for myself:
If she and I be pleased, what's that to you?
'Tis bargain'd 'twixt us twain, being alone,
That she shall still be curst in company.
I tell you, 'tis incredible to believe
How much she loves me: O, the kindest Kate!
She hung about my neck; and kiss on kiss
She vied so fast, protesting oath on oath,
That in a twink she won me to her love.
O, you are novices! 'tis a world to see,
How tame, when men and women are alone,
A meacock wretch can make the curstest shrew.
Give me thy hand, Kate: I will unto Venice,
To buy apparel 'gainst the wedding-day.
Provide the feast, father, and bid the guests;
I will be sure my Katharina shall be fine.

BAPTISTA
I know not what to say: but give me your hands;
God send you joy, Petruchio! 'tis a match.

GREMIO TRANIO
Amen, say we: we will be witnesses.

PETRUCHIO
Father, and wife, and gentlemen, adieu;
I will to Venice; Sunday comes apace:
We will have rings and things and fine array;
And kiss me, Kate, we will be married o'Sunday.

(In honor of my friends Kate and John, marrying today!)

Saturday Poetry

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Interesting .22 Pistols

I've got one .22 pistol, a Taurus 94 revolver (4" barrel, 9-shot cylinder, blued frame) and I like shooting it. Browsing through a recent purchase, "Pistols of the World", 4th edition, Hogg and Walter, I was looking for interesting .22 pistols.

Vis a vis styling, a revolver is a revolver and not much changes from manufacturer to manfacturer. Ah, but the autoloaders can be much more interesting...

I like the look of the Astra TS-22, a well-made inexpensive target pistol:



Alas, none are to be found on the web for sale (Auction Arms, Gun Broker, Guns America, GunsLocal).

Guns

Politics: AB 352, SB 357

I wanted to write something about these bills and their respective sponsors (Koretz, Dunn / Perata), but they're all a bunch of lying fucks and I just can't face browsing through their records.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Saturday Poetry



Robert W. Service
Jan. 16, 1874 - Sept. 11, 1958

"Birthday"

(16th January 1949)

I thank whatever gods may be
For all the happiness that's mine;
That I am festive, fit and free
To savour women, wit and wine;
That I may game of golf enjoy,
And have a formidable drive:
In short, that I'm a gay old boy
Though I be
Seventy-and-five.

My daughter thinks. because I'm old
(I'm not a crock, when all is said),
I mustn't let my feet get cold,
And should wear woollen socks in bed;
A worsted night-cap too, forsooth!
To humour her I won't contrive:
A man is in his second youth
When he is
Seventy-and-five.

At four-score years old age begins,
And not till then, I warn my wife;
At eighty I'll recant my sins,
And live a staid and sober life.
But meantime let me whoop it up,
And tell the world that I'm alive:
Fill to the brim the bubbly cup -
Here's health to
Seventy-and-five!

Saturday Poetry

Monday, May 30, 2005

Memorial Day

From US Memorial Day.org

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. There is also evidence that organized women's groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War: a hymn published in 1867, "Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping" by Nella L. Sweet carried the dedication "To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead" (Source: Duke University's Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920). While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it's difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day. It is more likely that it had many separate beginnings; each of those towns and every planned or spontaneous gathering of people to honor the war dead in the 1860's tapped into the general human need to honor our dead, each contributed honorably to the growing movement that culminated in Gen Logan giving his official proclamation in 1868. It is not important who was the very first, what is important is that Memorial Day was established. Memorial Day is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all.

Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war). It is now celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May (passed by Congress with the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 - 363) to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays), though several southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead: January 19 in Texas, April 26 in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10 in South Carolina; and June 3 (Jefferson Davis' birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee.

Also from US Memorial Day.org

HEADQUARTERS GRAND ARMY OF THE REPUBLIC
General Orders No.11, WASHINGTON, D.C., May 5, 1868

The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, "of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion." What can aid more to assure this result than cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their deaths the tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.

If other eyes grow dull, other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain to us.

Let us, then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring-time; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon a nation's gratitude, the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan.

It is the purpose of the Commander-in-Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to lend its friendly aid in bringing to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.

Department commanders will use efforts to make this order effective.

By order of

JOHN A. LOGAN,
Commander-in-Chief

N.P. CHIPMAN,
Adjutant General

Official:
WM. T. COLLINS, A.A.G.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

The Gettysburg Address



The Gettysburg Address
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
November 19, 1863

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that the nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Saturday Poetry



A.R. Ammons (1926 - 2001)

When I Was Young The Silk

When I was young the silk
of my mind
hard as a peony head
unfurled
and wind bloomed the parachute:

The air-head tugged me
up,
tore my roots loose and drove
high, so high

I want to touch down now
and taste the ground
I want to take in
my silk
and ask where I am
before it is too late to know

Saturday Poetry

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Saturday Poetry



Unknown, possibly G. K. Chesterton? (1874 - 1936)

Which Are You?

I watched them tearing a building down,
A gang of men in a busy town;
With a ho-heave-ho and a lusty yell
They swung a beam and the sidewall fell.
I asked the foreman: "Are these men skilled,
And the men you'd hire if you had to build?"
He gave a laugh and said: "No indeed!
Just common labor is all I need.
I can easily wreck in a day or two
What builders have taken a year to do!"

And I thought to myself as I went my way,
Which of these roles have I tried to play?
Am I a builder who works with care,
Measuring life by the rule and square?
Am I shaping my deeds to a well-made plan,
Patiently doing the best I can?
Or am I a wrecker, who walks the town,
Content with the labor of tearing down.

Saturday Poetry

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Saturday Poetry

Thomas Nashe (1567-1601)

Spring, the sweet spring

Spring, the sweet spring, is the year's pleasant king,
Then blooms each thing, then maids dance in a ring,
Cold doth not sting, the pretty birds do sing:
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!

The palm and may make country houses gay,
Lambs frisk and play, the shepherds pipe all day,
And we hear aye birds tune this merry lay:
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!

The fields breathe sweet, the daisies kiss our feet,
Young lovers meet, old wives a-sunning sit,
In every street these tunes our ears do greet:
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to witta-woo!

Saturday Poetry

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Saturday Poetry



William Allingham, 1824 - 1889

A Gravestone

Far from the churchyard dig his grave,
On some green mound beside the wave;
To westward, sea and sky alone,
And sunsets. Put a mossy stone,
With mortal name and date, a harp
And bunch of wild flowers, carven sharp;
Then leave it free to winds that blow,
And patient mosses creeping; slow,
And wandering wings, and footsteps rare
Of human creature pausing there.

Saturday Poetry

Monday, March 07, 2005

The First Pope



Pope Peter, 32 - 67

From The Catholic Encyclopedia:

The Risen Lord confirms Peter's precedence.

In spite of this weakness, his position as head of the Apostles was later confirmed by Jesus, and his precedence was not less conspicuous after the Resurrection than before. The women, who were the first to find Christ's tomb empty, received from the angel a special message for Peter (Mark 16:7). To him alone of the Apostles did Christ appear on the first day after the Resurrection (Luke 24:34; I Corinthians 15:5). But, most important of all, when He appeared at the Lake of Genesareth, Christ renewed to Peter His special commission to feed and defend His flock, after Peter had thrice affirmed his special love for his Master (John, xxi, 15-17). In conclusion Christ foretold the violent death Peter would have to suffer, and thus invited him to follow Him in a special manner (ibid., 20-23). Thus was Peter called and trained for the Apostleship and clothed with the primacy of the Apostles, which he exercised in a most unequivocal manner after Christ's Ascension into Heaven.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Saturday Poetry



Richard Lovelace, 1618 - 1658

To Lucasta, on Going to the Wars

Tell me not, Sweet, I am unkind
That from the nunnery
Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind,
To war and arms I fly.

True, a new mistress now I chase,
The first foe in the field;
And with a stronger faith embrace
A sword, a horse, a shield.

Yet this inconstancy is such
As you too shall adore;
I could not love thee, Dear, so much,
Loved I not Honour more.

Saturday Poetry

Monday, February 28, 2005

LA County Gunstores: Wimpey's Pawn, Azusa

I drove out to Azusa the other day to look over the range where I'm taking a class soon (Burro Canyon Shooting Park), and on my up to the site I saw Wimpey's Pawn Shop.

A pawn shop, how interesting--oh, wait, they've got a sign in the window: Guns. screech

Wimpey's is a fairly typical pawn shop, with long counters of the expensive, pricey stuff (watches, rings, cameras, lenses, et cetera) under glass, band instruments on the wall and all the way in the back, guns.

Rifles and shotguns are racked neatly on the wall, handguns are in the display cases. Since I like older guns (new is new, anywhere you go) I zeroed in on the used revolvers. There were two that caught my eye: A Taurus 66 in .357, and a Colt Police Positive in .22.

The Taurus looked well-cared for, but the hammer spring felt really light when I cocked it. Huh.

The Colt was a small-frame (i.e., small grip) revolver with a 6" barrel, and it had not been well-cared for. The muzzle crown was dinged, and the barrel and frame were lightly speckled with rust. The frame screw on the right side was not just buggered, it was dead--half of the head was sheared away, leaving only a miniscule remnant of channel.

The grips seemed to be original (hard rubber?) and the action seemed in good condition (hammer cocked fine in single-action, no cylinder shake, extractor rod moved smoothly).

But for $340, I am not bringing this puppy home.

I'm not, I'm not, I'm not...

The other interesting gun on the back wall was an $80 rifle labeled "New England Westinghouse Company 1915 II". I asked about it, they didn't really know what it was. When I got home, I tried looking it up in my reference books, but no luck.

Googled "Westinghouse rifle" yesterday, found out it's most likely a Model 91 Mosin (7.62 x 54) made 1915-1917 for the Russian government (two contracts were awarded, one to Remington, the other to the above company, which was manufacturing weapons during WWI).

Huh--an American-made Mosin for $80.

Wimpey's Pawn Shop
650 N. Azusa Avenue
Azusa, CA 91702
626 334 9758

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Saturday Poetry



Max Eastman, 1883 - 1969

At the Aquarium

Serene the silver fishes glide,
Stern-lipped, and pale, and wonder-eyed!
As through the aged deeps of ocean,
They glide with wan and wavy motion.
They have no pathway where they go,
They flow like water to and fro,
They watch with never-winking eyes,
They watch with staring, cold surprise,
The level people in the air,
The people peering, peering there:
Who wander also to and fro,
And know not why or where they go,
Yet have a wonder in their eyes,
Sometimes a pale and cold surprise.

Saturday Poetry

Friday, February 25, 2005

John Farnam: Farnam's Quips

From Farnam's Quips for February 11:

"Once again, I encouraged them to carry pistols (and blades) always, concealed if necessary, any time they find themselves in dangerous places, worrying less about "propriety" and more about personal victory. I reminded them that the routine carrying of pistols conveys to the carrier a firm sense of purpose and of nobility and that the daily handling of dangerous weapons reinforces correct habits."

Guns

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Kim du Toit: GWB in Euroland

Kim describes the American style of diplomacy:

"Our diplomacy model, thanks to the GWB / Cheney / Halliburton / VRWC junta, is talk-talk-talk, failure, USMC/daisycutters."

Heh, heh, heh...

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Capitalist Lion dot com: Gagging on the Socialist Pill

Capitalist Lion dot com

Mr. Lion writes about "...grabastic pieces of socialist goop...", specifically socialists trying to convince (guilt) everybody else to feel horrible about America being more successful than any other country in the world:

"Our country was created with the freedome for the lowest bump on the social stick to reach the top, prevented by absolutely nothing save his own ambition."

"Second, there is nothing special or exclusive about the American way of life."

RTWT.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Saturday Poetry



Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)

"When I Set Out for Lyonnesse"

When I set out for Lyonnesse,
A hundred miles away,
The rime was on the spray,
And starlight lit my lonesomeness
When I set out for Lyonnesse
A hundred miles away.

What would bechance at Lyonnesse
While I should sojourn there
No prophet durst declare,
Nor did the wisest wizard guess
What would bechance at Lyonnesse
While I should sojourn there.

When I came back from Lyonnesse
With magic in my eyes,
All marked with mute surmise
My radiance rare and fathomless,
When I came back from Lyonnesse
With magic in my eyes!

Saturday Poetry

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Saturday Poetry



Paul Laurence Dunbar, 1872 - 1904

The Debt

This is the debt I pay
Just for one riotous day,
Years of regret and grief,
Sorrow without relief.

Pay it I will to the end --
Until the grave, my friend,
Gives me a true release --
Gives me the clasp of peace.

Slight was the thing I bought,
Small was the debt I thought,
Poor was the loan at best --
God! but the interest!

Saturday Poetry

Friday, February 11, 2005

Politics - Black History Month

I've never liked Black History Month--it's always seemed a patronising pat on the head to a minority culture that for the rest of the year is ignored unless it riots.

I don't really care all that much about black history or culture, either. I'm white, I've got my own culture, and my own sub-cultures within that culture (guns, heterosexuality, conservative politics).

That said, Saturday's poetry is by Paul Laurence Dunbar, a Negro poet of the 19th century.

From The Paul Laurence Dunbar Homepage:

Paul Laurence Dunbar was the first African-American to gain national eminence as a poet. Born in 1872 in Dayton, Ohio, he was the son of ex-slaves and classmate to Orville Wright of aviation fame.

Although he lived to be only 33 years old, Dunbar was prolific, writing short stories, novels, librettos, plays, songs and essays as well as the poetry for which he became well known. He was popular with black and white readers of his day, and his works are celebrated today by scholars and school children alike.

An interesting biographical page is here.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Politics: Los Angeles mayoral race

A recent thread on ca-firearms (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ca-firearms/) asked about the RKBA positions of the various candidates. After a couple of responses, one poster commented that "Any DemonCrat in LaLa land is against firearms".

My response was "How about taking a candidate shooting? Or a senior aide? Are there any plans afoot by any NRA Members' Councils, or a CRPA committee?"

I've been a science fiction fan for many years and I am dismayed to see how little difference there is between the fannish world and the real world--one is just the other, writ smaller.

But it's an idea worth pursuing!

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Saturday Poetry



William Blake, 1757 - 1827

The Tiger

Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder and what art
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand and what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? What dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And water'd heaven with their tears,
Did He smile His work to see?
Did He who made the lamb make thee?

Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

Saturday Poetry