Sunday, October 4, 2015

Agree to disagree? I'd rather not.

With the latest spree shooting, the anti gun forces are out, and gleefully dancing in the blood of the dead, happy for this incident, so they can use it for political advantage, despite the fact that most of what they are pushing for wouldn't have prevented the shooting.

The biggest call I have seen is for background checks. I started by pointing out that there ARE background checks in place, this man owned 13 guns, and according to police, all 13 were legally purchased from a dealer. This means that the man passed 13 background checks, and not one of them caught that he was a potential killer. Oregon already has Universal background checks, which is the exact law that the antis are telling us would have prevented this killing. Background checks just don't work.

He then came back with the statement that, if we had gun registration and purchase limits, the shooter would not have been able to have 13 guns. I responded by asking him how many guns one needs to carry out a massacre, and pointing out that in this case, the shooter only had four guns with him during the rampage. Four is not a large number, so setting the limit that low is rather silly. Such limits would prevent nothing.

He then responded with the old standby of "you have to report to the state when you sell a car, why not a gun?" Here was my response:

 So you say that you want to regulate guns like you do cars, eh?
I have to register a car ONLY if I plan on operating that car on public roads. As long as that car stays on private property, I can buy, sell, or trade them without registration or title as often as I please.
Motor vehicles:
I can own as many cars as I want. I can buy them where ever I want. I can buy a Trans Am in Illinois today, and a Corvette in California tomorrow. I can travel to New York and buy a truck.
Even if there IS a title, all the law says that I have to do is sign it over, there is no requirement that I go down to DMV and actually register it, unless I want to operate it on public land or roads.
I can make my own automobile. I can give it the engine I want, the fuel tank I want.
The car I own can be a race car, it can be automatic, it can be manual, it can have 100 seats, or no seats.
That car can have a small fuel tank or a large one.
Licensing is only required to OPERATE a car on public streets, not to OWN a car.
Any 16 year old in the country can get a license to drive a car.
The license that I get in Texas allows me to drive a car on any street in the country, even in New York. It must be accepted by all 50 states.
The license allows me to drive on school grounds, on government installations
I don't even need a license, as long as I only operate the car on private property.
If I get caught driving without a license, I only pay a small fine.
No criminal background check is required for a license- felons, child molesters, all sorts can get a license.
Guns are FAR more regulated than guns.
The reason that I am against so-called universal background checks is that this would outlaw a person selling his or her own guns, loaning them to a friend or family member, or any other means of transferring ownership, no matter how temporary. Meaning that I would then have to pay a dealer to handle the transaction, assuming any of them would.
Currently, if I want to send a gun to someone out of state if I sell a gun on the Internet, that is how it has to be done. The two dealers involved (one in this state, one in the receiving state) each charge $50 on average to handle the paperwork. The person on the receiving end has to fill out the same forms and go through the background check. No loophole there. This would still not prevent gun ownership by criminals, who get their guns on the black market. The only way for such a scheme to work, then, would be nationwide registration. There is only one way that this would then go: confiscation.

He then said, so the only reason you don't want to register guns is personal inconvenience and a little money? That isn't a good reason. He then said that we would have to agree to disagree.

I refuse to "agree to disagree." That is stupid. Suppose I came out and said that men should be able to freely rape women, or we should be able to own slaves. Would he still want to "agree to disagree?" When someone says that to me, it comes across as some smarmy, superior attitude that basically says "I am smarter than you, and I am your better, but since you, with your obviously inferior intellect, cannot see reason and agree with me, I will simply smile at you, and tell you that you have a right to your opinion, you simpleton."

I won't “agree to disagree” in this conversation or in others, because “agree to disagree” is an incredibly lazy tactic. It ranks up there with “everyone is entitled to their own opinion” among the pantheon of dishonest and self-defeating statements made in lieu of actual argument. I cannot heap enough contempt on the idea of “agreeing to disagree.”

The argument could be useful, I suppose, if it meant no more than what it says – mutual recognition of a disagreement. Some arguments are intractable – issues of personal taste or the subjective importance of certain values cannot be resolved empirically. In an argument like that, once both sides have expressed themselves as clearly as possible, if there is still no agreement then there is nothing left to do but acknowledge there is a disagreement, and leave it at that.

That is not, however, the sense in which I most often hear the phrase “agree to disagree” used. What is usually meant is “we’re both equally right, both equally wrong.” It is an arch-liberal dodge, invoking the most ludicrous type of relativistic equivocation. If I am holding a flamethrower and you are holding a lit match, it is true that we can both start fires, but pretending that we can just “agree to disagree” about which is better suited to the task of lighting a match is nonsense.

Two positions, one demonstrably true and the other based on nothing more than feelings, do not share the same level of validity. If we can agree on some basic definitions like “true” and “evidence”, and if we can agree that it is important to have true beliefs rather than false ones, then we can and should examine different ideas. While it might be nice to pretend that this kind of dispute is simply a difference of opinion, it most certainly is not. I refuse to pretend that a poorly-argued position, based on straw men refutations of legitimate questions, holds sufficient validity to be granted any more respect than belief in aliens or the Loch Ness monster.

When a person claims that they wish to "agree to disagree" is really saying is, “I want you to agree that my position has just as much merit as yours”, and I am certainly not interested in engaging in masquerading a clear true/false dichotomy as a simple difference of perspective. Truth is not established easily, and that’s a good thing. In a universe where an infinite number of explanations for a given phenomenon are conceivable, we must scrutinize and test to see which ideas are worth keeping and which can be discarded safely. “Agreeing to disagree” is simply asking to lump the good ideas in with the fanciful or debunked ones in some misguided sense of fairness.

Some things are simply so repugnant, and so against freedom and decency that I cannot agree to disagree. The point here is that we live in society that claims to value freedom. There are always those who would abuse those freedoms and hurt others. We do not punish the innocent and take away the freedoms of the 99.9995% who didn't break the law last year and shoot someone illegally in order to stop that 1 person in 500,000 who might. So instead we, as a nation, wait for someone to commit a crime and then we punish them. This principle is the rock upon which we build our society. The alternative is to become the sort of totalitarian regime that we have always fought against, and begin punishing people based upon our belief of what they MIGHT do someday.

There are more than 99,988,000 gun owning people every year who do NOT use their firearms to commit murder. We don't punish the innocent in order to catch the 12,000 who are guilty.

It has been demonstrated again and again that gun control doesn't work. Background checks don't work. So why continue to do something that doesn't work and deprives people of liberty, instead of looking for real solutions? In this situation, no amount of background checks would have prevented the shooting. The person in question went through those background checks 13 times, and not once was he denied. Background checks failed, as they usually do.

There is no way to predict when or if a person will snap and go crazy. There is no department of precrime, and we are not in the land of the movie "Minority Report" and I would not wish to be.

It isn't about inconvenience, it is about FREEDOM and LIBERTY and the very ideal upon which our nation is based. We have freedoms and liberties, and anyone who would take those away for an ideal Utopian idea that we can prevent murder, an ideal that can never be reached, is against the very foundation of this nation, and is a person with whom I have no hope of ever having a common ground or rational discourse, for we each view the world though a fundamentally different lens.

I refuse to agree that it is OK for you to demand that I give up my freedoms, so that we can agree to disagree. You see, what you are wanting to do is NOT agree to disagree. If you get your way, a law will be passed that REQUIRES that I do things your way, on penalty of imprisonment or death, if I resist. That is hardly "agreeing to disagree."

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Justifiable homicide?

Watch this video, beginning at the 54 second mark:

Now imagine for a second that you are the one who walked into that convenience store, saw what appeared to be a dead body, and were then confronted with a man wearing a clown costume, covered in blood and carrying a bloody axe, who then chased you through that store into the corner.

You can look at this video:

Now imagine that you are in this convenience store and are faced with a person who is obviously, to you, an armed robber.

Would you draw and fire? I know I would, and you know what? I would be completely justified in doing so. You are presenting me with a situation where I am in reasonable fear of my life, where I reasonably believe that I am facing an imminent forcible felony. After all, you are after the fear reaction from your victims in order to obtain a few laughs.
In fact, since the people making this video have not secured a release from the "victims" of their prank in advance, I submit that they are committing a crime. A felony, in fact. Several of them. The European prankster filmmakers think that putting people in mortal fear for their lives is funny.

This is a warning to you idiots: pull a prank like that in a concealed carry state, and you are likely to be shot, and the shooter will be blameless. The members of the film crew who survive will be charged with murder for the death of their accomplice.

There are people who will claim that shooting them would be morally wrong, because it is a prank and no one was harmed. I say to you: bullshit. People are not put on this earth to be your playthings, you sadistic pieces of trash.


Within hours the kid that built a clock that looked like a bomb had an invite to visit the White House.

How long will Chris Mintz Have to wait before the president picks up the phone and declares him a hero?

Seen on Facebook.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


Being a teacher sometimes means heartbreak. I am in the middle of my second year as a High School teacher. One of my students, a 17 year old girl who is a senior, was also one of my students last year. She is an A student, and works hard. She has a sweet disposition, and is one of my favorite students. The only family that the girl has is her mother, so she confided a lot of secrets to my girlfriend and me. She came to us for advice all of the time.

This morning, the girl woke up to a knock at the door. It was the police. They were there to tell her that her mother, the only family that she has, was killed the night before in a car accident while on the way home from work. This girl is a ward of the state, has no one, and doesn't know what to do with her life. She and some of her friends just left my house, and I am heartbroken for her. She has nowhere to turn, and no family to help her.

I don't know what else to say. What do you say to a 17 year old girl who just lost all of the family that she has in her life? Her first question for us was, "Will I still be able to stay in this school and graduate in June?"

Her entire life is in turmoil. She missed school today, and when she came over she tried to turn in her homework. Tomorrow, I am going to see about setting up a fund at the school for donations.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Schrodinger's pornography

According to some, the average American commits 3 felonies a day. In fact, I have blogged about this numerous times in the past. It used to be that felonies were serious crimes that placed the public in danger of the perpetrator. A person who has been convicted of a felony cannot vote or own a firearm. This case is a good example of how we have defined felony down to mean almost anything, including taking a selfie.

Two 16 year old children from North Carolina were facing a total of 14 years in prison for taking nude pictures of themselves and sending them to each other. They were charged with producing child pornography, transmitting child pornography, and possession of child pornography. Each of these crimes is a felony, and would earn the children a lifetime label of "sex offender," meaning that they would not be permitted to be near children, and could only live in communities that are filled with sex offenders. That is how we are protecting children, by convicting them of the crime of looking at themselves while nude, and then forcibly placing them in communities where they will live with actual sexual predators.

The most egregious part of this whole thing is that the law charged them as adults, for taking pornographic pictures of themselves, who are legally considered to be children. This means that they are considered to be both adults and children simultaneously. We will call this Schrodinger's pornography.

The children had to take a plea deal, or they would have had their lives ruined. The Huffington post would have defended them if they were a gay couple, but since the case involved a boy and a girl, they are not interested.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Two posts in one!

I have spent the four years since I retired largely without health insurance. Since I was paying as I went, I only saw a doctor when I had a problem. I finally got a full time job that offers insurance, and I paid for the best plan they had, which costs me $40 a month by payroll deduction. I went to see a doctor. I had some complaints that I needed addressed, the largest of which was my high blood pressure. Over the past few years, I had been going to Mexico and buying blood pressure medication over the counter there, because it is cheaper to do so than seeing a doctor here.

I had also noticed, over the past six months some odd things with my health, and I thought I knew what the problem was, but needed a doctor to confirm it. It turns out that I was correct: I am now a diabetic. What this means is that I have to watch my diet, and I am going to be taking about 11 pills a day for the rest of my life. Failure to do so will result in my losing finger, toes, vision, kidneys, and finally having a heart attack. I would rather take the pills, thank you.

Diabetes can be managed, and it isn't the death sentence that it once was. However, it reminds you that you are mortal. 50 years old is just around the corner, and I am closer to 60 years old than I am to 35. It seems like just a few weeks ago that I was in my 20s.

Sic transit gloria mundi.

As to the insane cost of health care and medication:

I blame the insurance companies and the government for this. Why? Because every time I went for a checkup, the doctor wanted to do $500 worth of blood work. The fact that most people have insurance contributes to the cost of this blood work because this divorces the person receiving the service (the patient) from the person providing the service (the lab and the doctor) and the person paying for the service (the insurance company or the government, in the case of Medicare).

This distorts the supply/demand curve, as increasing prices do not reduce demand. What you get then, is people demanding for a product, cost be damned. When it isn't your money, it is easy to claim that money is no object. Once that happens, there is no market force to prevent costs from going up, but lots of demand for products and services, which drives prices through the roof. The other force that reduces supply, thus increasing cost, is government licensing of health professionals, but that is a post for another day.

Wanna find a way to reduce costs? The purchaser and the user HAVE to be the same person. In a government run healthcare system, the government is the purchaser AND the payer, and you as the patient get whatever services that the purchaser decides you get. In a private system, the user is the purchaser and payer.

Friday, September 18, 2015


Three years ago, I opened an account at Prosper. I opened the account with $50 as a test of the company. I loaned $50 for 60 months at 23.96%. the borrower had requested 25,000, and I supplied $50 of that.

The borrower made timely payments for about three years, and I rolled over the $35 that had been repaid to me into a 36 month loan at 16.90%.

Both borrowers have since defaulted. I wound up getting $20.12 of my original $50 investment back. In other words, I lost 59% of my investment.

Then I ran across this article about how the big banks have taken over peer to peer lending.

I have decided that I do better in the casino than I do investing. I played in the stock market, and lost more than half of my money when the market crashed in 2008.

I tried peer to peer, where I lost 60% of my money.

I tried real estate when I bought a house in 2007, only to see it lose half its value two years later.

I am actually on the plus side from playing Craps in the casino.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Reasonable discussion

The anti gunners keep saying that they want a reasonable discussion about gun control.

Here is how a recent discussion that I had with an anti gunner went:

Anti gunner:
A strong majority of gun owners and non gun owners support stronger restrictions on firearms, according to a national survey conducted by Johns Hopkins University.

You know that reading a news story about a study is not the same thing as seeing the study, right? Let me look at the study and see what it says. I have been searching the databases, but can't seem to find the study anywhere.Would you happen to know the author or the title of the study?

I really don't care. I think Most NRA member lie though their teeth. Their a bunch of sick evil people in my book. I compare them to being members of some demonic church of the gun. Feeding on the Blood of the Innocent.

So much for reasonable discussion. That is what they think of you.

Another anti gunner on the same site came out with the "we should treat cars like guns" meme, and I countered with LawDog's theory on why that isn't REALLY what they want. My post was deleted. Reasonable discussion, indeed.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Sigh. The parents are even worse.

In the writing assignment here, I assigned this paper to my 120 students. Here is the breakdown:

Of the 60 who turned in the assignment:
In 7 of them, at least 50% of the content in it was plagiarized from internet sources (I use to catch plagiarism, and the students know it, so I don't understand how they think they will get away with it)


A or B: 15

C level work: 19

D level work: 20

F: 15

Zero for cheating (plagiarism): 7
53 of them did not even attempt the assignment and got a zero

7 turned the assignment in at least three days late, and had their grade reduced accordingly

To help the kids, I have a class website, where:

I post the rubric that I use to grade the papers. This rubric tells the kids exactly what criteria I use for grading. They all know EXACTLY what they need to do in order to get a decent grade.

I post a sample of an A level paper, so they know what one looks like.

I post the requirements for the paper, including the due date and the website where they are to submit the paper. Even so, I still get parents who email me and complain that their precious snowflake wasn't aware of the (due date, late policy, plagiarism policy, method of citing another's work, or other requirement) and can't I make an exception?

It has gotten to the point where I have to have the students sign a paper saying that they are aware of the class requirements. Last week, I had a parent go all legal on me and try to say that a child's signature on the paper is meaningless because children can't enter contracts. Another said to me, "So what, no one actually reads that stuff before they sign it."