chris_gerrib: (Default)
Sadly, many people in this world seem to not want to look at facts. Here's an interesting example.

There was a recent article in NRA’s Shooting Illustrated website entitled Pros and Cons of Concealed-Carry Revolvers. In it, the author noted that for most self-defense and concealed carry applications, Ye Olde Five or Six Shot revolver was more than adequate. This proved very controversial.

Then this shooting expert and author ran the numbers. The article is well worth reading, if only for the humorous summary of incidents. But the meat of the article was simple, and is reproduced here:

Number of shots fired
Average 1.43
Median 2.00
Mode 2.00
Max 2.00

There's the data. The produced a storm of arguments about Ninjas, Drug Addicts, Them Crazy People, and Invasion from Planet Nine. In short, no facts, much speculation.

Facts matter.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
Like the label on the tin says:

1) This Friday, S. Evan Townsend will be featuring me on his podcast "Speculative Fiction Cantina." Link when I have it.

2) This Saturday, an interview with me will be on The IndieView.

3) Over the weekend, I read a great book: Warnings Unheeded: Twin Tragedies at Fairchild AFB. The book is written by the Air Force policeman who stopped a mass shooting by killing the shooter with a pistol at 70 yards. It's about how the mass shooter came to be as well as how, a week later, a B-52 practicing for an air show plowed into the ground doing an unsafe maneuver. No spoilers - both events were preceded by many unheeded warnings.

4) On climate change - our memories can be unreliable. I was in Chicago in 1999 and don't remember a particularly warm February.

5) Why don't many racist people think they're racist?. Answer: Because they probably aren't racist. Saying or doing something racist and being a racist is not the same thing.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
Thought One - Annie Oakley

One of the things that gripes my ass are the Gun Store Experts who tell me that, had they been at the Shooting Of The Week, they would have dropped the Bad Dude. Maybe yes, maybe no...

Shots In The Dark, or, How I Became A Sharpshooter.

Thought Two - Thinking It Through

So, one of the things Trump and his supporters have been saying regarding Orlando is that we've been attacked and need to hit back. "It's an act of war!" So does that make the shooter a soldier? Who should we hit back at? I mean, our bombing of ISIS is what caused the shooter to go get a gun. If we're at war with Islam, then as this guy asks how exactly does a nation prosecute a war against a leaderless entity with multiple subgroups?

When one asks these questions of Trump and his supporters, one gets either an angry glare, vague platitudes or a repetition of the initial statement. One does not get actionable ideas.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
Long-time readers know I own guns, and am in general interested in their use for defensive purposes. I am also interested in keeping guns out of the hands of crooks and crazy people, but that's another post. In any event, here's three thoughts on gun ownership.

Thought #1

Just because some stranger is in your house doesn't mean you can shoot them. The author, a long-serving police officer, recounts a number of cases of finding drunks, Alzheimer's patients or "several unknown young men drinking the beer in his fridge. His college-aged son thought dad would be away on vacation another day and had given his buddies keys to the house so they could use it for a party spot."

Thought #2

Sometimes life is out of your control. The author walked out of the shower with nothing but a towel to find two strange women in her house. They were teachers, let in (against specific instructions) by the homeowner's then 4-year-old son. Another moral: "This goes to illustrate that if you are weighing the safety of yourself or your family on the understanding and application of instruction on a young child you are making a gamble with your life and the lives of your family members."


Thought #3

Clear communication in high-stress situations is important. Think about what you're going to say and do before you have to say and do it.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
Yesterday got away from me. Here, today, have some random thoughts:

A) From Andrew Branca, lawyer: When you go out to the trouble, rather than the trouble finding you, it’s rarely helpful for a claim of self-defense.

B) Regarding the ongoing panty-wadding over Syrian refugees: All the Paris attackers were EU citizens not refugees.

C) From my writing group - "you really can't pants a mystery novel." (At my dad's request, I'm working on a present-day mystery novel set in a small Illinois town.) I have discovered that I can pants (write without outline) a science fiction novel. I've written enough of them to do so. I've not written any mysteries, and so I shall have to curl up with a nice warm outline soon.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
As you may have heard, over the weekend in Texas a pool party got a bit out of hand, and the police were called. A police sergeant ended up pulling his gun at various attendees. This was after said sergeant (literally) ran around like a chicken with his head cut off, screaming, swearing and issuing contradictory orders to the other attendees. Having watched the video, his actions were textbook for how to thoroughly fuck up a situation.

Reminder, kids:

1) Never point a gun at somebody you're not prepared to kill.

2) You really should try to de-escalate a situation.

3) Keep calm.

ETA: Like this guy said.

ETA, Much Later: In fairness to the officer in question, I should note that I don't know if this was an aberration caused by some personal issue or standard operating procedure. Unfortunately, (says the IT guy who once crashed two servers in one week) sometimes we get zapped for even aberrant behavior.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
We won at trivia last night, and ate for free, enjoying the fruits of our previous victories. Herewith have some links to celebrate. (Yeah, you get the party you paid for.)

A) Jim C. Hines discusses The Politics of Comfort. Jim's point is that most if not all writing has a political content. The money quote:When Ann Leckie chose to write about a protagonist from a genderless society in Ancillary Justice, that was a political choice. So was Jim Butcher’s choice to write Harry Dresden as a straight white male. Neither of those choices is automatically Right or Wrong.

B) On free speech, like this guy I support free speech AND I support criticism of speech.

C) The folks at a site called The Truth About Guns re-enacted the Charlie Hebdo shooting (which has a lot of tactical similarities to a "standard" workplace shooting) and found that one armed bystander was not enough to stop the killing.

D) My open letter to James Fallows was published on his site.

E) Apparently, anti-environmentalists argue that, just like when we ran out of whale oil, when we run out of regular oil we'll switch seamlessly to something else. The actual history of the event begs to differ.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
Like the label on the tin says:

Guns

This is why I am a fan of revolvers for self-defense. For those not clicking through, an experienced shooter with a well-used semi-auto experienced a malfunction, rendering her gun into a paperweight.

Jack The Ripper

So, a guy selling a book claims to have solved the Jack The Ripper mystery via DNA. Interesting, but given the age of his DNA evidence and other issues, not conclusive. At this point, I don't think we'll ever get conclusive evidence.

God's War

I recently finished Gods War: Bel Dame Apocrypha Vol 1. The book was billed as "fantasy." It's not, rather science fiction in which the characters use biological science vs. machines. Whatever you call it, I highly recommend it.
chris_gerrib: (Rotary)
I'm back at work, and busy getting caught up. Having said that, here's an interesting data point (or series of them) on American police practices. In Germany, a nation of 80 million people, police in 2011 fatally shot six persons. They fired 85 bullets (in total) doing that. Factoring in warning shots, the German police fired 1.75 bullets per person they hit.

I used to think that this phenomenon of "lets everybody empty our guns into the suspect" was related to the carrying of high-capacity semi-auto pistols. But since I'm told that they've been carrying semi-autos for years, that ain't the case. There is something amiss with US police practices.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
Armed Response

Comes news today that a hospital shooting in Pennsylvania was stopped when a doctor pulled out his own gun and shot the attacker. This does demonstrate that, yes, Virginia, armed citizens can interrupt mass shootings. Alas, only about 3% of Americans carry a gun, so this doesn't happen very often. ETA Not advocating more Americans carry a gun, merely noting that since most Americans don't, "good guys with guns" are scarce on the ground.

Reagan Republicans

I voted for Ronald Reagan in 1984, and Bush in 1988 and 1992. Since then, I've been trending Democratic. this article very accurately traces why.

Fast Food Wages

From various sources comes news that Elizabeth Warren announced that fast food workers deserved a "living wage." I'm all in favor of people making enough to live off of, and considering the US has the lowest minimum wage of the industrialized world, we could probably bump ours and not hurt anything.

Having said that, the real problem is thanks to the deindustrialization of the US (Ross Perot's "giant sucking sound") jobs that pay decent wages for non- and semi-skilled labor are scarce on the ground. The real fix is a change to industrial policy to pull those jobs back from overseas. Relatively small tariffs would, I think, be very helpful in that regard.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
Guns, Militia and the Federalist Papers

Supporters of allowing anybody full access to any gun frequently cite the Federalist Papers, which speak approvingly of the militia. Except, the Federalist Papers were written before the Second Amendment. (The Second Amendment was written as a condition of getting the Constitution approved.) So, the militia that Madison is talking about in the Federalist Papers is The Militia (singular – not “the various state militias) that Congress is specifically charged with “organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia,” (Article 1, section 8)

So, Madison’s militia is not any bubba with a gun, it’s an organized body regulated by Congress. That’s the militia that is supposed to protect America, regardless of how effective it really would be.

The Purpose of Police

Pro-gun types will often say of police that, “when seconds count, the police are minutes away.” This is accurate, but it’s usually followed up with the idea that because police are minutes away, they are useless.

Not so fast. Police have several roles, such as:
- Deterrence. By patrolling and being seen, some crime is deterred.
- Reduction. By removing criminals from society, during the period the criminal is locked up that criminal can’t commit a crime. Police also prevent the establishment of no-go zones and other criminal havens. (A criminal haven is not the same as a rough neighborhood. Police can and do go into rough neighborhoods to remove crooks.)
- Duration. Any rational criminal who engages in an attack knows they need to get in and out before the police show up. This limits the amount of time they can spend being a criminal.
- Dispute resolution. In such garden spots as Somalia, a lot of crime is in the form of vendettas. By enforcing a means of dispute arbitration, there’s less crime overall.

George Washington and Thomas Jefferson

Apropos of this article about how George Washington would be no ally of the modern Tea Party, I am reminded that the various Tea Partiers like to quote Thomas Jefferson. Here’s a neat fact – Jefferson had absolutely nothing to do with drafting or ratifying the Constitution! He was in Paris during the relevant periods, and his “Tree of freedom should be watered with the blood of tyrants” quote was in a letter sent back home advocating against the very idea of a Constitution. Our historically illiterate society tends to forget that the “Founding Fathers” were really only united on one idea – getting rid of British rule.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
Cleaning out the leftovers from last year:

A) As illustrated by a sad case in which a man shot his stepdaughter thinking she was a burglar, home defense requires more than just a gun. You should always visually ID your target before shooting.

B) Here's a real-world case of a woman without fear. She manages to get herself in a lot of dangerous situations.

C) For creative types - be friends with failure.

D) Found via dinking around, could the whole world conquer the United States? The short answer is no, not without years to build up their militaries.

E) From [livejournal.com profile] james_nicoll, we may only get one shot to terraform Mars. Linked to not because I agree or disagree with it, but because it's an interesting discussion.

F) If you live in wildfire country, defensible space around your house is critical.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
Various gun-related links that have accumulated in the link-hopper:

1) A fascinating video about real-world gunshot injuries. It's a bit graphic and has some medical tech, but interesting for writers and policy. Key takeaways: 
chris_gerrib: (Me)
1) As you may have heard, the NRA seems confused as to why the President and his daughters need armed guards. Here's an accurate but snarky response. The key graf:

This does actually reveal an important aspect of the NRA's world view. As far as they're concerned, all of us should act as though we exist in the same security situation as the president of the United States. You may think you're just the assistant regional manager of a widget company, but in fact, a terrorist commando strike force could be coming to lay siege to your home at any moment. Which is why you need to be prepared not just with a gun, but with enough weaponry to hold your own in the two-hour firefight that's just inevitable.

2) Found via dinking around on the Internet - the Night Witches of WWII. They were a Soviet all-female bomber regiment who conducted precision night raids flying biplanes! From the article: A stealth technique of the night bombers was to idle the engine near the target and glide to the bomb release point, with only wind noise to reveal their location. Guts by the gallon.

3) I recently read and enjoyed John J. Lumpkin's SF novel Through Struggle, The Stars. My review of the book is available on POD People.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
Oh For Two

The world has not ended, and the "massive blizzard" that was supposed to dump a ton of snow on Chicago came and went, leaving a light dusting on grassy areas. We're going 0-for-2 on predictions here.

Packing Heat

In the ongoing national debate on gun control, the pro-gun folks argue that we should allow teachers to carry guns at school.  In general, I'm not opposed to arming teachers, and if individual teachers want to get a concealed-carry permit, go for it.  But saying "arming teachers will fix the problem" is a political non-starter.

The best information I have been able to extract out of Google is that between 6 and 8 million Americans have concealed carry permits.  Yes this is skewed down by states like Illinois that don't (yet) allow permits, but it's skewed up by including police in the permit-holders.  Again per Google, there are around 250 million adults in the USA.  So, quick math (8 / 250) tells me 3.2% of Americans are carrying a gun.  Let's round that up to 5%, to catch people carrying without permits or who would if they could.

That means that 95% of Americans aren't regularly armed.  Any argument that says "X group needs to carry a gun" will be responded to by a massive cry of "I don't want to carry a gun!"  This will be followed by "wild west" comparisons.

Although, the "wild west" wasn't that wild - the famous gunfight at the O. K. Corral started because the sheriff was trying to disarm cowboys who were packing in violation of city law. nbsp;This "no guns in town" ordinance was actually quite common in the "wild west" and even the violent cattle towns weren't really that violent.  In short, even in the "wild west" most people didn't walk around with a gun on them.  So, saying the solution to the problem is more guns on the street goes against common sense and history.  It's a non-starter.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
Like the label on the tin says:

A) A long but fascinating article by James Fallows, Carter's speechwriter, on Jimmy Carter's faults as President.

B) From John Hemry, an article about how gluten intolerance can make you crazy.

C) Of interest to gun people - pattern of shotgun pellets at self-defense ranges. Birdshot actually penetrated deeper than buckshot at seven yards.

D) Two related articles from Foreign Policy magazine: the practical impact of China's new aircraft carrier and a discussion about aircraft carriers in space.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
It does look like we're about to get some much-needed rain, though. Let's get right to it then.

A) A review of Temporary Duty, an ebook you should read.

B) Was this Welch woman the first female British author?

C) In thoughts about politics, Fast and Furious myths debunked. Also, the truth about Fast and Furious.

D) Related to the above, a lawyer writing for a pro-gun website explains Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground Laws. Key takeaway? If you shoot somebody in self-defense, you (the shooter) have to prove that you were in the right to shoot.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
So, the site Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that various sources are launching a smear campaign against Treyvon Martin. The fact that the allegations against Martin are neither true nor relevant hasn't slowed them down. One of the comments at Lawyers, Guns and Money asks, "What’s the point of the smear campaign? What is their objective other than to promote racist stereotypes? It’s quite baffling."

The reason to smear Martin is simple. The only clear-cut case for self-defense is if Zimmerman was attacked while walking back to his truck. Anything else quickly gets muddy. The "I was jumped" defense requires you to believe that a 17-year-old, alone and in an unfamiliar environment, launched a vicious attack on an unknown man.

Even Zimmerman’s supporters, consciously or not, find that hard to swallow. Attacking somebody is not a natural act – the military has to spend a lot of time and effort training people to attack. Actually, even real gangs spend significant effort to "toughen up" their members.

So, in order to make Zimmerman’s story fly, Martin needs to be a Gangsta Thugz ™. They need you to believe that Martin was such an outlaw that he’d jump somebody on a sidewalk rather than try to evade. This is especially problematic in that Zimmerman says "I lost him."

So, Martin, after successfully losing Zimmerman, now decides to attack. Not many people would do that. Since his girlfriend who was on the phone tells a different story, expect that, shortly after her name is released, another smear campaign, targeting her.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
So, on Facebook, I was asked to comment about the Trayvon Martin shooting. Since my thoughts don't easily fit on Facebook's abbreviated space, here they are in longer format.

*** I am not a lawyer. Do not rely on this post for legal advice.***

First, Zimmerman (the shooter) was out looking for trouble. There is no legal basis for him to get out of his truck and stop somebody walking down a public sidewalk. Even under Florida law, there is no excuse for Zimmerman to shoot anybody unless he was being actively attacked. "I thought he had a gun" doesn't work, even in movies. The initial police investigation appears to be half-assed at best, a deliberate whitewash at worst. Besides being flat wrong, this is the sort of thing that gives gun owners a bad name.

There is some confusion about Florida's "stand your ground" law. This law essentially says that if you are attacked in some place that you have a right to be, you do not have a "duty to retreat." A duty to retreat is exactly what it sounds like - it's the idea that you should back away from a fight. Now, backing away may be a good tactical and legal decision, but as I read the law, Martin (victim) had no legal requirement to back away from Zimmerman's aggression.

Actually, "standing your ground" is not particularly controversial in legal circles. Illinois has had such a standard since at least 1953. In this short Illinois Supreme Court decision, a murder conviction was overturned, saying, "The defendant was where he had a lawful right to be and it was not his duty to flee, but being assaulted first he had a right to stand his ground and if reasonably apprehensive of serious injury was justified in taking his assailant's life." Or as this legal expert says, it's not Florida's law that's to blame here.

No, what's to blame here are Zimmerman's rash actions and a decision by somebody in the local police to not properly investigate the case.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
As I posted yesterday on Facebook, the USN and USMC re-captured a pirated ship off the Somali coast. The link, from the always-interesting Information Dissemination, provides additional detail not found in most general media outlets, including the level of international involvement and the distinct lack of appetite on the pirates' part to get into a gunfight with the US Marine Corps. Most people who elect to shoot it out with the Marines lose the election.

ETA: First-hand report by Marine Boarding Officer-in-Charge

Also via Information Dissemination, I find a link to the US Naval Institute's blog about the now-open Northeast Passage. With global warming reducing the Arctic summer ice, commercial carriers (in this case, a bulker carrying iron ore) are now starting to make the trip to China via the Arctic Ocean.

Now, I am not a fan of the US Navy's decision to build Littoral Combat Ships (LCS), and I've blogged about that before (including saying what we should be building). Well, the guys at Information Dissemination have put up a post, entitled Red Flags Everywhere, which completely demolishes the LCS concept. Basically, endurance, firepower and armor have all been sacrificed at the altar of speed.

I was once told that the perfect weapon was an easily-deployed system that made all your enemies come out with their hands up while whistling your national anthem. Since we don't live anywhere near perfect, as the commercial says, all weapons systems are compromises. The LCS appears to have compromised too much to get speed - speed that's not militarily useful.

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