chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
So I've expressed before my dislike of the "sheep, wolves and sheepdog" meme. Late yesterday comes news of a white dude who tackles a black dude because the black dude is carrying a gun. Black dude, it turns out, has a legal concealed carry permit.

Needless to say I Am Not Amused. I don't want to focus on the racial aspect (although clearly it was a factor) but rather the sheepdog aspect. Sheepdogs herd, whether or not whatever they're herding needs to be herded. That can be problematic, as in this case, where the appropriate response would have been to just call the cops.

Thus endeth the lesson.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
Some of my readers, especially those of the Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy bent (BTW, note for my controller - I'm still waiting for my check) may remember the case of Margaret Mary Vojtko. She's the 83-year-old adjunct professor at Duquesne University who died in poverty. Well, as this article points out, more than a little of her problems were self-inflicted. When I initially heard of the case, I was somewhat suspicious, since we do have Social Security and Medicare.

Today, I read in Gin and Tacos about a lot of people seem willing to believe anything they read on the Internet. Ed, the author, wonders why his students and others are so unskeptical.

The answer is confirmation bias. People who circulated Vojtko's story wanted to believe that adjunct professors were treated badly. (They actually are, but not as badly as presented.) People who buy the anti-vaccine nonsense want to believe there is a "big pharma" conspiracy. Many George Zimmerman supporters see themselves as protecting society from the Bad Guys (tm) and see Zimmerman as One Of Us.

We all fall victim to confirmation bias from time to time. The only thing I can say is if you want to believe in something, be careful what you accept as evidence for it.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
There's a famous saying attributed to the US Marine Corp: "Once is accident, twice is coincidence and three times is enemy action." So what's four times?

As you may have heard, George Zimmerman has been arrested again on charges of domestic violence. This is the third woman to so accuse him, and the fourth arrest for hitting people (he hit a cop once). As somebody said, "either Zimmerman is the unluckiest guy on earth—surrounded by people who want to cause him harm—or he is an aggressive and confrontational man who knows enough to keep himself out of the criminal justice system."

So, we're supposed to believe that this aggressive and confrontational man would, on a cold and rainy night, not aggressively confront some "fucking punk" walking in Zimmerman's neighborhood? Color me unconvinced.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
A prevalent meme in conservative circles is that people can be categorized into three classes: wolves, or those that prey on others, sheep, or the prey, and sheepdogs. Sheepdogs are here defined as scary people with a capacity for violence who protect the sheep from the wolves. But, as the saying goes, “The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence.” Perhaps left unspoken is that many conservatives see themselves as sheepdogs.

In any event, the meme is not without merit. I do, however, have some concerns about this meme in practice. One of those concerns is that some people think they are sheepdogs when they are really toy poodles.

Take George Zimmerman. Per his statement, a 158-pound kid walked up to him, gave him some lip, then laid him out on his back with one punch. Zimmerman is just over 200 pounds. One would think that somebody with any training, if not common sense, when confronted by a person who was perceived as a threat, would have assumed a defensive posture. This sheepdog apparently wrote a check his body couldn’t cover.

I would hope that, if somebody is breaking into my house, the neighbors would call the police. I would hope that, would I need help, it would be offered, and I hope that I would see when others needed help and offer it. Yet I detect in some human sheepdogs the same sort of over-eagerness that leads border collies to try and herd geese. They are not just willing to help, they are looking to help whether I need it or not.

When the final rules on concealed carry are issued for Illinois, I will probably get a permit. Having gone 40+ years without carrying, I see no reason to start now, but I would like the option. (Call me a porcupine.) My concern is that some number of concealed-carry permit-holders think they’re sheepdogs but are really toy poodles looking to herd some geese.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
I'm taking tomorrow as a personal day - lots of things to do with a new house - so posting may not happen. In the meantime, have some links:

A) May Grace Smack George Zimmerman, or, no Martin's death was not "God's plan." (I think stolen from [livejournal.com profile] jaylake.)

B) From libertarian-at-large Randy Barnett, you can't be a libertarian and in favor of the Confederacy.

C) A reminder - James Madison was not in favor of the Senate. He correctly predicted that it could be made to be dysfunctional.

D) Goodyear is replacing their blimps with zeppelins.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
Various links with occasional commentary:

A) A useful reminder regarding the American criminal justice system: Juries are made up of people, and people are dumber than a bag of hammers. What's that old saying, "Imagine the average American, then remember that half of them aren't even that smart?"

B) Related to above, a note that the media went after the best story in the Zimmerman case, not the actual facts.

C) We tend to think of Victorians, especially British ones, as not really liking sex. Well, when Queen Victoria's doctors told her to stop having kids, she said, "Am I not to have any more fun in bed?"

D) Presented without comment, largely because I haven't had the chance to read the article: Why Miami is doomed to drown.

E) Smurched from [livejournal.com profile] jaylake, who unfortunately has been thinking a lot on the subject: How Doctors Die.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
I'm on record as saying that I don't believe Zimmerman's version of events. I'm also on record as saying that a jury might decide that "reasonable doubt" means buying Zimmerman's version. Apparently they did. I'm generally in agreement with Ta-Nehisi Coates on this - the prosecution had a tough row to hoe, and they didn't get it done. I'm not sure that means that the jury "got it right" but that's a quibble.

There is a saying in gun circles, "better to be judged by twelve than carried by six." It seems that Zimmerman is to be a poster child for that saying, and it reflects the fact that juries are reluctant to convict in self-defense cases. It is also, unfortunately, used all too often in gun-shop bullshit sessions in which questionable advice, legal and tactical, is offered up. I suspect that even as I write this, some people are going to use this case as a reason to do questionable things.

Some of those questionable things are going to get people killed, and not just kids carrying candy. I mean, what if Martin had been a real Gangsta Thugz (tm) and not just playing one in Zimmerman's mind? What if, instead of catching a fist in the nose, Zimmerman had caught a shiv in the gut? The same lack of witnesses that helped Zimmerman would have helped The Real Thug walk away scot-free.

The moral of the story - be careful who you go chasing after with a gun. Bad shit can happen.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
On certain sites, I've been asked "what evidence do you have that suggests George Zimmerman wasn't defending himself?" Now, I will admit that there is no 3rd party who saw everything, and if one came forward at this late date I would look askance at them. I have always maintained that this was not murder or racially-biased, but manslaughter. (You don't call the cops prior to murdering somebody.)

But I don't believe George Zimmerman's story. I think, much like the case in Georgia where a couple was confronted at gunpoint by neighbors and then arrested and forced to spend the night in jail when they tried to move into the home they had just purchased, I think Zimmerman meant well.

Unfortunately, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and Zimmerman's over-eagerness and aggressive desire to catch a "punk who always got away" ended up getting somebody dead.

Zimmerman got out of his truck, not to find a street sign, but, as he told the dispatcher, to follow Martin. He wasn't afraid of Martin, he was angry at him for making him get out into that cold and wet night. Zimmerman assumed Martin was trying to get away, and so when the two finally met, I don't believe Zimmerman said "I don't have a problem with you." More likely, Zimmerman asked what you or I would have asked of a suspicious person in the neighborhood, "who are you?"

I don't believe that Martin, Gangsta Thugz (tm) or not, would just punch a grown man in the face for "dissing" him. There was some altercation, physical or otherwise, prior to the punch. The actual fight was brief - one or two punches - and ended with a surprised and probably pissed Zimmerman on his back.

I don't believe that Zimmerman "forgot" he was carrying a gun. I think that Zimmerman, on his back and in pain because of a "thug," pulled his gun. There was a struggle for that gun, and we know what happened next.

Now, six jurors in Florida may disagree with me, and/or they may decide that reasonable doubt means that they can't convict. And I may be wrong, and Zimmerman's story is the Gospel truth. All I can say is, to believe self-defense, you have to believe Zimmerman. I see no particular reason to do so. To believe Zimmerman's story, you have to believe two people would both do things that don't make any sense.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
Thought The First

Late yesterday came news that the Federal courts have struck down Illinois' ban on concealed carry of guns. As a gun owner, I'm generally in favor of concealed carry. It's important to note that the court gave the state time to pass a law regulating carry. This will undoubtedly mean some sort of licensing scheme, as opposed to willie-nillie "just put it in your pocket."

Thought The Second

There was an interesting article on another blog entitled what risk management taught me about the Treyvon Martin shooting. It's a bit long, but worth the read. Three thoughts in that article that I want to highlight and agree with.

1) From the article: "One of the most important and yet troubling things that risk management has taught me is this: cultures often unintentionally and unknowingly signal tacit approval to people who wish to engage in extreme anti-social behavior." As I've said before, every organization needs a Doctor No - somebody who asks "what if?" The designer of the Titanic did not intend for the ship to sink, yet it did, taking him with it to the bottom.

2) The real villains of the Martin shooting were politicians who passed this law. From the article, " Never mind that it was a law designed to needlessly frighten people, and that didn’t actually solve an existing social problem. (You’ll notice prisons are not exactly overflowing with suburban fathers who shot armed murderers and rapists who were coming at them with knives.)"

3) Even (especially) in questionable cases, you want a full investigation. Assuming Zimmerman was in fact justified in shooting Martin, he'd be in a much better situation had such an investigation been conducted.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
So, as discussed yesterday, various conservative sources are running around with their hair on fire screaming that Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the guy who made the anti-Islam film, is some kind of hero of the First Amendment. Well, besides the fact that the guy is a twice-convicted felon, various sources, including one of the actresses involved in the movie, clearly state that somebody (presumably Nakoula, whom the actress met) overdubbed and radically changed their lines from innocuous to slanderous. In short, from the git-go, this whole "film" was a fraud!

But, he's apparently "our" fraud, so we can't even question him about a possible parole violation.

We're also told that George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who shot Travyon Martin, is clearly justified in his actions. The fact that, prior to Zimmerman inserting himself into the situation, Martin was doing nothing more dangerous than walking while on a cell phone is completely irrelevant. Of course Martin must have launched a completely unprovoked attack on a man his size in a cold rain. Zimmerman says so, and we must believe him.

Not only that, but we must believe that, because Martin apparently had smoked some dope at some point in the past couple of months, Martin was a dangerous dude. But Nakoula, a man convicted of cooking meth is simply a misunderstood person exercising his right to free speech. Martin should have stopped and quietly submitted to any questions put to him by any random dude in the neighborhood, while to ask who exactly paid Nakoula the 100 grand (or whatever money was actually spent on the movie) and why is grounds for a President to resign.

In short, I am amazed at who the Right picks to be their heroes, and what criterion are used to make that decision. I am amazed, but the choices are not inconsistent. They are in fact very consistent.

Nakoula is a hero because he said mean things about Islam. This supports a "bomb them all, God will know his own" mindset. The fact that his video was used as cover to kill Americans, and may have been paid for by people looking for cover to kill Americans, doesn't count. Zimmerman is a hero because he was busily keeping his block safe from the "bad people." The fact that Martin wasn't particularly bad doesn't count.

It seems that many in the Right are a bunch of 15-year-olds bummed that they can't get a tattoo on their ass and run off to Vegas for the weekend with Daddy's credit card. The Republicans are becoming the Beavis and Butt-head Party. They wonder why people aren't willing to vote for them.
chris_gerrib: (Default)

For some reason, I’ve found myself focusing entirely too much on the Zimmerman – Martin shooting.  In an attempt to get it out of my head, I will outline what I think happened and why I think so.  This is long, and the bulk of this post will be behind a cut, but just to be upfront, I do not think Zimmerman is a racist or otherwise evil.  I do think he was over-aggressive and made poor decisions.  Since those decisions and actions ended up in somebody getting killed, it’s only just that Zimmerman answer to his actions in a court of law.  A final disclaimer - this is based on public evidence, so other facts not released my change my assessment.

Read more... )

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)
I feel like I've spent a lot of time on this blog talking about things one shouldn't do with a gun. Thus, I wasn't sure I wanted to do that again, but, well, I've decided that this is my forum to talk about whatever I want to.

So, this site has a timeline and a map of the Martin - Zimmerman shooting. The site points out that there are two and a half "missing minutes" in which we have no clear idea what happened between Zimmerman and Martin. It then goes on to posit two confrontations between the pair - one at Zimmerman's truck and the fatal one in the grass. The bottom line to me, though, is clear - Zimmerman did not go directly back to his truck (or if he did, he got out of it) and Martin did not go directly home.

If the shooter in a gun fight is telling one lie, then it's reasonable to question what else is a lie. It's also worth noting that, based on Zimmerman's apology, he assumed Martin was armed. If you have a gun, and you're chasing after somebody you think has a gun, where is your gun hand?

Don't get me wrong - Martin could still have attacked Zimmerman. More likely is that Martin pushed Zimmerman back, which could explain (the as-yet unproven) cut to Zimmerman's head. But a push is not cause for lethal force, and there are a lot of ways for things to go wrong. Most of those ways end up with Zimmerman guilty of manslaughter.

Don't go chasing after people with a gun.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
You may have heard about the Georgia couple that were held at gunpoint while trying to access their new house. What you may not have heard is that the two "concerned citizens" Robert and Branden Canoles, who did the holding are now cooling their heels in the county jail charged with several felonies.

Long-time readers know that I own guns and support the Second Amendment. I also remember what my daddy told me, which was, "don't point a gun at somebody unless you're prepared to kill them." Apparently the Canoles family was never imparted this bit of wisdom.

See, the house that the Canoles were so vigorously defending had been foreclosed. It was unoccupied and presumably empty, and had been on the market for some time. In short, there was nothing and nobody in the house worth anybody's life. Calling the police was a perfectly reasonable response. I might have walked over and asked what was going on. I might even have put a pistol in my pocket while doing so, in case I was attacked. But unless somebody came at me with a weapon, my gun (if I chose to carry) would stay in my pocket.

Don't point a gun at somebody unless you are prepared to kill them. Don't try to scare them with a gun. You may succeed, and they may respond violently at you. They may be crazy, in which case God only knows what they will do. Unless they are clearly and convincingly threatening your life or the life of another, don't point a gun at them.

Here endeth the lesson.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
So, we were told that George Zimmerman was "in the fight of his life" the night he shot Treyvon Martin. Martin had broken Zimmerman's nose on the first punch, and was pounding Zimmerman's head against the concrete sidewalk.

Now, we've got video of Zimmerman walking into the police station after the fight. It's reasonably clear video, and noticeable for what it doesn't show.

There are no visible marks on Zimmerman. No cuts, no bruises, no bandages, no blood. Remember, Zimmerman is claiming head injuries! Where's the blood? If Zimmerman was claiming that he got hit in the gut, that would be different. But head injuries bleed. Profusely. Also missing are the grass stains on the back of his jacket.

Tell me again, Mr. Zimmerman, what happened out there?
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.

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