The view from outside

O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
From Bookworm Room, links to travel guides for people visiting the U.S. from Japan, Russia, and France.

HB 60 -- Different Views from Two Gun Rights Organizations

Georgia has just passed its first new gun law in some years, HB 60. As someone who receives a lot of email from various Georgia legislative lobbies, I'm struck by the differential on how the two leading gun rights organizations in Georgia are portraying this bill.

Georgia: Historic Victory for the Second Amendment

...Your gun rights were not only preserved this year, but were restored and advanced further than they ever have in the history of the Peach State. This truly is an historic day for Georgia gun owners, shooters and sportsmen....

This resounding victory must first and foremost be credited to our members, who tirelessly worked to ensure that passage of this bill was possible. We also thank the following state lawmakers who went above and beyond this year and were critical in seeing this bill through to the end...
Georgia Gun Owners:
In the end, Republicans at the Capitol caved to internal and extrenal forces [Michael Bloomberg's anti-gun groups] and gutted the bill of clean "church carry," any form of "campus carry," refused to allow committee hearings or a vote on "constitutional carry," and continue to leave our children unprotected, sitting ducks at thousands of elementary, middle and high schools in the state.

In one of the most Republican-dominated legislatures in the country, Republicans caved on core Second Amendment issues, more scared of the media and Michael Bloomberg than their actual constituents....

Nathan Deal, Lt. Governor Cagle, and other establishment Republicans played politics with your gun rights for four years, passing and signing just one gun bill during that time.

Ironically, a gun bill passed this year, when Deal needed it the most -- in an election year when he's out looking for votes and endorsements of gun groups.

If Deal is re-elected, expect four more years of his administration working to kill gun legislation.
GGO bills itself as Georgia's only "no-compromise" gun rights organization, and clearly it is that. This was an NRA-ILA bill, and they got it through in part by yielding up a lot of the things GGO wanted.

I have some concerns about the mental health requirements, not because they are especially onerous, but because there's simply no way to prove one's mental health. If it comes to be questioned, even if there is a relief process through the courts, there is going to be a crap-shoot aspect to the process: relief will depend on drawing a good judge or jury. Mental health doesn't admit of lab tests, or certainty in diagnosis, or really any form of genuine proof at all. If you are put on the list, you just may never get back off again no matter what you do or how deserving you are.

That said, I understand why people worry so much about mental cases with guns. It's a kind of tragedy that we don't have a better way of understanding mental health than we do, here as elsewhere.

Trapping carbon

I'd very much like to hear Douglas's views on this.

Get on with it

More from Maggie's Farm this morning.  Mark Steyn has no patience with his co-defendants' plodding and traditional approach to defending the absurd defamation lawsuit brought by warmenist Michael Mann, who resents the ridicule he received at Steyn's hands a few years back.  Steyn is champing at the bit to review the documents that Mann is obligated to supply as part of the discovery phase of the trial, which Steyn's co-defendants are trying to delay, as corporate defendants typically do, while they seek dismissal of the lawsuit.
I think it ought to be possible to litigate a 270-word blog post in under 270 weeks.  So let's get on with it.
Steyn adds:
Kind readers continue to ask about my "legal defense fund".  I don't have one, in part because I'm now on legal offense.
Steyn has countersued Mann for $30 million.  That puts him more in the position of a plaintiff, and plaintiffs typically pursue discovery aggressively.  Anyone inspired to contribute is welcome to click on his website and buy books or commemorative objects.

Issues that fly under the radar

In an interesting examination of why some "controversies" soak up all the media attention while others are nearly invisible, Scott Sumner lists seven policies that, in his experience, no one has ever heard of.
  1. Federal coastal flood insurance.
  2. Zoning laws forcing the construction of parking lots.
  3. Restrictions on taxi medallions.
  4. Quotas on sugar imports.
  5. Huge urban/rural water price differentials.
  6. Restrictions of the ability of foreign air carriers to serve US markets.
  7. Occupational licensing restrictions where there is no public policy purpose.
I drew a blank on 2., 5., and 6.

Friday Night AMV

Speaking of satire, you don't often see it as obvious as this. Heh.


A serious problem in Britain:
New NHS figures indicate a ‘long-term downward trend’ in alcohol consumption. But medical experts have warned that Britons who are not either slightly drunk or hungover will be unable to mentally process the awfulness that surrounds them.

Doctor Tom Logan said: “I’m seeing patients who are very agitated and confused. They’re convinced that everyone is pretty hostile, the country is run by shady criminals and Essex is a real place.

“I have to explain that all these notions are entirely accurate, but they’re just noticing for the first time because they’re off the sauce.

We must introduce a minimum alcohol intake – I’d suggest three pints per day – to provide a ‘booze cushion’ against the awfulness of reality."
It's a satire. Of course it is.

Sly's Breakfast Cookies

For those of you eagerly awaiting the recipe, traffic follows.
1 c. butter
1 1/2 c. sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c. flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
4 1/2 c. quick-cooking oatmeal
1 1/2 c. grated cheese
15-20 slices cooked and crumbled bacon

Cream butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla together. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Stir into creamed mix. Stir in oatmeal, cheese and bacon.
Bake on greased cookie sheet at 350 until lightly browned on the edges...about 7-10 min.
Let cool completely before trying to take them off the pan as they will fall apart otherwise.

Jeeves disapproves

We've been enjoying episodes of Wooster and Jeeves, with Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry as young sprouts.

Shortly after that last scene, we see members of Wooster's club dancing the "Newt" to the tune of "47 Ginger-Haired Sailors."

We're All Going To Die

"Although the study is largely theoretical[.]"

Municipal competence

Only Detroit could lose money on parking tickets.

So runne the excellente menne their race

From the adventures of Cortez in Mexico, before he even meets Montezuma.  You get the idea there's a lot missing from the story from the point of view of the other characters:
At that time one Iuan Xuarez natural of the Citie of Granada, carried to the Ile of Cuba his mother and thrée sisters, whiche came to the Iland of Santo Domingo, with that vicequéene the Lady Mary of Toledo, in Anno .1509. hoping to marrie them there with rich men, for they were very poore. And the one of them named Cathelina was wont to say, That she shoulde be a greate Gentlewoman: it was eyther hyr dreames and fantasies, or else some Astronomer hadde made hir beléeue so, but hir mother was reported to bée very cunning. The maydens were beautifull, for which cause, and also being there but fewe Spanishe women, they were muche made of, and often feasted. But Cortez was woer to the saide Cathelina, and at the ende married with hir: Although at the first there was some strife about the matter, and Cortez put in prison, bycause he refused hir for his wife, but she demaunded him as hir husband by faith and troth of hand. . . .  Contrariwyse Iames Velasques gaue credit to his talebearers, bicause Cortez refused to marrie [with] Cathelina Xuarez, & vsed vncourteous words vnto him in ye presence of many that stoode by . . . . 
And when Cortez sawe himselfe in the stockes, he feared some proces of false witnesse, as many times dothe happen in those parties. At time conueniente he brake the locke off the stockes, and layde hand upon the Sword and Target of the kéeper, and brake up a windowe, escaping thereby into the stréete, and tooke the Church for Sanctuary. But when Iaymes Velasques had notice thereof, he was greatlye offended with Christopher Lagos the Jayler, saying, that for money he had losed him: wherefore he procured by al meanes to plucke him out of the Sanctuary. But Cortez hauing intelligence of his dealing, did resiste and withstand his force. Yet notwithstanding one daye Cortez walking before the Churche dore, and being carelesse of his businesse, was caught by the backe with a Serieant called Iohn Esquier and others, and then was put aboorde a Shyppe vnder hatches. 
Cortez was welbeloued among his neighboures, who did well consider the euill will that the Gouernour bare vnto him. But nowe Cortez séeing himselfe vnder hatches, despaired of his libertie, and did verily thinke, that he shoulde be sent prisoner to the Chancerie of Santo Domingo, or else to Spayne, who being in this extremitie, soughte all meanes to get hys foote out of the chayne, and at length he gote it out, and the same nighte he changed his apparell with a ladde that serued him, and by the Pump of the Shippe he gote out, not heard of any his kéepers, climbing softly along the Shippe syde, he entred the Skiffe and went hys way therewith, and bycause they shoulde not pursue after him, he losed the Boate of another Shippe that roade by them. The Currant of Macaguanigua a riuer of Barucoa, was so fierce, that he could not gette in with his Skiffe, bicause he had no help to row, & was also very werie, fearing to be drowned if he should put himselfe to the land, wherefore he stripped himselfe naked, and tyed a nyght-kerchiefe aboute hys head, with certayne wrytings apperteyning to his office of Notarie and Clearkshippe to the Treasourer, and other things that were agaynst the Gouernoure Iames Velasques, and in this sorte swamme to lande, and wente home to hys owne house, and spake with Iohn Xuarez hys brother in law, and tooke Sanctuarie agayne with Armour. 
Then the Gouernoure Iames Velasques sente hym worde, that all matters shoulde bée forgotten, and that they shoulde remayne friendes, as in tyme past they hadde bin, and to goe with hym to the Warres agaynste certayne Indians that hadde rebelled. Cortez made hym no aunswere, but incontinent married with mistresse Catalina Xuarez according to his promise, and to lyue in peace. Iames Velasques procéeded on hys iourney wyth a greate companye agaynste the Rebelles. 
Then sayde Cortez to hys brother in lawe Iohn Xuares, bryng me (quoth he) my Launce and my Crosbowe to the Townes ende. And so in that euening hée wente out of Sanctuarie, and taking hys Crossebowe in hande, hée wente with his brother in lawe to a certayne Farme, where Iames Velasques was alone, with his householde seruauntes, for hys armye was lodged in a Village thereby, and came thither somewhat late, and at suche tyme as the Gouernoure was perusing hys Booke of charges, and knocked at his dore which stoode open, saying: Héere is Cortez that woulde speake with the Gouernoure, and so wente in. 
When Iames Velasques sawe hym armed, and at such an houre, he was maruellously afrayde, desiring hym to rest hymselfe, and also to accepte hys Supper: No Sir (quoth he) my onely comming is, but to knowe the complayntes you haue of me, and to satisfye you therein, and also to bée youre friende and seruitor. They then embraced eache other in token of friendship. And after long talke, they lay both in one bedde, where Iames de Orrelano founde them, who went to carrie newes to the Gouernoure, how Cortez had fledde. 
After this sort came Cortez agayne to his former friendshyppe with Iames Velasques, and procéeded with him to the Warres, but afterwarde at his returne, he was lyke to haue bin drowned in the sea: For as he came from the Caues of Bani to visite certayne of hys Shepheardes and Indians that wrought in the Pines of Barrucoa where his dwelling was, his Canoa or little boate ouerthrew, being night, and halfe a league from land, with tempeste, wherby he was put to his shiftes, and forced to swimme, and happened to espye lyght that certayne Shepheardes had which were at supper néere the Sea side. By suche like perils and daungers, runne the excellente menne their race, vntill that they arriue at the Hauen where their good lotte is preserued.

Don't stand up

Can't get enough of books about how people behave in a crisis.  Why? you might wonder, since I've practically never faced a crisis.  Anyway, it's an obsession.  I'm enjoying Amanda Ripley's book "The Unthinkable."  Here's brief advice from a Kansas City fireman:
Richard Gist, a psychologist with the fire department, has had to notify hundreds of Kansas City residents that a family member has died in a fire.  Over and over again, they ask him why their loved one didn't simply walk out of the door or climb out the window.  They have no concept of what it would be like to be in a fire.  "I very frequently find myself standing with the survivors in a burned home explaining how their loved one died.  They say 'Why didn't they just...?'  You have to explain to them that it was 2:00 A.M., and they woke up out of a dead sleep."  If you wake up in heavy, hot smoke and stand up, you're already dead from scorched lungs.  You have to roll out of bed and crawl to an exit, not an easy thing to remember.  That's why Gist spends much of his time trying to get people to put batteries in their smoke detectors and practice evacuating before a fire, so that escaping becomes automatic.  Echoing every disaster expert I've ever met, Gist says, "If you have to stop and think it through, then you will not have time to survive."
Ripley looked into survival rates for the flooded areas of New Orleans during Katrina.  Neither race nor income was a good predictor, nor does she attribute the disaster primarily to the incompetence of local officials. At least half of survivors readily admitted they could have left if they'd really wanted to, so why didn't they?  Age was a strong predictive factor.  Ripley has two theories.  One is that people of a certain age had weathered Hurricanes Betsy in 1965 and Camille in 1969, leading to a fatal misapprehension of the risk from Katrina.  Those hurricanes, she suggests, killed more people in 2005 than when they hit in 1965 or 1969, just from their impact on attitudes.  (The flip side is that twice as many people as expected evacuated during Rita a few week later, an over-reaction that led to its own problems.)  Another theory is that many of us, as we age, because gradually less capable of acting decisively to turn our routines on their heads.  Heaven knows I don't think we could dislodge my mother-in-law from her house with dynamite, even if a Category 5 storm were bearing directly down on her.  We'd have to slip her a Micky and carry her out.

Age aside, though, and strangely, in many fires people don't leap for the exits the way you'd guess they might.  You'd like them to go all Jason Bourne, springing into action a nanosecond after perceiving the threat, but instead they stop, consider, mill around, and sometimes inexplicably become rooted to the spot, even before you take into account the intense panic and disorientation that come with heavy smoke.  Ripley's Kansas City contact told her about training sessions in which young firefighters were made to crawl blindly through smoke until they were tangled in wires, from which they had to cut themselves loose.  The very thought makes me want to get up this instant and walk outside, but who knows whether I'd go rigid in the grip of the wires, or take maniacally effective action to break free?  I still vividly remember the feral crouch my brain went into when I underwent smoke-filled tunnel training.  I kept moving purposefully, but only by an extreme effort of will that didn't leave much room for high-level cognition.  I'll never understand how people can spelunk.

"That Bourne--he's hard to catch."

On Leadership

We've just had a long discussion on what leadership isn't over at Cass' place. Nick at Ranger Up has some ideas on what it is. They're military focused, but we can probably break out the principles for other sorts of leadership roles -- parenthood, church, community leadership, or perhaps even leadership lessons that apply in different sorts of corporate organization in spite of differences in corporate culture.

One thing I don't see in Nick's list is any presumption that position = authority = respect. You can come to find yourself in a position for which you are unqualified (especially in the case of parenthood!). Your authority to hold that position has to be earned through hard work. The respect that comes from doing your job well does not belong by right to just anyone holding the position. The position is an opportunity, not an entitlement.

An Experiment

For those of you who are parents, try this experiment. See what you get.

The right answer should be obvious to the child if you've done your job.

Not Keeping The Money

Several Georgia congressmen decided that they shouldn't keep their public salaries during the recent shutdown. They differed on what to do with the money, however.
Rep. Jack Kingston (R) said he donated his salary to his church, per a spokesperson.
Rep. Doug Collins (R) donated his salary to three different groups in Gainesville.
Rep. Phil Gingrey (R) wrote a check to the U.S. Treasury.
Rep. John Barrow (D) donated $5,936 to the Wounded Warrior project, according to the Washington Post.
That reads like only Re. Gingrey was reasoning that it was wrong to accept money from the taxpayers for duties not performed. The others didn't accept personal enrichment, but chose to pursue other (all quite worthy) goals.

What do you think is the right course?

About sums it up for me

From Jazz Shaw.

Maps and time

This kind of animated map has been making the rounds lately, as people struggle to understand Islam, or the Crimea.  What's more engrossing for me is the splintered condition of Germany between the late 15th and late 18th centuries.  Once they got it together, look out!

I wonder if Germany really was exceptional in its disunity during that time, or if it's more an artifact of the map-drawer's decisions about graphics.  Someone here who's less ignorant of post-14th-century European may be able to help me.


A beautiful piece, to end the day.

For Those Who Might Want Coffee Tomorrow...

...a delightful exploration of the magic of caffeine.

"If I had Bill Gates's resources . . . ."

Via Assistant Village Idiot, a hilarious article about Bill Gates's failure to measure up to rarified standards of philanthropy.  Apparently he saves millions of lives with his own money, but his progressive principles are lacking.  Even more hilarious comments.  "Well, if someone gave me his money, I'd be even more idealistically generous!"

Éirinn go Brách

"Ireland forever." Should I be wearing orange today?  I fear my ancestors were confirmed Ulstermen, nothing like romantic Irish revolutionaries.  I turned to the internet this morning to find out what and how I should be celebrating.  It informs me that "Éirinn go Brách," or rather the Anglicized "Erin go bragh," showed up on the flag of some deserting Americans, including Irishmen, who went over the Mexican side in the Mexican-American War, calling themselves Los San Patricios, or St. Patrick's Batallion. Always on the losing side of history, poor fellows, which explains the humorous translation of "It's Irish for you're f**cked."

The Wiki entry also clears up a long-term mystery about crossword puzzle clues, which may be asking for either "Erin" or "Eire" in referring to the Ould Sod. It seems that Eire is nominative, but the dative form "Erin" is used colloquially even as the subject of a sentence. Back to the proper method of celebrating today. I can remember singing "The Wearing of the Green" in elementary school, back when there was music in elementary school and traditional songs of this sort could be sung without spurring a federal investigation. I understand Lenten restrictions are lifted for the day, which encourages alcohol consumption. An Irish Member of Parliament introduced legislation to close the bars on March 17 to prevent drinking from getting out of hand, a measure that must have been inspired by some truly legendary drinking in order to have excited comment in Ireland.

All in all, I don't find any trace of North-vs.-South tension in the traditional acknowledgements of the day, so I feel free to pull out my tin whistles, wear green, and listen to this:


Happy St. Patty's Day!

The Deer's Cry

St. Patrick's Day is not what many think it is, but it is a good day.

The way models make us feel is the important thing

From Maggie's Farm, a memoir of World War II:
“Some of my colleagues had the responsibility of preparing long-range weather forecasts, i.e., for the following month,” Arrow wrote.  “The statisticians among us subjected these forecasts to verification and found they differed in no way from chance.” 
Alarmed, Arrow and his colleagues tried to bring this important discovery to the attention of the commanding officer.  At last the word came down from a high-ranking aide. 
“The Commanding General is well aware that the forecasts are no good,” the aide said haughtily.  “However, he needs them for planning purposes.”


Looking past the secular piety in this NYT article on Ukraine and game theory, a lesson:
[A]fter the Soviet Union split into many pieces in the 1990s, a newly independent Ukraine gave up its portion of the old Soviet nuclear arsenal. In part, it did so in exchange for a memorandum supporting its territorial integrity, signed by both Russia and the United States.

Eliminating its nuclear weapons may have seemed a good deal for Ukraine at the time, and it can be argued that the world became a safer place. Yet if Ukraine were a nuclear power today, it would surely have a far greater ability to deter Russian military action.
Those who beat their swords into plowshares will eventually be enslaved by those who kept their swords.

Coal Country Just Says "No"

You can push people only so far, and then they may start examining deeply held assumptions about who's on the side of the angels after all.  The 7th most senior member of the House is polling badly against a Republican challenger in West Virginia.

There's the usual attempt to blame shadowy billionaires from New York.  Those Koch brothers are behind everything.  My own sister sends me emails complaining about them.  She thinks they're behind an initiative to destroy the union she works for--by eliminating the union's right to collect dues from people who'd rather not join.  It's a subject I've learned not to discuss with her, beyond reassuring her that the Pennsylvania initiative she's worried about doesn't appear to be getting any traction.  Let people make a free decision whether to join a union?  That's crazy talk.