Jun 292013

Some months ago, in a fit of  “something must be done,” President Obama fired off a bunch of Executive Orders that were supposed to have some impact on firearms crimes. one of those orders directed the Centers for Disease Control to study firearms crimes, and how that impact public health. The National Academy of Sciences has just put out their report:

Priorities for Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related Violence

Where we learn:

Defensive uses of guns by crime victims is a common occurrence,
although the exact number remains disputed (Cook and Ludwig, 1996;
Kleck, 2001a). Almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive
gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by
criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to
more than 3 million per year (Kleck, 2001a), in the context of about
300,000 violent crimes involving firearms in 2008 (BJS, 2010). On the
other hand, some scholars point to radically lower estimate of only
108,000 annual defensive uses based on the National Crime Victimization
Survey (Cook et al., 1997). The variation in these numbers remains a controversy in the field. The estimate of 3 million defensive uses per
year is based on an extrapolation from a small number of responses taken
from more than 19 national surveys. The former estimate of 108,000 is
difficult to interpret because respondents were not asked specifically
about defensive gun use.
A different issue is whether defensive uses of guns, however numerous
or rare they may be, are effective in preventing injury to the gunwielding
crime victim. Studies that directly assessed the effect of actual
defensive uses of guns (i.e., incidents in which a gun was “used” by the
crime victim in the sense of attacking or threatening an offender) have
found consistently lower injury rates among gun-using crime victims
compared with victims who used other self-protective strategies (Kleck,
1988; Kleck and DeLone, 1993; Southwick, 2000; Tark and Kleck,

 None of this is particularly new news to those who have been paying attention. Political hacks working to disarm the citizenry repeatedly trot out the line that a gun in the home is more likely to be used to kill a family member than to kill an intruder; but this of course ignores the fact that a gun can deter a violent intruder or other criminal *without* actually killing him. A “defensive use” of a gun might be to blow the back of a rapists skull off, but it might just as easily be the simple pointing of a gun at said rapist, or racking the slide of a shotgun. These actions will quite often cause your average criminal to decide to cease current operations and go somewhere else.

What *is* news is that this is an official response to a White House directive. One can hope (but little more than hope) that some reporter with actual integrity and courage will use this report to demand a response from Obama.


 Posted by at 1:01 pm
Jun 292013

While there are many problems with government controlled, and even government influenced, healthcare, one of the most glaring is the fact that you wind up with bureaucrats running the show. Not bureaucrats who wound up as such after years spent actually in the industry in question, rather you wind up with bean-counting drones who are just better at bean-counting, BSing and backstabbing. As an example, here’s a description of a program the British Ministry of Health ran for some years that anyone with any sense at all would have aborted while the idea was still a defenseless embryo:

Gone for a decade: The invalid carriage

In short: just after WWII, Britain had a bunch of former servicemen who had been badly and permanently injured, making it difficult for them to get around. The Ministry of Health saw this problem and decided Something Must Be Done. In truly bleeding-heart fashion, that Something was to Give Them A Car. Not sell, not loan, not lease or rent or give tax breaks, but Give Them A Car. OK, whatever. But in true bureaucrat fashion, these were not standard cars. They were not even standard cars that had been modified to make it easier for people with wheelchairs and the like to get in and operate. Oh, no. These were specially designed, brand-new terrible cars. They were one-seater cars, so the poor cripples could not carry anyone else (the logic being, I suppose, who’d want to be seen with a cripple?). Plus, they were badly designed out of crappy materials. They were, essentially, the British version of the Trabant… but with one less wheel. Yeah. They were tricycles.

And apparently they liked to burst into flames. If you are “mobility impaired,” I guess having your car spontaneously combust might incentivize you to put a move on, discover reserves of agility you might have suspected were long gone.

The program dragged on for quite a while, finally being suspended in 1976. But people kept driving these deathtraps until 2003, when they were finally banned from British roads.

So, what can we expect from future government controlled healthcare? Free condoms, to be sure, but can we be certain that they won’t be made with fiberglass splinters and won’t spontaneously combust when exposed to, say, moisture? Free heart transplants, but with an ever-increasing anti-discrimination regime, you get simply whatever heart is  in the hospitals fridge (how dare you suggest discriminating on the basis of blood type!)?

 Posted by at 12:02 pm
Jun 282013

Got an email from Well Known And Well Respected Professional Science Fiction Author today. In short: it has promise, with some work could be made publishable in something like Analog (woo!). The primary source of “needs work” is an excess of verbage and description early on. It drags, takes too long to get where it needs to go. A fair critique. So, it’s back to the word processor…


 Posted by at 8:49 am
Jun 272013

CNN today has been breathlessly reporting on the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman trial. The thing that seems to have grabbed their attention the most is the fact that the prosecutions star witness just took a giant dump on the prosecutions case:

Trayvon Martin’s Friend: ‘Creepy-Ass Cracker’ Comment Not Racist

Now, on the one hand claims that “cracker” is not a racist term are patently ridiculous. On the other hand, most people just don’t care. However, so much ink and pixels and soundbites ahve been devoted to this issue that I’d be willing to bet that we’re going to see the rise of “creepy ass cracker” as a term to soon appear in large numbers on bumper stickers, buttons, tee-shirts and the like. I think few things will do better work to make sure that happens than those on the left/anti-Zimmerman side who are bound and determined to convince people that “cracker” isn’t a racist term worthy of attention. For example, this hysterical screed:

Who cares if Trayvon Martin called George Zimmerman a “creepy ass cracker”? White grievance-mongers, that’s who

What has been demonstrated here is that it was Martin his own self who introduced race into the confrontation. This is a fact that the witness hid for more than a year. The most likely explanation for that, despite her protestation to the contrary, is that she knew it at the very least made Martin look bad.

Is “cracker” considered as bad as “the N-Word?” No, and it’s due to the fact that those who would be described as “cracker” just don;t care enough to get all that upset. Words, after all, have no actual power; despite millenia of magical thinking with people trying to remake reality via incantation, there are, as yet, no words or sounds that are inherently dangerous or damaging. But to claim that a word doesn’t mean what it’s widely known to mean is just stooopid.


An exercise for the student: compare and contrast with Paula Deen.

 Posted by at 5:44 pm