Saturday, June 28, 2003

What is Thumbing?

I went to and downloaded the Analysis Target. When I tried it my shots tended to hit in the C region which is notated as thumbing. Hmm. Googling brought up this PDF file, which says that thumbing is "applying too much, or inconsistent pressure with the thumb." This PDF says "Thumbing (Squeezing Thumb) or, Too Much Trigger Finger". Yet another PDF offers multiple causes. I could be snatching, anticipating, lacking followthrough, pulling, heeling or thumbing. Woh. I'll have to ask an experienced shooter to critique my technique.

Friday, June 27, 2003

Little Pitchers Have Big Ears And Other Attempts To Control Thought

Both John Derbyshire and Kim Du Toit complain about a teacher who bowdlerized a song title into 'When the Band Comes Marching In'. This attempt to control thought by revising truth, history or someone else's creative efforts is rather tiresome. Thomas Bowdler did it to Shakespeare. Disney does it, for marketing reasons, to almost everything they touch. Urgh the Large, Chief of the Sunny Valley Clan probably said to Hunh, Shaman of the Anterled One, "Say, Hunh, could you tone down the Antlered One's dance in the fall festival. I don't like the way my oldest daughter was watching him last year."

I think bowdlerization is sometimes useful for small children, but not very often. Most adults rightfully resent being treated like children in this way. The idea that we should twist the truth in service of the good is an old one, and very suspect. One reason is that the truth is relatively easy to determine, but the good is not. Destroying something of known value in the service of something of unknown value sounds like A Bad Deal to me.

Update, 9 July: How could I have missed linking to Connie du Toit's thoughts on this subject? What she has to say is more important than anything John, Kim or I said, especially with all the links to Rachel Lucas on WWII.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Hollywood Endorses the Shotgun

Sofia Sideshow commented a while back about how a shotgun is Hollywood's weapon of choice when it comes to dealing with monsters. I wonder what Rachel Lucas, Kim du Toit or Kevin Baker at The Smallest Minority would have to say about this.

Update: Here is what Keven Baker had to say. He says it well, so go read it. Now I want a Mossberg 590. I thought I'd just get a Long Gun Vault, but it won't fit my Winchester Model 25 or my Ithaca Model 37, neither or which is meant for home defense. The Winchester appears to have a 28 inch barrel! (How do you measure a shotgun barrel?) Here is what Kim du Toit had to say in reply. My underlying thought is that at some deep visceral level, Hollywood gets it. That when confronted by a real monster (which in real life are all men) firepower is a good thing.

Why Air-Conditioning Is Considered Barnyard Humor At My House

The very funny Big-Arm Woman from Tightly Wound has a wonderful anecdote about The Boy discovering his privates. My mom thought it would be funny to teach my girls to describe flatulence as 'ventilation'. Now we can't talk about heating and air-conditioning without little giggles bursting forth.

Tools Needed

I must find a spell-checker for Blogger.

Update: Yahoo mail has a spell checker, as long as I don't mind cut and paste.

Knee Jerk Conservatism

Reflexive political responses afflict all of us, not just the left. Kim du Toit probably thought out this post in a considered fashion, but it does look suspiciously like the Bill Clinton hard rubber mallet impacted Kim's conservative right knee. Kim saw red because the Chicago Sun-Times reported that:
Former President Bill Clinton on Tuesday pointed his finger at the Bush administration, saying it is erasing accomplishments that he worked hard to achieve.

As conservatives we need to remember that Bill Clinton did work hard for at least two Good Things that Reagan and Bush did not, and that earned him no gratitude from his political base or from conservatives. The first is Welfare Reform. (Hip, hip! Hooray! Hip, hip! Hooray! Hip, hip! Hooray!) The second was to make the budget closer to balanced. I know he says that he created a Surplus, but I do not believe politicians who play games with Social Security revenue in order to claim the budget is balanced. An unsecured loan from the 'Social Security lockbox' to the General fund means that there is no 'Social Security lockbox'. Do private pension funds get away with similar shenanigans? (Sadly, yes, but when found out sometimes people get locked up.)

Our current President, to my chagrin, is erasing the second accomplishment.

In addition, if Clinton's comments are considered objectively, we must acknowledge that people with character flaws, even disgusting character flaws, can want to do good and can try hard to do good. Futhermore people can be mistaken about what is good and can work hard to implement their mistakes. It will distress them if their hard work is later undone, because they still don't realize their original hard work was in service of a Bad Idea. In addition, some of Clinton's accomplishments really were good, and it is too bad Bush is rolling them back. Thus Clinton's remarks are perfectly appropriate. I would not be surprised if Mr. Bush made similar remarks during a subsequent Democratic administration. (I hope I am wrong, either because there is no subsequent Democratic administration, or because the Democratic Party takes a hard turn to the right.)

Kim is definitively right about this ex-Presidential thought:
He encouraged the mostly black audience to vote for leaders who have their best interests at heart.

If said to a White audience this would provoke indignant outcries. I, on the other hand, also wish the mostly black audience would vote for leaders who have their best interests at heart. They could vote for leaders who want to stop filling our best colleges with under qualified minorities who are forced to drop out. They could vote for leaders who are not in thrall to the National "No Teacher Left Behind" Education Association and who support ways to improve public schools, such as home-schooling, vouchers, same-sex classes, home-schooling, vouchers, phonics, home-schooling, vouchers, appropriate corporal punishment, home-schooling, vouchers, leaving sex-education (and other time-wasters) out, home-schooling and vouchers. They could vote for leaders who thought law-abiding citizens had a right to self-defense and a right to the means of self defense. I could go on...

There is a quote at the end of the article upon which Kim did not comment, but I must:
"He gave insight to things that we overlook," said Ryan Fields, 20, a Morehouse College student from the Beverly neighborhood. "It's like the Trojan horse. The [enemy] warriors are coming out at night, and that could mean slavery, if we allow it."

Conservatives do not want to return to slavery. Personally, I find this both insulting and absurd. I am not so unethical as to want to own another human being, and I am in favor of fighting slavery whatever it is found (Sudan, Saudi Arabia, most Communist countries, most repressive dictatorships, brothels in the U.S.). It is absurd considering how hard it is to get my children (who love and respect me and who are generally obedient) to obey me. Why would I want to be in charge of a bunch of adults who hate my guts enough to spit in my lemonade and who will be infinitely more capable of wreaking creative mischief? I prefer free peers, thank you very much.

Update: I modified this post to be less insulting to the NEA. The NEA is just a union. They work to protect the jobs of existing union members, as well as to promote hiring more. They may work to improve education when their primary goals are met, but they have an automatic negative reaction to all ideas which lead to less union jobs, such as home-schooling. They also will tend to promote teaching at earlier and earlier ages. I would have no problem with this position as long as it was considered as purely as a union power-grab and stood no chance of being adopted. Since the NEA has (more or less) coopted the Democratic Party and there is a chance of these ideas being adopted, I have a big problem with that. Parents need more say over their children's education today, not less.

Sunday, June 22, 2003

Flanders Fields Shines Beautifully Too

Read about Cherry-Picking in the Golan Heights from the Truth Laid Bear's New Weblog Showcase. It is good to know that war torn and lovely are not mutually exclusive.

Blogger Problem #1

Sigh. Blogger is cutting off my blog in the middle.

Update: The problem was with the SiteMeter code I added. It wanted to be in the main body, not the sidebar.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Why Johnny Can't Get a Degree

Maybe this will help as noted by the Smallest Minority. I worry about American boys. I did OK in school, since I am a studious type. Loving to read certainly helps. Boys in America get too much Ritalin, too much male-bashing and too little consideration for their learning styles. Now Jane outnumbers Johnny at every level in our colleges. Not good.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

I Worship Athena, not Ares

Glenn Reynolds references his pre-war thoughts. Still compelling to me. Think I'll ask my mom (my archetype for a principled anti-war person) what she thinks of it.

Guns in My House

Rachel Lucas discusses why people who refuse to keep a gun in their home are insane. I am presently insane in this way, since I keep my guns unloaded and locked up. Her next post on the subject points out that people who prefer to rely on the police rather than keep a gun are like those who prefer to rely on the fire department rather than keep a fire extinguisher. I have a similiar delusion, where I avoid going to the doctor because I don't want him/her to tell me how to change my habits to improve my health. I'm going to live forever, right?

Our current solution is to have an alarm system. Next we will get a dog. Even so, I want a loaded self-defense gun in our house, secured so that only my spouse and I can access it. I want both of us to be able to use it correctly, and as our daughters grow I want them to learn to use it correctly. Before they leave our home, I want each one to own her own gun. I want the women in my life to be empowered to protect themselves. If my girls choose not to keep a gun in this way, that will be their choice, but not because I have failed to prepare them for it. No one should have to live in fear. Rachel has much more (including some debunking of all those alarming statistics about guns). You can also check Mrs. du Toit and her husband Kim.

Monday, June 16, 2003

My Wonderful Spouse

Kim du Toit has some good advice on Father's Day presents, but my wonderful spouse showed me true Father's Day appreciation. We dropped the kids off at my folks, and she invited me to go with her to the range and show her how to shoot. Since she had never been to the range with me, I was delighted. I consider this an extraordinarily thoughtful present. Too bad the range was closed for Father's Day, but I'm sure we'll try again.

Saturday, June 14, 2003

The Bell Curve is Cracked

Mrs. du Toit has blessed us with this item on language. It contains a wonderful philosophical exposition at the end. Money quote:
A word that people use quite frequently is "natural." It's a cool word, too. Calling someone "a natural" is a compliment. Unfortunately, too many people misunderstand or misuse the word. Often it is used to imply a value on something, such as, "oatmeal is good for you because it is natural." Ack! That drives me crazy. These same people will use the natural word to describe things such as chamomile tea, ginseng, etc. They are "natural" so they must be good for you. The fact that chamomile is a carcinogen seems to escape them. "But it is Natural!" they say. Yes and cancer is natural--so is arsenic and salmonella, but I don't add them to hot water and drink those either. Death, spider bites, disease, famine--those are all "natural" too.

There are a few words (and their antonyms) that have a tendency to get people twisted in knots:
--Aberrant confused with Abhorrent (I make that typo all the time, even though I know they are two different words--thank Mrs. Malaprop for that one.)

It is natural for some people to engage in deviant behavior, but it doesn't make it acceptable to everyone, nor does it make it normal or natural. It is normal for outliers and abnormalities to occur, such as birth defects, but it is still abnormal. It is normal for others to find aberrant behavior abhorrent. Nature isn't perfect 100% of the time--abnormalities occur frequently. But no one should think that because something is normal for one person, that it applies equally to everyone. They are outliers. It is instinctive to be repulsed or repelled by abnormalities and instinct is natural. It is our brain's first defense to be startled by abnormalities. It triggers our natural fight or flee response. Millions of years of evolution will not be denied. This is not to say that we, as human beings, cannot overcome some of our initial, instinctive, abhorrent reactions, but it is not natural for animals to do this. It is natural to fight or flee. But what makes us human, is that our intellect can overcome some of these instincts, but not all of them, and not reliably. But intellect cannot alter reality.

That last paragraph is a doozy. I don't know how many times I've dismissed some abhorrent behavior as simply "out there on the bell curve". The more fool I.