Standing up to the Feds
Mar 30th, 2007 by Ken Hagler

Red's Trading Post Videos. They've posted two new video ads defending themselves against BATFU harassment.

Ryan Horsley's got guts and he's articulate. He's defending a way of life and a fixture in his community from destructive invading parasites, and he shouldn't have to stand alone.

We gun owners are quick to pass judgment on dealers who don't stand up to intimidation, like those who caved in to Bloomberg's lawsuits. We need to be equally as quick to support those who refuse to roll over. This guy goes one step further and swings back defiantly.

will definitely keep an eye on further developments.

[Via chareltonhest] [The War on Guns]

Still missing the obvious solution
Mar 21st, 2007 by Ken Hagler

Who Could Have Fore­seen the FBI’s Fail­ure in Over­see­ing Itself?.

Mem­bers of Con­gress, includ­ing Repub­li­cans as well as Democ­rats, are dis­mayed that the FBI has failed to ade­quate­ly super­vise itself to pre­vent mis­use of “nation­al secu­ri­ty let­ters” demand­ing phone, email, and finan­cial records. A recent report from Jus­tice Depart­ment Inspec­tor Gen­er­al Glenn Fine revealed, among oth­er abus­es, that the FBI was keep­ing incom­plete records of NSLs and assert­ing “exi­gent cir­cum­stances” that did not exist. The leg­is­la­tors who vot­ed to give the FBI the author­i­ty to uni­lat­er­al­ly grab what­ev­er records it thinks might be use­ful for inves­ti­gat­ing ter­ror­ism are amazed at the lack of prop­er over­sight:

I just want to con­vey to you how upset many of us are who have defend­ed this pro­gram and have believed it is nec­es­sary to the pro­tec­tion of our coun­try,” Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Dan Lun­gren, Repub­li­can of Cal­i­for­nia, told Valerie E. Caproni, the bureau’s gen­er­al coun­sel.…

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Dar­rell Issa, also a Cal­i­for­nia Repub­li­can, said he was “shocked” by the bureau’s trans­gres­sions and sug­gest­ed that they might have bro­ken the law.

If what was done was done by a private-sector indi­vid­ual, wouldn’t the F.B.I. be arrest­ing them?” Mr. Issa asked. “Wouldn’t the U.S. attor­neys be pros­e­cut­ing peo­ple who played fast and loose with these rules?”

How to pre­vent such abus­es? I’m just think­ing out loud here, but what if some­one out­side the FBI, maybe even in a dif­fer­ent branch of gov­ern­ment, reviewed these record demands before busi­ness­es were required to com­ply with them?

Ker­ry How­ley con­sid­ered the NSL scan­dal ear­li­er this week.

[Hit and Run]

There’s an even bet­ter way to pre­vent abus­es by the FBI: if there is no FBI, it can’t be abu­sive. This would have the added ben­e­fit of bring­ing the FBI into com­pli­ance with the Con­sti­tu­tion, which makes the FBI’s very exis­tence ille­gal.

Digital unreliability
Mar 20th, 2007 by Ken Hagler

Most dig­i­tal con­tent not sta­ble: archivists. Archivists say the domes­tic dig­i­tal for­mats avail­able to the aver­age con­sumer, such as stan­dard CDs and DVDs, are not sta­ble and were nev­er intend­ed to be used for long-term stor­age.


Far­rell says a dig­i­tal black hole is loom­ing over the infor­ma­tion age, because most of the mate­r­i­al the provin­cial archives receives comes from the pub­lic. He says if we’re not look­ing after our dig­i­tal records prop­er­ly, there won’t be any­thing for the archives to save.


Noël is con­vinced that a safe and fool­proof way to save dig­i­tal mate­r­i­al is right around the cor­ner, but until then, it’s up to every­one to do what they can to pre­serve their dig­i­tal doc­u­ments. He says if you want to pre­serve your visu­al and audio mem­o­ries, make copies of copies on dig­i­tal, but always keep the ana­log orig­i­nals. [CBC News]

The poor longevi­ty of dig­i­tal stor­age is some­thing I’ve been warn­ing about for a while. If your orig­i­nal source is dig­i­tal, it’s best to make an ana­log copy if at all pos­si­ble. For exam­ple, pro pho­to labs can make a slide from a dig­i­tal pho­to for around $5.

Truth is eleven times stranger than fiction
Mar 16th, 2007 by Ken Hagler

Escape from UK-run prison in Iraq. Eleven detainees escape from a UK mil­i­tary prison in Bas­ra, most of them by “swap­ping” with vis­i­tors, the army says. [BBC News]

Appar­ent­ly British sol­diers don’t read Dick­ens.

Don’t count your ballots before they’re cast
Mar 12th, 2007 by Ken Hagler

Ron Paul in the Polls. With vir­tu­al­ly only inter­net atten­tion, Ron is already at 2% in the lat­est CNN pres­i­den­tial poll, tied with Hagel, Gilmore, and Brown­back, and ahead of Huck­abee, Tan­cre­do, and Thomp­son. My pre­dic­tion: a steady increase in his poll stand­ing. (Thanks to… [ Blog]

That would be nice, but I’m not hold­ing my breath. The mar­gin for error in that poll is 4.9%, mak­ing Ron Paul’s 2% pret­ty mean­ing­less. Also, social­ist war­mon­gers Rudy Giu­liani and John McCain have (sur­prise, sur­prise) an enor­mous lead.

D.C. gun ban gone
Mar 10th, 2007 by Ken Hagler

Wash­ing­ton, D.C. Dis­cov­ers Con­sti­tu­tion. Friday’s big news, which broke a bit late for H&R:

A fed­er­al appeals court over­turned the Dis­trict of Columbia’s long-standing hand­gun ban Fri­day, reject­ing the city’s argu­ment that the Sec­ond Amend­ment right to bear arms applied only to mili­tias.

In a 2–1 deci­sion, the judges held that the activ­i­ties pro­tect­ed by the Sec­ond Amend­ment “are not lim­it­ed to mili­tia ser­vice, nor is an individual’s enjoy­ment of the right con­tin­gent” on enroll­ment in a mili­tia.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Dis­trict of Colum­bia Cir­cuit ruled that the city can­not pre­vent peo­ple from keep­ing hand­guns in their homes. The rul­ing also struck down a require­ment that own­ers of reg­is­tered firearms keep them unloaded and dis­as­sem­bled. The court did not address pro­vi­sions that pro­hib­it peo­ple from car­ry­ing unreg­is­tered guns out­side the home.

The deci­sion marks the first time a fed­er­al appeals court has struck down a por­tion of a gun law on Sec­ond Amend­ment grounds.

That’s huge. And one angle you prob­a­bly won’t hear: This is the direc­tion DC pub­lic opin­ion has been mov­ing toward for some time. Only one month ago Mar­i­on Bar­ry, DC’s statesman/punchline who now holds a city coun­cil seat, pro­posed a halt to the gun ban. 

[Hit and Run]

I’m actu­al­ly sur­prised that the gov­ern­ment ruled against itself this way–that’s a very rare thing. I’m not sur­prised that the peo­ple who actu­al­ly live there have been mov­ing away from the gun ban, though. After all, they’re the ones who have had to live with its con­se­quences.

Also unsur­pris­ing is the NRA’s oppo­si­tion to the suit. Despite its media-created rep­u­ta­tion as “pro-gun extrem­ists,” the NRA is actu­al­ly the largest and most influ­en­tial gun con­trol orga­ni­za­tion in the coun­try. They don’t want the Sec­ond Amend­ment to be upheld, because if gun con­trol laws go away they’ll no longer have an issue with which to con mil­lions of suck­ers into send­ing them mon­ey.

No freedom of speech in France
Mar 6th, 2007 by Ken Hagler

Mac­world: News: France bans cit­i­zen jour­nal­ists from report­ing vio­lence.

The French Con­sti­tu­tion­al Coun­cil has approved a law that
crim­i­nal­izes the film­ing or broad­cast­ing of acts of vio­lence by peo­ple
oth­er than pro­fes­sion­al jour­nal­ists. The law could lead to the
impris­on­ment of eye­wit­ness­es who film acts of police vio­lence, or
oper­a­tors of Web sites pub­lish­ing the images, one French civ­il
lib­er­ties group warned on Tues­day.

The coun­cil chose an unfor­tu­nate anniver­sary to pub­lish its deci­sion
approv­ing the law, which came exact­ly 16 years after Los Ange­les police
offi­cers beat­ing Rod­ney King were filmed by ama­teur video­g­ra­ph­er George
Hol­l­i­day on the night of March 3, 1991. The offi­cers’ acquit­tal at the
end on April 29, 1992 sparked riots in Los Ange­les.

If Hol­l­i­day were to film a sim­i­lar scene of vio­lence in France
today, he could end up in prison as a result of the new law, said
Pas­cal Cohet, a spokesman for French online civ­il lib­er­ties group
Ode­bi. And any­one pub­lish­ing such images could face up to five years in
prison and a fine of €75,000 (US$98,537), poten­tial­ly a harsh­er
sen­tence than that for com­mit­ting the vio­lent act. 

[Pri­va­cy Digest: Pri­va­cy News (Civ­il Rights, Encryp­tion, Free Speech, Cryp­tog­ra­phy)]

The tim­ing with the anniver­sary of the Rod­ney King beat­ing is actu­al­ly quite appro­pri­ate, as I have no doubt that the increas­ing ubiq­ui­ty of minia­ture still and video cam­eras played a major role in the French government’s deci­sion. I’m sure the last thing they want is for the gen­er­al pub­lic to know what their own thugs are up to.

Officials don’t care if you live as long as you die following orders
Mar 6th, 2007 by Ken Hagler

Death by Emer­gency Plan. A strange cul­ture of emer­gency has tak­en over this coun­try, and the slight­est provo­ca­tion trig­gers it. It could be an expect­ed ter­ror­ist or just an old-fashioned weath­er warn­ing. The offi­cials are quick to swing into action, and tell you what to do.

The prob­lem is that these demands are often based on noth­ing oth­er than gov­ern­ment plans that are not in your best inter­est. It behooves all of us to think care­ful­ly about gen­uine pre­pared­ness, which might often involve buck­ing the sys­tem and telling the emer­gency nazis to mind their own busi­ness.


The best approach to an emer­gency is sim­ply to let peo­ple make their own judg­ments about how to stay safe. Instead, we have devel­oped a sys­tem where­by a cen­tral plan goes into effect that applies to every­one. This is why evac­u­a­tions tend to be manda­to­ry these days, and why you are not allowed to res­cue your own chil­dren from dan­ger.

This brings us to the final pre­sup­po­si­tion of emer­gency man­age­ment in this coun­try: offi­cials assume that you are their prop­er­ty. You have no rights, no free­dom of choice, and no voli­tion of your own that should be respect­ed. Your one job is to obey them, and at least if you are killed, they can have brag­ging rights that they got every­one to go along.

At some point in the com­ing years, you will prob­a­bly face this prob­lem. There will be some emer­gency in which you will be told to put your life or that of your chil­dren in the hands of experts, who pre­tend as if they know what is best for you. Chances are that they don’t, and this emer­gency will be the time when you need to think seri­ous­ly about fun­da­men­tal val­ues. Is obe­di­ence to author­i­ty more impor­tant than life itself? []

Missing the point of the Republic
Mar 5th, 2007 by Ken Hagler

Urban Hor­rors and the Legions.

Sub­ject: Urban sol­diers 


Here is a fas­ci­nat­ing short piece on urban vs. rur­al
recruits who join our mil­i­tary. It says some­thing about edu­ca­tion. I sus­pect
it also says some­thing about the col­lec­tive g of rur­al vs urban pop­u­la­tions,
but I will leave that to the read­er.


Why is any­one aston­ished? Rur­al schools are a bit clos­er to the cit­i­zens.
But it’s anoth­er data point. The Repub­lic is slow­ly suc­cumb­ing to the
lib­er­al view of the world. Unions, bureau­crats, reg­u­la­tions, any­thing but
free­dom and respon­si­bil­i­ty. And the beat goes on…

[Chaos Manor Mus­ings]

Here’s an amus­ing exam­ple of a “con­ser­v­a­tive” (right-wing social­ist) com­plete­ly miss­ing what the Amer­i­can Repub­lic was sup­posed to be all about. The founders of the Repub­lic didn’t have near­ly as much to say about unions (which they would cer­tain­ly have approved of, so long as they were vol­un­tary), bureau­crats, and reg­u­la­tions as they did about the stand­ing army that these recruits are join­ing.

The Found­ing Father repeat­ed­ly, loud­ly, and often warned that the exis­tence of a stand­ing army was inher­ent­ly destruc­tive to a republic–a warn­ing which, hav­ing been ignored, has been proven com­plete­ly cor­rect. Iron­i­cal­ly, one of the his­tor­i­cal exam­ples that they learned from and tried to avoid repeat­ing the mis­takes of was the Roman Republic–source of the “legions” whom Jer­ry Pour­nelle writes so approv­ing­ly.

Amateur Radio licence updated
Mar 5th, 2007 by Ken Hagler

The paper­work upgrad­ing my Ama­teur Radio license from Tech­ni­cian to Gen­er­al class final­ly went through. Over the week­end I had set up a portable anten­na and radio on the roof of my apart­ment build­ing and was able to hear peo­ple broad­cast­ing from loca­tions as far away as Japan and the East­ern Caribbean, but none of them could hear me.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly the stuff I had to learn to pass the test leaned towards stuff that I’m very unlike­ly to ever care about (for exam­ple, how a trans­former is con­struct­ed) and glossed over such details as how to trans­mit so that peo­ple can actu­al­ly hear you.

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