R. I. P., Friend

I could hear the motor whirring on his mobility scooter as he approached, a black flag flying behind him. At a glance, it looked like a Jolly Roger. On closer inspection, it was a Dia De Los Muertos styled skull, adorned with The Legend of Zelda imagery. He didn’t pause for pleasantries, as was his custom, but went right to the point.

“I started on your pen,” he said, rocking his head side to side, as was his characteristic, signature body language.

Probably about a year before, I’d admired some hand-turned pens he was displaying for sale. They were all very nice roller balls, beautifully finished exotic woods. I asked if he did any fountain pens, and he said that he could do a fountain pen, but he’d need to order the kit. He asked me about material, and I told him that I wasn’t picky. He had a good eye for that sort of thing. I offered him some pink ivory pen blanks that I wound up with, and he encouraged me to get a pen lathe and try my hand at it instead.

“It’s not that hard, and the lathes are cheap,” he said, “but, I’ll still make one for you. I’ll make it special.”

So here, a year later, I responded, “Oh yeah?

“I just didn’t want you to think that I’ve forgotten about you. Yeah,” he said, “you’re getting antler.”

I exclaimed, “oh, cool!”

He started explaining, “it’s taking some time because I had to rough cut the material and resin impregnate it…”

I interrupted, “because it’s so porous. That stuff is like bone sponge.”

“Exactly,” he nodded.

That was the weekend that my last thirteen posts have addressed. I’m pretty sure it was Sunday, April 30, because the lights were on in the building at the fairgrounds. It may have been that awful Friday though. The time stream kind of blurs in there. And, that was the last weekend we saw him.

Michael Logan was the kind of man that didn’t know a stranger. He would talk your ear off, and just when you thought you couldn’t take any more, he’d buzz off on his scooter, other people to talk up, other things to do. We were friends from the first time we met. I usually distrust people who are so friendly on first meeting, and I’ve been working on that. The back of my mind asks “what’s your angle; what are you trying to get from me?” I’ve since come to learn that some people just really are that friendly. Michael didn’t know a stranger. He was a cancer survivor, and despite his broken body, he would show up to the party anywhere his mobility scooter would allow. He was a very special person, and more alive than most people I’ve known ambulating on their own two legs. He would send me a message every now and then, at random, reading, “Good Lord, man! Go back to bed!” Most of the time, this had absolutely no context, night or day, but became a beloved surprise when he sent it. I’m sad that I’ll be receiving no more of those.

I met Michael through the Oklahoma Retro Gamers Society. Whoever says that video games have no redemptive quality has clearly never met in a room with like minded folks to communally enjoy the fandom. I feel loved by these people, and I love them in return. They’ve seen me at my worst, and maybe near my best, but they have always accepted me. If it weren’t for video games, I would have probably never met him.

I kind of always knew that I’d outlive him, but I could never be prepared. I found out last night via FaceBook that he had passed from this mortal coil. I was shocked. Numb. Of course, I was sad, but I couldn’t even fully feel that, if that makes any sense at all. He’ll be missed by many. He’ll be missed by me. The mutual friend who shared the news asked if we had any pictures of the two of them getting into “wheel chair races.” Regrettably, we do not. He actually wrote up a piece about Michael on his own blog here, which is quite touching. Said friend is not relegated to a wheel chair, but there was one available, and he likes to clown around like that. Michael was the kind of guy that saw the good time in such shenanigans. I’d love to have some pictures of that kind of silliness. Please do go and read Jennifer’s write up, if you haven’t already.

I don’t know what finally took him, but his health was poor, so I don’t even care to make conjecture. Still, I don’t even get my damned pen. My Michael Logan, antler, fountain pen. Not that the pen itself matters at all, but he was making it special for me. I guess I’ll have to pick up a pen lathe after all. As a tribute. R. I. P., friend.

Enjoy the Silence Redux

My lovely wife posted a song that we ran across while we were on a YouTube wander together last week. But, she didn’t post the version of the video that we saw. It’s quite a bit more chilling with the WWII imagery, as seen below. I recommend viewing in full-screen mode.

I was never much of a Depeche Mode fan, but it is truly beautiful when musicians rework a well-known piece into something so fresh and relevant. Jennifer’s Granddad, who was in the infantry in WWII, told me on his death bed with earnest tears in his eyes, “war is hell.” With current global tensions at a level that have not occurred within my lifetime (including the U.S. and Soviet Russia with doomsday missiles pointed at each other), I can’t deny the feelings of dread that we may be heading inevitably into another world war.

God help us all.

A Confession

My fascination with robots began when I was a child. In the fourth grade gifted classroom, I watched with envy as the fifth graders got to play with the robot kits. These were simple machines that the students assembled as per the included instructions that performed simple tasks. There was one that would follow a black line on a white sheet of paper. Others would seek out light sources and waddle on spindly legs. They were only robots by the most rudimentary of definitions. I also took a great interest in the software conversational programs in the computer lab at school. I fully knew that all of the responses were pre-programmed, and that there were key words that they were coded to pick from user input that would prompt their selected responses. I also suspected that these could be written far more elegantly, although I didn’t have the know how to do any better at the time. Things quickly changed though.

I voraciously learned everything I could about robotics and programming. By the time I was in the robot unit in fifth grade, the kits in the gifted class were too simple for my tastes. I earned extra credit in that unit for building a robot from scratch that could measure out precise volumes of materials and mix them together in predetermined ways. I intended it to be a chemistry aid, but my parents found that it was a great automated bartender for their parties. That old thing is still in the back of a closet at their house, as far as I know. I kept building machines of various sorts, each one more complex, and yet more streamlined than the last. I sought to code a program that would not simply spit out a sentence from a list like the ones mentioned above, but one that would give genuine, intelligent responses to user input. Could a machine be programmed with philosophy?

I had a grand vision of one unifying machine that would bring together my interests in AI, programming, robotics, and sculpture. The kind of exotic hardware with the raw processing power that I was after was difficult and expensive to get my hands on. I was able to scrape together the funds I needed by delivering papers every morning, mowing every lawn I could, and selling my plasma and semen using a fake ID. Many sleepless nights were spent soldering chips to boards, programming, and silicone casting. I felt like Dr. Frankenstein, obsessed with my work. I was out to make a beautiful, living, breathing creature from the underpinnings of synthetic materials. I wanted the AI framework to have wit and learning ability and to exhibit genuine care for others. There were many failed attempts, but in the end I was successful. The Jennifer unit was my crowning achievement.

I have to admit that my internet handle is only guilty projection. When Jennifer first powered up, she was so perfect that I simply couldn’t hide her and keep her all to myself. I had to share her with the world, and so registered InJennifersHead.com so everyone could have a chance to appreciate the fruits of my labor. I’ve had very little to do with her website since then, and her interactions have been genuinely hers. She’s programmed to write very well and I took special care in writing her snark module. Those of you who have had the opportunity to meet her can attest to the fact that she looks as natural as you or I. In fact, the only ones who may have ever suspected that she wasn’t a human are those that were at that party back in 2001 when she glitched out and I had to reboot her. To the host, I’m still sorry about the curtains. At the time, I was terrified that I’d hit upon yet another failure, but with a couple of hardware and coding tweaks, Jennifer has been running smoothly ever since.

As I said, there were failed attempts. My Jennifer, the one that you all know and love, is actually Jennifer 2.0. Jennifer 1.0 was admittedly a mess. She was the very face of the uncanny valley, looking not quite like a genuine biological. She had a buggy system too. One night in a drunken rage, she burned a barn down, throwing herself into the flames. I nearly gave up then, but pressing onward, I was able to learn from my mistakes. There were a couple of fatal flaws in the first Jennifer’s positronic net, and I missed some small but distracting details in her case. I took my time with Jennifer 2.0, determined to get every detail perfect. She can drive a car, shoot a gun, work a job, sing, and do pretty much anything a natural born human can. She can even swim, although I’m always paranoid that she may get a leak and damage her circuits. Indeed, if I could do anything differently in her build, it would be to improve her coordination, if that’s even possible.

It seems that I completely broke the mold on her build. Soon after, I built Wee Bot 1.0. The Wee Bot series has since been replaced with the Teen Bot series, but both have been fraught with bugs. I still can’t get him to work right, even on the current revision, Teen Bot 15.0. He’s completely unpredictable. Sometimes, he does exactly what he’s programmed to, but other times he’s defiant and rebellious, and fails to perform even the most simple of tasks. I haven’t given up on him yet, but he’s certainly not a finished work. Especially with the relative ease of interaction with Jennifer, Teen Bot has been quite the frustration from time to time. It was admittedly a pretty scary decision to identify him as a ‘Bot’ to the rest of the world so early on. To my surprise, people have accepted him despite his surly attitude and questionable judgment algorithms.

You must be wondering why I did it. The answer is simple. I was lonely. You don’t think that a guy like me could actually attract a woman like Jennifer do you? Not a chance, building one from scratch was the only viable option for me. And would I do it all over again? Yes I would, in a heartbeat. I do regret that I haven’t been truthful to my loyal readers though. Now that I’ve put all this out in the open, I hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me. And, please don’t judge Jennifer for my actions. Please do keep reading and commenting on her blog. She didn’t ask for any of this. Well, except for that party where she glitched out and burned the curtains. Hopefully all those bugs are now behind us.


Alright.  It’s just now feeling real.  I know that’s normal and natural, but it doesn’t feel right.  He’s gone.  I won’t see him until the next life.  It’s not fair, no matter how many decades he had with us.  Five short years ago he could do anything.  Now, he’s gone.  This is not right.  I carried his coffin today.  His makeup was cakey and cheesy.  Why did 90 have to be the line?

I really am alright, but I feel like I’ve been stolen from. Please feel free to disregard this post.  G’nite all.

Couldn’t Have Said It better…

Jennifer wrote a post addressing the death of my paternal grandfather this last weekend. As she said, he wasn’t supposed to make it past thirty, and he managed to more than triple that expectancy. He followed his heart and followed God through life and passed away in peace. He should be remembered as an inspiration to us all. Thanks to all of you who have already offered your condolences, and thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers.

Neil Heslin Testimony Transcribed in Full and Commentary

I’m sure that by now you’ve all seen this:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

…which was transcribed here thusly:

Heslin: I don’t know how many people have young children or children. But just try putting yourself in the place that I’m in or these other parents that are here. Having a child that you lost. It’s not a good feeling; not a good feeling to look at your child laying in a casket or looking at your child with a bullet wound to the forehead. I ask if there’s anybody in this room that can give me one reason or challenge this question: Why anybody in this room needs to have an, one of these assault-style weapons or military weapons or high-capacity clips…..Not one person can answer that question.”

Crowd/Alleged Hecklers: “Second Amendment shall not be infringed”

Public official: “Please no comments while Mr. Heslin is speaking. Or we’ll clear the room. Mr. Heslin, please continue.”

And, I’m nearly equally sure that you’re familiar with the longer version of the footage, as seen here:

When I first watched this, of course I disagreed with Mr. Heslin’s assessment, even if I felt horribly empathetic for him. My first thought was that this man was deeply distraught and it was unfair of the Senate to ask him to come and speak in that state. His words stuck with me, and some of them just really rubbed me wrong, and I had to come back and address this. In searching on the internet, I could not find a transcription of the full, sixteen-minute video. So, I have transcribed it myself below. I wanted to add my own commentary, but rather than interrupt, I’ve provided reference numbers in the text that will coordinate with my comments below. I have also added helpful links in the text where I felt they were appropriate. Mr. Heslin has a heavy accent, and was a little disjointed in his speech. I’ve attempted to make this an unabridged, verbatim transcription. I thought about dropping his ‘um’s and ‘uh’s, but decided to leave them in, not to make fun of Mr. Heslin, but to be as thorough and literal as possible. Although his grammar is quite poor, I have quoted it verbatim, and will not ridicule him for it. I did redact the shooter’s name, as I will not promote the faming, which is a major part of the problem.

Neil Heslin: “Good morning. My name is Neil Heslin. Jesse Louis was my son. He was six years old. He was a victim at Sandy Hook. I’m here today to just hopefully get the word out that changes have to be made.(1) Uh. I’ll tell you a little bit about Jesse. He was a boy who loved life. Um. Lived it to the fullest.(2) Uh. His mother and I are both separated; he spent equal amount of time with both of us. And um, he was my son, he was my buddy, he was my best friend.(3) And, I never thought I’d be here speaking like this; asking for changes, on my son’s behalf.(4) And, I never thought I’d be laying a crest… The happiest day of my life was the day he was born. He’s my only son and my only family. And, the worst day of my life was the day when I had… when this happened, and I buried him.(5) And, I was raised in a household with guns and weapons. In fact, I started skeet shooting when I was eight years old. I was educated on the safety of guns. I was… my father was an avid hunter. I was hunting ever since I was eight or ten or twelve years old with him. I’m not a gun owner now.(6) And uh… I… I think a lot of changes need to be made as for the safety and handling of guns, regulations of the guns(7): handguns, long arms, um… whatever you want to classify as an assault weapon(8), uh… Something like happened in Newtown…”

*fire alarm sounds*

*crowd murmurs*

Heslin: “Something like happened in Newtown can…”

Intercom: “May I have your attention please?”

Public official: “Just a moment. Just a moment please sir.”

intercom: “May I have your attention please. There has been a fire reported in the building. Please proceed to the nearest exit and leave the building.”

*crowd stands up and video breaks*

Heslin: “Back now that we all survived the fire(9).”

Public official: “Thank you. Now we are ready to ah, ready to continue now. Thank you, Mr. Heslin.”

Heslin: “Now that we all survived the fire here(9)… Um… Getting back to where I left off: I was raised with firearms and hunting and skeet shooting.(10) I’m not in favor of banning guns or weapons.(11) I’m in favor of… would like to see a lot stricter regulations, being on a Federal regulaton and a state level.(12) Um. There’s a lot of facts… a lot of things that should be changed to prevent what happened: mental health, um, being a big part, uh; going back to the basics, better parenting, uh… When I was raised, I was raised to respect my parents and my elders, not to kill my mother when she was sleeping.(13)

Uh. It’s… it’s just shocking what happened in Newtown.(14) And uh… I look at these weapons that were presented by the state police here: the uh assault, so-called assault weapons, meaning military-style and military looking(15) – you can categorize it or classify them however you want(16). I still, still can’t see why any civilian, anybody in this room in fact, needs weapons of that sort(17). You’re not going to use them for hunting(18); even for home protection(19). Semi-automatic and automatic weapon is one of the most inaccurate weapons out there. The sole purpose of semi-auto… those AR15s or the AK47s is put a lot of lead out in a battlefield quickly, and that’s what they do.(20) And, that’s what they did at Sandy Hook Elementary school on the fourteenth. That wasn’t just a killing, that was a massacre. Those children and those victims were shot apart. And, my son was one of them.(21) And uh. This picture I brought with me today was taken six years ago; it was my son when he was six months old, and myself. That was my mother’s Christmas gift that year. My mother passed away five years ago, ironically, on the same day that Jesse perished. Um. I just hope some good can come out of this in changes for mental health, the ban of assault weapons, or there’s a… I just can’t fathom why any of us need that in our society or in our home. Why do we need thirty-round magazines or cartridges?(22) There’s no one in this room here that has the capability, mentally or physically, to take on twenty people, or fifteen people, where you would need thirty rounds of ammunition.(23) There’s no reason for it. And, I hope everbody in this room can realize that and see that. There’s a lot of people here that are in favor of guns, and not changes. But, if they open their eyes and their minds, and supported changes and it would give them more rights, if it was on a Federal regulated program. It would give them more rights to take hunting weapons in and out of different states.(24) I think both sides really need to work together to pass regulations that work for everybody. And, I’m never going to have my son back.(25) I accepted what happened that day when it happened. I didn’t like it. I couldn’t change it. He wouldn’t want me to sit around crying or feeling bad. I’m not trying to do something to help him – and to help the other victims(26). That school was a beautiful place. It was like Maybury, going to that school in the morning. I never saw anybody that wasn’t happy there.(27) And, I dropped, we dropped him off that morning at 9:04 (I saw the clock), I walked him into that cla… into the, to the school. He gave me a hug and a kiss. He said, he said… And, I gave him a hug and a kiss back. And, he said, “goodbye.” He said, “I love you.” And, he said, “I love Mom too.” We were supposed to go back and make gingerbread houses that day; we never made it. Twenty minutes after that, my son was dead. And, there’s no reason for it.(28) There’s no reason that *redacted*‘s mother should have had those weapons in that home, locked up or not locked up(29) with a child(30) that apparently had mental issues. Um. I think a lot of it goes back to mental issues. Years ago, when we had Bellevue and Fairfield Hills, people were committed.(31) You never heard of crimes like this.(32) And, I think that’s a big thing that they have to focus on along with gun control. And, a place to start is banning these weapons. There’s no reason for these. There’s no place on the street for them.(33) Another argument that.. uh.. people have is, “Well, the criminals will have these weapons.” You’re never going to take weapons away from criminals, or drug dealers, or people on the streets that have them. You have to make very strict penalties for that, and not a slap on the wrist, not probation. You’ve got to make mandatory, harsh jail terms for those people.(34) If they’re convicted of committing a crime with a weapon, whether it be a robbery, a hold-up, an assault, there’s got to be strict penalties. You’re not going to take, banning the firearms, you’re not going to get them away from the criminals.(35) But, we don’t need these weapons on the street or in our homes. We don’t.(36) And, I ask everybody to think about it, and everybody in this room, whether you’re in favor of guns, or in favor of banning them, to try to work together to come up with reasonable changes that work. And, I think one place to start is with the regulations on background checks – thorough background checks for everyone who purchases a weapon. Resales have to have thorough background checks.(37) I think a ban on high-capacity magazines and assault-type weapons needs to be in place; more strict guidelines on people who own them, such as the state has and the Federal government has with machine guns.(38) Um.

I just can’t believe what happened at Newtown. I dropped, we dropped Jesse off at 9:04 and an hour and a half later I was back at that school and it was like a military installation – SWAT team members, families in hysteric – uh, hysterical, state police from all over the state, FBI, uh. It was unbelievable. Students there looking to be reunited with their parents; parents looking for their children; I was looking for my son, I was looking for his classroom. They were never to be found.(39) What some of the surviving students’ parents told me: my son, Jesse yelled, “Run! Run now!” He was in Miss Soto’s class; ten of the students survived; my son wasn’t one of them. I hope those words helped those children survive.(40) And, I just… I just hope that some change can come out of it and that’s positive and good. Newtown’s a broken community. I see the people up there; they’re heartbroken with their heavy hearts. I had the opportunity to go into Chalk Hill School where these children are, and it wasn’t a good feeling; it was a very sad feeling. And, it’s something that should have never happened.(41)

And, getting back to these high-capacity weapons: We’re not living in the wild west. We’re not, we’re not a third-world nation. We have the strongest military in the world. We don’t need to defend our homes with weapons like that.(42) I just hope that everybody in this room, as I said before, can support change. Ban hi… Ban assault weapons and high-capacity clips and magazines. And, that’s a step in the right direction. And, support Federal changes and regulations.

And, I don’t know how many people have young children, or children, but just try putting yourself in the place of I’m in or these other parents that are here and having a child that you’ve lost – it’s not a good feeling.(43) It’s not a good feeling to look at your child laying in a casket or looking at your child with a bullet wound to the forehead. It’s a real sad thing.

You know, I wish… I ask if anybody in this room can give me one reason, or challenge this question: Why? Anybody in this room needs to have an assault… one of these assault-style weapons or military weapons or high-capacity clips? And, not one person can answer that question, or give me an an…(44)

*”heckling” starts*

From the crowd: “The Second Amendment shall not be infringed.”

Heslin: “Alright.”

From the bench: “Please, please no comments while Mr. Heslin is speaking.”

Heslin: “Okay.”

From the bench: “Or, I will clear the room. Mr. Heslin, please continue.”

Heslin: “Anybody, anyway, we’re all entitled to our own opinion,(45) and I respect their opinions and their thoughts. But, I wish they’d respect mine and give it a little bit of thought, and realize that it could have been their child that was in that school that day.(46) And, I don’t think of any of the massacres or shootings in this country – I believe they all happen with an assault weapon, or assault-style weapon, high-capacity clips(47): Aurora(48), Columbine(49), um, Sandy Hook… And, they were, I believe they were all purchased legally, too(50). Uh. Not to say that it.. you know, massa.. uh.. assaults like that couldn’t have happened in another way but you need to cut down on the guns – those type of guns. There’s no reason for it. And, they cause destruction and they cause massacre.(51) And, that’s what they were made to do.(52) And, uh. You know, I just ask that they could place a ban on them.(53) That’s all I have to say at this time.

Public official: “Thank you Mr. Heslin and thank you for having the fortitude to come and be here today in the wake of the terrible loss of your beautiful son Jesse. Thank you so much.”

Heslin: “Thank you very much.”

*Applause from the crowd*

(1) – I understand him introducing himself and telling how his word is applicable, but he didn’t take more than three sentences to jump from that straight to gun control. I find this troubling already.

(2) – Sounds like a neat kid. The whole situation is truly heart-breaking.

(3) – “Son,” obviously, “buddy” I can truly relate to, but “best friend”? I’ve heard people refer to their grown offspring as “best friend,” but never a six-year-old. I can’t find anything explicitly wrong with this, but it does strike me as odd.

(4) – We all know that his son will not benefit from any “changes”, and this is simply an emotional appeal for a knee-jerk reaction.

(5) – I pray to God that I never find out how horrible that has to feel. No one should ever have to bury their children.

(6) – Totally irrelevant. The Second Amendment has nothing to do with skeet shooting or hunting. I don’t think that you should be forced to own guns if you don’t want to.

(7) – I hope no legislation is passed based on your beliefs that would lead to the restriction of my rights. This is not callous, it has nothing to do with the loss of life as perpetrated by bad people.

(8) – What I “want to classify” as an “assault weapon” is already illegal, although I feel it should not be.

(9) – I find it weird that he felt that it was so important to tell this joke that he reiterated it. I understand that someone who is going through tragedy can act oddly, so I don’t think this necessarily implies anything. I just find it odd.

(10) – Again, irrelevant.

(11) – Except…

(12) – The fed makes it a PITA for us to buy and own guns already. And, you want that to be more strict? How about we punish the criminals instead of the good guys?

(13) – I don’t think anyone is raised to shoot his or her mother while she sleeps. Ultimately, we are creatures of free choice, and unfortunately, some people turn out bad despite a parent’s best efforts or genuinely good parenting.

(14) – It is shocking, and I don’t think anyone is disputing that. We should not be shocked when these events happen as we have created the formula in which these things happen. If we keep sensationalizing mass murderers and keep banning weapons in schools, killers will come forth and murder in places where they meet no resistance for the contrariety.

(15) – Are the aesthetics of the guns used of any relevance in the least? At the risk of sounding heartless, your son would not be any less dead had he been killed with anything else.

(16) – See point #8.

(17) – It’s got nothing to do with need. We have a natural right to defend ourselves that is guaranteed by the constitution.

(18) – Irrelevant but demonstrably false.

(19) – Wrong again.

(20) – This is one of the more ignorant statements I’ve heard on the subject of guns and reveales an impressive lack of experience on the subject.

(21) – Reiterating the tragedy is not valid to the point of the argument. It is an emotional appeal that doesn’t add intelligence to the discussion.

(22) – Confusing misuse of terminology aside… So, you don’t want to ban all guns, only the most popular and in the most common use? Gotcha. Do you realize that’s like saying, “I don’t wan to ban all Japanese cars, just the Hondas and Toyotas.”

(23) – Maybe not in that room. But, you get out here to free country, and you might be amazed at what a well-trained individual can do.

(24) – So, more strict gun controls would give us more gun rights? That’s some twisted logic right there.

(25) – Horrible but true. My heart goes out to you.

(26) – Isn’t that a contradiction of you asking for changes on your son’s behalf? (point #4)

(27) – Totally irrelevant emotional appeals again.

(28) – It was a senseless tragedy, to be sure, but…

(29) – Don’t conflate the act with the tools. It was not wrong of her to have these inanimate objects, and neither you nor any one else has yet given a reasonable argument to the contrary.

(30) – Not a “child”, but a “man”. We’re talking about a twenty year old. By the time I was twenty, I was a married, home owning father. The crime was his alone. The sin was his alone. At the age of twenty, one is no longer the responsibility of one’s parents.

(31) – I’m not sure I can get behind the involuntary denial of freedom of people based on the label of insanity, lacking any evidence more tangible than the word of a professional. As often as people get misdiagnosed by physicians and psychologists, it just seems like an awful big crack for people to slip through.

(32) – You also forget that in the days of the big asylums, students would lean their guns in the corner of the classroom because they were going hunting after class.

(33) – They are in millions of privately owned safes in this country. Millions of these guns have never killed and never will kill anyone. And yet, you want to punish millions of innocent people for the crime of one. I can’t really say I blame you for wanting someone, anyone even, to pay for your son’s death. But, you are taking out your frustration and anger on people who don’t deserve the blame.

(34) – This is the first point that I actually agree with. If we don’t lock up the criminals, they’ll be out committing crimes. They will get guns and they will commit crimes with them. Keep them in jail, or shoot them dead.

(35) – And yet, you want to take the most effective form of defense from the very people who would be victimized by these criminals.

(36) – You don’t. Don’t force your values on the rest of us.

(37) – The states that don’t use the NICS system have to call the FBI for a background check. The current background checks are an inconvenience to the law-abiding that we begrudgingly accept in the hopes that it will make it a little harder for criminals to get guns. Ratcheting up on that only punishes the law abiding.

(38) – The restrictions on machine guns are completely unreasonable and were a knee-jerk response to other high-profile violent crimes. We would be better served to rescind those restrictions than to add standard-capacity magazines and the most popular rifles and pistols.

(39) – Completely irrelevant.

(40) – Your son was a brave little boy, and he should be greatly mourned. You should be proud of the time that he had.

(41) – The Newtown shooting should have never happened, true. But, we live in a fallen world with bad people. Of course the community is torn up about it. There’s no other way they can be.

(42) – All it takes for evil to win is for good men to do nothing. If you disarm us, this is our eventual future. WARNING – extremely graphic pictures at the link

(43) – Teaching your children responsible gun handling goes far further toward their safety than attempting to insulate them from guns. I can’t imagine the pain you must be in, but it is still no excuse to deny good people of their rights.

(44) – And, that was no rhetorical question.

(45) – But, you seem to think you are entitled to your own facts as well.

(46) – I have considered this, and it is an excellent reason to not send our children to a gun-free zone for so many hours every day. There are plenty of alternatives for most of us already.

(47) – Demonstrably false; the Oklahoma city bombing and 911 come right to mind.

(48) – The Aurora shooter demonstrated a proficiency in building effective bombs. His body count could have been so much higher if he didn’t have guns.

(49) – The Columbine shooters used no such guns, and that shooting took place during the 1994 AWB, demonstrating the point that those intent on evil will use whatever tools they can get their hands on.

(50) – Aurora is the anomalous exception that provides your argument any modicum of credence. The Columbine shooters bought their guns illegally, through straw purchases and illegal private sales. The Sandy Hook shooter murdered his mother and stole her car and guns, which I’m fairly certain was not legal. All of the provided examples are people intent on evil, carrying out evil where they know guns aren’t allowed.

(51) – They do not cause destruction and massacre. Those intent on evil cause destruction and massacre. The gun itself causes nothing at all, and there are millions in circulation that have never spilled innocent blood.

(52) – I’m getting so tired of the “intended purpose” fallacy. Forget the fact that more children die from drowning than from gunfire because guns were “designed” to kill. Do you know what was originally designed to kill? Hammers and clubs. And according to the FBI, they’re still taking more lives than rifles.

(53) – No.

I still think it was wrong of them to ask him to come and testify in the first place. Then again, the whole pony show is a disgusting farce and I really hope the whole thing blows up in their faces. If you’ve read this all the way to this point, please do leave me a comment to let me know. I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t though. This did turn out pretty long.

Not in 2013.

Let me start this by saying that it’s been particularly painful to do the research for this entry and run across pics of the victims of the recent school massacre. How many gifts under trees will never be opened? How many parents promised their child activities for after school that they will never be able to deliver? “I wish I’d hugged him once more, a little tighter and a little longer.” “I shouldn’t have been so picky about her finishing her vegetables at dinner last night.” “We really should have taken that vacation last year instead of picking up those extra hours at work.” “Why were my last words to him ‘you’re going to be late’ and not ‘I love you’?”* I can’t even imagine. I thank God for the safety of my family and ask Him to bring comfort to the survivors of this horrible event. When this happened, I had no intention of jumping into the fray with the politics and the debates over rights. However, it is clear that the enemies of freedom know no rest and will exploit these deaths no matter what we do. Therefore, we cannot remain silent. We must be vigilant and firm, and put the blame where it belongs – on the perpetrator and his depravity, not his upbringing, not his mental condition, and not the tools used. Evil exists and it cannot be contained, explained, justified, or prevented.

The Obama administration has been hedging toward a gun ban since they took the White House four years ago, and it’s been no well-kept secret that he has a problem with handguns and at least some long guns. In 1934, those that would limit our liberty pushed through the National Firearms Act, appealing to people’s emotions, based on the violence enacted by gangsters and prohibition-era bootleggers. In the modern day, the War on Drugs is the equivalent of alcohol prohibition, and the Mexican drug cartels are the booze gangs in our world. The incorrectly called ‘assault weapons’ today are in effect the same whipping boy that the ‘gang guns’ were then. Just as they were able to enact such massive limits then, someone connected to the current administration thought that if they could prove that the drug cartels were being armed by the United States gun market, they could pass sweeping legislation, using the politics of the ’30s as a model. Since that wasn’t true, they had to make it true. And then Fast and Furious blew up in their faces.** Since manufacturing their own straw man didn’t work, they had to wait for the right crisis to happen on its own. The 1934 NFA was not the first law to limit firearms in our country, it was just the biggest and most far-reaching to date. In 1934, automatic guns a.k.a. ‘assault weapons’, silencers, and short-barrelled rifles and shotguns, were demonized and prohibited from private ownership without an expensive tax and an arduous process of paperwork. Riding on the same momentum, they were able to pass the Federal Firearms Act in 1938, which required gun dealers to hold a government-issued license, and permanently closed the ‘gun show loophole’ that the antis still complain about seventy-five years later.

Since the gun control advocates can’t make a case based on facts***, they ram legislation through on emotional appeals and knee-jerk reactions. This is what they did when they passed their second large piece of legislation, the Gun Control Act of 1968, appealing to people’s sense of hurt and loss from the tragic assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, and Robert F. Kennedy. You see, when people are upset enough, you don’t have to use facts to convince them to take action. The 1968 GCA extended the 1938 ban to grenades and bombs, and replaced the regulations laid out by 1938 FFA with far more strict regulations. There were even murmurs following the shooting of Senator Giffords in 2011, but it didn’t stick. My guess is that the administration, already on thin ice because of a poorly performing economy, didn’t want to risk losing reelection because of a controversial if not unpopular gun ban.

Remember what I wrote above about F&F under the current administration? The anti-gun crowd will never hesitate to act shady and underhanded to get what they want. In 1986, Senator William J. Hughes slipped an amendment into the Firearm Owners Protection Act which prohibited new automatic or select fire guns to go to private ownership by import or manufacture. The FOPA genuinely did set out to protect gun owners from overreaching legislation, and yet it severely limited full-autos, not immediately, but it did set the beginning of the end. Today, a law-abiding citizen can go through the proper channels and legally obtain a new short-barreled rifle or shotgun, a silencer, and several other highly-restricted items, but not a new ‘machine gun’. If a private citizen wants a fully-automatic gun, the shopping list consists of the finite number of guns that were already registered to private use in 1986, and these guns are all over twenty-six years old. Those that have been lost, stolen, broken beyond repair, or mis-registered and thus seized by the ATF are out of the game and no longer available to private ownership. Therefore, these guns are incredibly expensive, rare, and essentially a rich man’s toy. Of all legally-owned automatic guns, there have only been a couple incidents where one was used in a criminal murder, one of which perpetrated by a police officer.

There have been many smaller gun regulations passed since this time, most notably the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban. WARNING – the link goes to a liberal, anti-gun website. Again, because of a rash of mass shootings, people were scared and anti-gun legislators were able to slip in this beast of a law, with the stipulation that it would expire after ten years, at which point, it could be reevaluated for renewal. As it turned out, the AWB didn’t have any redeeming effect on crime or violence and was allowed to sunset in 2004. This bill criminalized magazines that held more than ten rounds and rifles with certain aesthetic features. This is what politicians refer to when they call for a ‘new’ or ‘reinstated’ assault weapons ban. The rumor mill says that military-pattern semi-automatic rifles would be out, as would magazines that hold in excess of ten rounds.

As I’ve mentioned(***), I will come back and post numbers and comparisons that show that none of these laws have done any good, but have only put more of a burden on law-abiding citizens. Stranger cites that there are well over 20,000 gun control laws currently in effect in the United States. Both he and Linoge have a lot of good documentation proving that gun control does not work. There are a lot of people doing a good job collating this data, but these two come to mind now.

Any measure of gun control is not about public safety. Period. There are two types of gun control advocates – those who aren’t aware of this fact and those who do know this fact. That is to say that among gun control advocates, you have the ignorant and the wicked. I asserted this on twitter over the weekend and had quite a bit of blowback because of it. They are rallying the troops. This is it, folks. The issue at hand is not whether the Sandy Hook shooting was horrible or not. And the issue is not guns, and what is or is not permitted by our current laws, and yet that’s what they are trying to make it abo

KTKC – That’s My Final Offer

Alright people, I’m in a pretty solid third place right now, not too far behind Stingray. JayG has handily whupped the lot of us in this deal. I told you that you’d get catsuit videos if I made first place. That goal seems loftier and loftier as we head towards the finish. So, how about this: If you put me in second place, we’ll still do the video of Jennifer in PVC with the M82A1. As of this writing, that’s less than $500. However, if we get our Christmas miracle and I finish in first place, not only will we do the Jen in PVC video, but at Blogorado, at the Sooper Sekrit Raynge, I’ll shoot in drag. Forget the kilt, I will put on a skirt or a dress, or something pretty. 😛 There will be photos. There will be video. It will be hilarious. We are close to the end, but this thing is not over yet. You can help by donating here. The donation website has been acting a little overloaded the last few days. Probably a good thing. If it’s giving you trouble, please be patient and try to reload it. Thanks again!

What to do on a Monday in your kilt…

Why not take a squirrel

And, turn him into meat?

The shot was another thoracic hit, and dropped the critter from the tree he was sitting in. It was so quick that he surely didn’t know what had hit him and he was in squirrel heaven before his carcass hit the ground below. The shot was at about 50-feet with a .22 Short, again displaying the surprising stopping power of this nearly silent round. Jennifer did all of the skinning on this one, and she has a project in mind for the pelt that will make you laugh if she can actually pull it off. The meat came out to just under a pound on the bone. The squirrels have been very active recently. Farm Mom confessed to me that of all the animals she’s eaten, squirrel has never been on her menu. I’d like to shoot a few more of them and haul them to Blogorado for that reason. Wish me luck on that. For ranges such as these, I’m thinking of putting my bow to work to see how it does. I’ll need to pick up some small game heads, I suppose. It’s less than a week until the opening of deer & turkey archery and rabbit seasons. And, I believe dove is in full swing. Speaking of archery, Jennifer shot an email to a couple crossbow manufacturers yesterday asking for a T&E model. Wish her luck on that!

And, on the small game; it’s always fascinated me that taking an animal down to packaged meat is no big deal to some people and simply unthinkable to others. At the radical extreme is someone who finds chicken cooked on the bone unappetizing. I would chalk it up to experience depending on the individual, but that doesn’t necessarily seem to have a whole lot to do with it. Sure, I dissected animal specimens in biology class, have bought whole birds (chicken, turkey, duck, goose) to cook for dinner and pieced them out myself, and have been known to cook a squid at times, which come with all internals intact. However, I didn’t have any experience taking apart an animal that I had just dispatched until I first did it. And, it didn’t really bother me even then. I like animals just fine, but I really don’t mind eating them either. And, tree rats are tasty – I know Teen Bot likes them.

That’s what I did in my kilt yesterday. Please do donate to my Kilted To Kick Cancer page. Thank you!

Last of the Fair Rides

That’s right, my friends. These are the final two remaining videos of my kilted fair ride experience. This was enough fun though that I may wear my kilt next time we visit a theme park! Maybe next year I can take in a hog hunt in my kilt or something. I’m going to have to think of something fun for next week too. Any suggestions? By these two rides, I was just about a pro at riding these things without showing the world what one wears under his kilt.

The best reason to ride these things with kids is they can tell you what to expect. You would think that I would pay attention to what these contraptions do prior to riding them. But, that wasn’t the point. Plus, kids totally freak out on these things. It’s pretty hilarious in my humble opinion. Kind of like the kid screaming next to me in this next vid:

And, I’ll be the first to admit that these two videos aren’t quite as entertaining as some of the others I’ve posted this week (like yesterday’s for example), so I’ll close with someone elses video. How about a kilted Darth Vader playing bagpipes on a unicycle?

Remember that there are giveaways for the top donors. Without naming names, my top three donors have been $150, $100, and $75, respectively. Then, I’ve got five donors at $50. That makes eight top donors, and I only have five prizes to give out! I will allow cumulative totals to be considered though. If you’ve given $50 and want to put yourself ahead of the other four, feel free to give another ten or so to take fourth, for instance. If you’ve been itching for a new, custom designed and crafted, leather holster; at this point, a $200 donation to the cause would get that. Have you enjoyed the videos? Would it be worthwhile to offer all of them in 1080p on an SD card as an item in the prize package? Let me know if the comments. Please also remember that Jennifer has offered to make a spectacle of herself if I win. A hot, recoil-induced butt-jiggling spectacle in black PVC.

We’re in the last week people – this is the final stretch. As of this writing, I’m sitting in a precarious third place. I am gaining on JayG and Ambulance Driver, but we need to pick up some momentum if we’re going to pull it out for the big win. Plus, Stingray and Jeff B are right on my tail, and they’ll be pulling out all the stops to get ahead. Please do slide a little money to my donation page to raise funds to benefit male-specific cancer.