Monday, January 31, 2005

Failed Blogger Guy @ SHOT

I will be the first to admit that I habe done a piss-poor job of blogging the SHOT Show.

That's because I have worked like a GALLEY SLAVE for the last three days. Friday was all day filming for SHOT SHOW TV; Saturday filming an episode of SHOOTING GALLERY; today all-day meeting hell. I did get sucked, briefly, into the TED NUGENT VORTEX, which is always fun. The Nuge is...well, the Nuge. He's a big fan of SG, and suggested once again that we get together and "blow something up." I'm down with that.

Since I'm exhausted,, I thought I'd give you a quick lists of the guns I've ordered so far:

1) Para-Ordnance 9mm Hawg — I've been lobbying Para to produced this gun for FIVE YEARS! Basically, it's an alloy-frame subsize 1911 hi-cap in 9mm. 12 + 1 capacity.

2) Ruger Commemorative .357 Blackhawk Flat-Top — A beautiful reproduction of the first Blackhawk from the 1950s. I've tried for years to talk my Father out of his original! I'm thinking about maybwe adding the Ruger .454 Alaskan snubbie Redhawk, which is perfect for one-shot stops on garbage trucks!

3) Cavalry Arms all-plastic framed AR-15, fitted with at .45 ACP adapter. Oh, why not? Maybe I can get it in fetching red.

...more tomorrow...

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Emeril's Fish House

Okay, as promised:

Emeril's Fish House at the MGM Grand in Vegas...
APPETIZER: Lobster crackers (marinated lobster, wasabi sauce on homemade crackers)
ENTRE: Wild caught salmon barbequed in Emeril's BBQ sauce and served with a sauce that included Andouille sausage.
DESERT: Emeril's signature banana cream pie with a glass of the flawless Bonny Doon "Glacier" wine.
Yeah, he's a star and big deal, but the MAN CAN COOK! Also tasted the appetizer BBQ shrimp...not as good as Pascal's Manale in N'Awlins, but, hey, what is? Still, amazing flavors. My Sweetie got the calamari in Emeril's smoked tomato coulis.

Gotta go purge!

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Viva Las...what was that again???

Well, my Sweetie is down in the casino Living Large on the penny slots. Honest! The penny slots! So far, she's only down 30 cents or so. I tossed a ten-spot into the quarter slots, but she explained that $0.25 is a lot of money, and I didn't really understand how to play the slots. I just push the button until the money is gone — which, in truth, is what I thought the point of the exercise was.

At the last minute, she took over and saved six bucks of my $10, so I'm down $4.00.

High-rolling is cool!

Since the last time I was here, they've built a gigantic golf course right smack between Paradise (where the Convention Center is) and the Strip. It's got more palm trees than the entire island of Aruba, and it's green, green, green! So I'm thinking, put a 10-foot chain-link fence topped with concertina around the whole thing, turn loose all them damn white tigers in the enclosure and every week or so toss an "entertainer" over the fence.


Meanwhile, Back at DIA

It's almost hard to imagine how much travel these days SUCKS. Each trip sucks a little more as the system descends into chaos.

I'm beginning to seriously consider having myself shipped by a "common carrier." How much worse can it be?

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

SHOT SHOW Time Again!

Heaven help me, but it's time!

SHOT SHOW 2005 cranks up FRIDAY in Vegas, and you'll be able to see me on every hotel in Glitter Town! Yep, I'll be hosting SHOT SHOW Teevee again this year, on hotel television...the key thing to watch for are the alien recipes! No, I'm not joking. Also, DO NOT tell me that "you woke up with me this morning," unless:
1) You really did
2) You're Maria Bello
We'll be filming SSTV all day Friday; then an episode of SHOOTING GALLERY in high-definition from the floor of the Show on Saturday. We should have the SG episode on in a week or so — the absolute fastest SHOT SHOW report ever, for what that's worth!

I'm going to do my best to blog the Show, but I've got no idea what the internet connections are going to look like. If I see anything you can't live without, I'll make sure to get it up ASAP.

In the meantime, tomorrow night my Sweetie and I are goign to Emeril's at the MGM Grand for some real kick-ass food! I will, of course, be posting the menu.

If you're at the SHOT SHOW, come by The Outdoor Channel booth (Booth 9513) and check out the gigantic hi-def plasma teevee, which we'll be feeding direct from a hi-def tape deck. THIS IS WHAT TELEVISION SHOULD LOOK LIKE! Tell 'em you're an SG or Michael Bane Blog fan and demand — DEMAND! — passes to the Saturday night rocking Outdoor Channel party! You probably won't get 'em, but at least you'll be entertaining!


I'm only about halfway through BLINK: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Malcolm Gladwell's new book, but I can already see that it is has profound implications for those of us who teach self-defense of any variety. I'm going to withhold comment until I finish the book; then I plan to do a series of posts on those implications. I also plan to write an episode of SHOOTING GALLERY, probably for airing 3rd quarter this year, to highlight some of these implications.

In the meantime, if you teach armed or unarmed self-defense, or if you carry a gun or a knife for self-defense, you need to read this book and think about the implications for yourself!

Gladwell's previous book, THE TIPPING POINT: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, became an instant management phenomenon. The idea of non-common sense analysis of how trends spread caused some people to scream, "It's another friggin' 'paradigm shift' nonsense phrase!" And, yes, I did help drive that "friggin' 'paradigm shift'" stuff back in the late 1990s...mea culpa.

However, the National Shooting Sports Foundation team of me, Bill Brassard and Paul Erhardt used tipping point theory to create the Media Education Program — the single most successful media initiative ever launched by the firearms industry and by any criteria a huge, if expensive, success. The firearms industry is still reaping the benefits of that program even as they busily disassemble it because:
1) Wow, it cost a lot of money!
2) It just goes against common sense, doesn't it?
3) How can we measure the R-O-I (return on investment) of a program like this?
More to come...

Coincidence? You Be The Judge!

Is it just me, or is it coincidence that the Michael Jackson case seems to be heating up at the same time Sponge Bob (a.k.a. "SpongeBob," obviously a lame alias) suddenly is in the limelight? I've got this gut feeling that there's a connection somewhere [PAGING DIANE SAWYER! Your Emmy is here...]. HAS SPONGE BOB EVER BEEN TO NEVERLAND? HAS MICHAEL JACKSON EVER ADMITTED TO RELATIONS WITH NOT ONLY A SPONGE, BUT ANY KITCHEN CLEANING UTILITY?

I say this whole case could be blown wide open if somebody would depose Bubbles the chimp.

Okay, now I'll get serious...

Ah, to be Young Again! LOL

From Michelle Malkin, who notes that it's a scary time to be the mom of a young daughter, this link to the New York Post's story on super-skimpy prom dresses:
This prom dress is so skimpy, even the designer's CEO wouldn't let his teenage daughter wear it. But the dangerously revealing gown, prominently advertised in Seventeen Prom, YM Prom and Teen Prom, and on sale in a Midtown shop, is a top seller for the company this season.
Well, what can I say? Popular culture has been sliding off the end of the world for some time now. Of course, I don't have any kids, either. My producer, Robin Berg, has a very young daughter, and he's already sweating bullets.

I am reminded of a couple of summers ago when I had some journalists in town. I was driving them through downtown Boulder right about the time Boulder High School, which is right next door to the University of Colorado.

"Man," said one, a Brit, "coeds never dressed like that when I was in college!" I pointed out to him that coeds still don't dress like that...the coeds were the ones in cut-off sweatpants and hangovers; the women in the blistering short skirts and skimpy tops were the high school students. "Tell me it's Boulder," said the Brit, who has two young daughters of his own. "Good luck, " I said.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Okay, Finally...13th PRECINCT Review!

Like I said, two Glocks 'way up for this remake of the John Carpenter 1976 classic Assault on Precinct 13. Here's what Amazon said about the original:
Before making the original Halloween into one of the most profitable independent films of all time, John Carpenter directed this riveting low-budget thriller from 1976, in which a nearly abandoned police station is held under siege by a heavily armed gang called Street Thunder. Inside the station, cut off from contact and isolated, cops and convicts who were headed for death row must now join forces or die. That's the basic plot, but it's what Carpenter does with it that's remarkable. Drawing specific inspiration from the classic Howard Hawks Western Rio Bravo (which included a similar siege on disadvantaged heroes), Carpenter used his simple setting for a tense, tightly constructed series of action sequences, emphasizing low-key character development and escalating tension.

I've got to say the sequel with Laurence Fishburne and Ethan Hawke pretty much lives up to the original. Here's the huge CNN review, which is, strangely enough, on-target. Here's what you need to know:

1) Laurence Fishburne is the baddest dude in the universe! He could win a triple-dare stare-down with Samuel L. Jackson and Alexander the Great with one eyeball duct-taped behind. We forgive you for Biker Boyz.

2) Drea de Matteo is almost reason enough to move to her hometown of Queens in the hopes of meeting some cousins. I mean, sure, I wanted her, just once, to say, "CHHHHHRRISSSTO...PHHHHEEEERRRR!" We forgive you for dying in the Sopranos and being on that wretched Joey series. Adriana honey...cap that moron Joey and take over as capo de capo!

3) The scene between Ms. De Matteo and Mr. Fishburne on how to kill a person with one hand is worth the price of admission alone.

4) Ethan Hawke is a real actor. Who'd'a thought it? Although, after Training Day, I'm thinking he should give up on a future in law enforcement. We forgive him for both Befores, Sunrise and Sunset, two chick flicks that will cause any male viewers to be immediately impotent for at least the next 24 hours and the battery in his power drill to die.

Ja Rule rules; Brian Dennehy is his believeable self and Maria Bello is, well, Maria Bello. The bad cops (the new replacement for the evil street gang of the original) are badder than bad.

I also give the movie two Glocks and an Accuracy Systems International sniper rifle up for the weaponry. I notice that cop Ethan might start out with an issue Beretta, but when the going gets hot, he graps a 1911 .45 — off-hand, I'd say a Kimber, but I can't swear to it.

This ain't a movie for introspection! This is a popcorn movie! Go see it.

Brits With Brains...Finally!

From Richard Munday in the London Daily Telegraph:
The Sunday Telegraph's Right to Fight Back campaign is both welcome and a necessity. However, an abstract right that leaves the weaker members of society – particularly the elderly – without the means to defend themselves, has only a token value. As the 19th-century jurist James Paterson remarked in his Commentaries on the Liberty of the Subject and the Laws of England Relating to the Security of the Person: "In all countries where personal freedom is valued, however much each individual may rely on legal redress, the right of each to carry arms – and these the best and the sharpest – for his own protection in case of extremity, is a right of nature indelible and irrepressible, and the more it is sought to be repressed the more it will recur."

A New York State of...B-S

A nice little rebuttal on Mayor Bloomberg's patently unConstitutional attempt to regulate interstate commerce from the National Shooting Sports Foundation's Larry Keane:
Mayor Bloomberg misfired recently when he signed a bill permitting crime victims to sue law-abiding, out-of-state gun makers unless they change their lawful sales and distribution practices by adopting the city's so-called "code of conduct" ("Mike Opens Fire on Gun Makers," Jan. 19).

The law is an unconstitutional attempt to regulate interstate commerce, something only Congress can do.

There already is a "code of conduct" for the firearm industry. It's called the Gun Control Act.

More importantly, this law will not reduce gun crime in the city.
Darn shame it was in the "Letters" section! It just shores up my argument thatNYC is NOT part of the United States, but is, instead the equivalent of a Banana Republic —maybe a Manolo Blahnik Republic — just off our shores. I say do an even swap for someplace nice in Eastern Europe, maybe the Czech Republic. We still have a really big city — Prague, which not only has food as good as NYC but is actually clean — and the people actually like the U.S.! I'm liking this a lot!

Sunday, January 23, 2005


Important words to focus on for the coming week:

"After closing time
At the county fair
I detect the El Supremo
In the room at the top of the stairs..."
—Steely Dan

What does it mean? Beats's Steely Dan, so Fagan and Becker probably chose the words because they fit some weird internal rhythm and, as a bonus, rhymed. Still, I woke up this morning with the verse swirling around my head like a flock of crows after a morning at Starbucks, so I thought I'd pass it along.

In my Books I'm Going to Read as Soon as I Survive the SHOT Show category, first on the list is Haruki Murakami's new Kafka on the Shore. Murakami writes as if our strangest dreams have stepped forward into our everyday life, and so what? He deals in straightforward narrative in surreal situations. Strangely enough, Murakami has had a profound effect on both my writing and my life. I stumbled across his Wild Sheep Chase, Murakami's first novel translated into English and published in America, at a time when, for reasons I was at a lost to understand, my life had "lost traction."

Things were going great...I was mostly writing high-speed business stuff, dream assignments like "go hang around the MIT Media Lab and tell us about the future," "interview Andrew Grove of Intel and David Packard of H-P and just see what they have to say," etc. My co-written book on business management, Shifting Paradigms, was doing well ("an important contribution to understanding cutting edge management," wrote one of the reviewers...), in my spare time I was pal'ing around with Dolly Parton and other coutnry music stars, and my future was so bright, I had to wear shades!

Except that it wasn't. So I read Sheep — imagine Raymond Chandler on an acid trip that just won't stop — and it dawned on me that the reason my wheels were slipping was that I had placed limitations on myself as a writer — and as a person — then convinced myself those limitations were the laws of the universe. I had always believed in the existential power of morphing, the ability to shapeshift on command...from newspaperman to Rolling Stone music critic to respected business writer in one fell swoop!...but I realized that I had morphed myself into a natty little trap.

So I mulled Murakami's words over and over, restless as the "blown seed" of Murakami's driven hero, and one night in a pizza joint in Tampa I launched what I would later call in print my own wild sheep chase (you can read about some of it here, because, after all, I am a writer; buy the book, because, after all, I need the money), which would take me around the world, nearly kill me numerous time, wreck my life and leave my head as clear as the mountains after a storm blows through. It was just what I needed! I think.

Okay, enough introspection...let's talk cowboy boots! Specifically, these cowboy boots, Liberty Boots' KILLAZ. Bad to the bone indeed! Death-heads and elaborate stitching! Don't these bad boys look like something Prince Harry would wear would wear to the SS-Totenkopfverbande All-Night Rock and Roll Dance Party?

A Michael Must Have!

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Assault on Precinct 13


Full review tomorrow!

Sponge Bob Stud Hoss

I haven't weighed in on the widening Sponge Bob crisis, probably because the Great All-Seeing Eye of Nederland was focused on the even wider Jen/Brad crisis. I don't know about you, but I have trouble focusing on more than one crisis in family values at a time. The short story is some family groups (like, referenced above) feel that certain other organizations are making use of these cartoon characters to promote a pro-homosexual agen....da....snore....nod...wake me when it's over...

I mean, get over it! It''s a sponge, for heaven's sake! I don't know about you, but I have never once considered how a kitchen sponge might have sex. Or, at least, not since high school biology class, when I thought about everything having sex.

Plus, where will it stop?

I mean, Wile E. Coyote, whom I consider one of my personal heroes and the single largest influence for my haphazard career, is hardly Jude Law...whoops, bad choice! I meant Colin Farrell. And who knows what nefarious stuff the Acme Company makes in the back room? Check out this morning's report from the Daily Hog:
ACME Adult Toys, announced today, that "French Ticklers" will be removed from all adult toys produced at their Utah manufacturing facility.

"It's time we stopped allowing the French to screw us", said Tom Long, ACME's pubic relations director.
Beep, beep, indeed!

Here's Michael's Rule of Sexually Deviant Cartoon Characters: Unless you actually see said character co-noodling with one of the hosts of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy at an intimate bistro on Santa Monica Blvd. in LA and there is at least one pair of Aldo half-boots involved, cut the cartoonie some slack! And if you do see such a scene, keep your mouth shut, because you're just jealous!

Friday, January 21, 2005

Sad Tales of an (Occasionally) Working Writer

I've decided to try an end-run on my non-fiction book proposal...I bundled up what I have written and sent it to my old agent, Mel Berger at the Wm Morris Agency, with a note that I'd love for him to represent the project.

Given that these are bloody times in the publishing industry, it's not exactly a slam-dunk that he'd want to work with me again. Still, if he likes the idea, it's a quick kick in butt to get the proposal finished!

Now, if someone would figure out how to kick me through my second novel!

I'll fish out the sex scene and post it here for your purient interests!

January 24th...Just as I've Suspected!

A British psychologist has calculated the most depressing day of the year:

January 24

Oh boy...


Sorry to keep shoving National Review articles at you this morning, but this column from Jonah Goldberg is just too good to pass up. He's suffering angst, because...he's...getting...old:
But one of the things I do find pretty interesting is how technology changes vocabulary — and by extension the way we view the world. We don't appreciate how many of our phrases are driven by outdated technology. I was always taught that "Mind your Ps and Qs" was an old admonition for printers, though apparently that's open for debate. We refer to "civil" engineering because until fairly recently all engineering was military. A hot shot was something you fired from a cannon. And for my entire life — and probably yours — I've said "dial" a phone number even though kids today don't necessarily know why. The phrase from old TV shows "don't touch that dial!" would sound like an admonition not to touch a brand of soap. Also, if they were watching an old episode of Outer Limits they'd have no clue why the aliens were talking about controlling the "vertical" and "horizontal" on the TV. They also might furl their foreheads when told they sound like a broken record.
Jonah-dude, I have sneakers your age! Sometimes I'm afraid to leave the house for days at a time...but your column was far out!

Zell Miller Ascendent

Here's a pretty cool piece from the always entertaining Rich Lowry of the National Review. Turns out that if the Democrats had listened to Zell Miller, yesterday might have been a very, very different day:
Many of the things that Miller said in his book have now become nearly conventional wisdom among Democratic loyalists. All the Democrats who now say that the party has foolishly given up on the South, that it is unable to connect with religious voters, that it is too beholden to liberal orthodoxy on social issues, that Americans don't trust it on national defense, and that it doesn't speak the language of most Americans should take a deep breath and repeat after me: "Zell Miller was right."
To me, the most jaw-dropping quote in the Lowry article is from NYT columnist Nicholas "America is Great Satan" Kristof:
Liberal New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof recently declared, "Nothing kills Democratic candidates' prospects more than guns."
Paging Barbara Boxer!

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Bodyguard redux

This from Google's breaking news...

Update on Bodyguard Story

This from Gavin de Becker, the head of the security firm who apparently employed the bodyguard involved in the NYC event, as posted on the site:
I know that Fox News editors must rely upon others when preparing their stories, and I offer with no judgment that their story titled “Michael Moore’s Bodyguard Arrested on Airport Gun Charge” contains several errors, including its entire headline.

Please correct the errors in your story below as soon as possible, because, as you are aware, the errors reach an ever-widening audience with each passing minute - and will predictably be picked up by other news agencies.

Our full-time employee, Patrick Burk, is not “Michael Moore’s bodyguard.” Accordingly, the headline in the Fox News Web site story is false and misleading.
De Becker goes on to say:
When checking in for the flight, Patrick Burk voluntarily advised United Airlines that he was transporting an unloaded, locked firearm in his checked luggage, precisely as regulations require, and not “carrying” a weapon, as your story inaccurately reports. Advising the counter ticket agent is a routine procedure for police officers and security professionals. In this case, a Port Authority officer decided to arrest Patrick Burk on the charge that he is not licensed to carry a firearm in New York City.

The Fox web site headline contains an error not present in the story. The headline indicates that Patrick Burk was arrested on an “airport gun charge.” He was not. The charge involves having a firearm without a New York City License to carry it. On that note, Patrick Burk was not carrying a weapon on his person (only locked in his baggage), and the police do not allege that he was carrying a weapon on his person, as your story implies.
Here's the Cliff Notes version...the bodyguard was not working for Moore at the time. He is a former Marine special forces officer working for a highly regarded executive protective agency, and he certainly deserves an apology from me for implying he was a meatball. Mr. Burk, my apologies. Bodyguards, like defense attorneys, don't only get to work for the good guys.

Everything I said about the NYC (and Boston) airports STANDS! Do not attempt to carry firearms through those airport, even if your are in full compliance with the law!

BUUUUTTTTT, let's not beg the question...does the Great White Whale hire armed muscle? Yes. Is he a hypocrite of the first degree? Yes. Am I honored that "Anonymous" from urged me to grow up? HELL YES!

Hey Michael, maybe I can ambush interview you sometime! Be fun, wouldn't it?

Can You Spell...S•C•U•M•B•A•G?

Fox is reporting that whacko whaleboy director Michael Moore's bodyguard was arrested at NYC's Kennedy Airport for carrying an unlicensed weapon:
Police took Patrick Burke, who says Moore employs him, into custody after he declared he was carrying a firearm at a ticket counter. Burke is licensed to carry a firearm in Florida and California, but not in New York. Burke was taken to Queens central booking and could potentially be charged with a felony for the incident.

Moore's 2003 Oscar-winning film "Bowling for Columbine" criticizes what Moore calls America's "culture of fear" and its obsession with guns.
First, let me say that Fat Bastard joins a long and undistinguished list of Washington and Hollywood uberliberals who proudly wear the title of HYPOCRITE in flashing neon letters (Hello, Rosie! Here's a partial list, courtesy of Confederate Yankee). He'd no doubt tell you he needed a meatslab with a heater to protect him from the Gun Lobby, when, in truth, the only thing Michael Moore has to fear is Japanese whaling ships, who'd render his fat butt into whale-oil before you could say, "Domo arigato, Blimp Boy!"

There's an important fact here, as I've posted ont he other gun lists: The New York City airports and Boston Logan no longer recognize federal safe transit laws!!! The meatslab was arrested when he declared his legally packed, unloaded firearm! The scumbags in NYC and Boston will do the same to you!


They are NOT part of the United States, and you do not want to end up imprisoned in a Third World jail!

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Black Rifles! Yes!

This presented without comment.

TIME Review of iPod Shuffle

Alright already! I bought one! I'm a guy, I can't help myself! I thought my regular 30-gig iPod might like a little friend! Read TIME's review of the iPod Shuffle:
Not only is it undeniably affordable, but as a lightweight plastic thingamajig with no moving parts, it can go where a hard-disk iPod risks more long-term damage. But that doesn't mean it isn't still sly Apple marketing. Somewhere on a dry-erase board in Cupertino, there's a formula showing exactly how many cool kids must be seen with iPod Shuffles before the rest of the world suddenly, instinctually, races to a store to plunk down cash for that little white slice of heaven. Wouldn't Bill Gates love to see that formula?
Okay, here's what was on my iPod playlist while I was locked in my basement yesterday, alternately hitting the Spinner bike and treadmill to see if I could make my knees glow:
Mandolin Wind — the only Rod Stewart song I can stand, and an amazingly good country song.
Flying Saucers Rock and Roll — Billy Lee Riley is one of the great lost rockabilly heroes, and this song could be a HIT TOMORROW!
Life Has It's Little Ups and Downs — Charlie Rich is a such a tragic figure; forget all that "Most Beautiful Girl" saccharine crap...this song is his legacy.
Aja — "Double helix in the sky tonight..." I never get tired of Steely Dan.
Rawhide — The Link Wray instrumental; this'll make you want to grab Uma Thurman and sprint onto the dance floor.
Mystery Train — Elvis at his most dangerous, back when rock actually mattered.
He Stopped Loving Her Today — George Jones is God. Imagine being able to write a song like "At Least I've Learned to Stand on My Own Two Knees."
Red Hill Mining Town — Sure, Bono is liberal twit with the brains of a deck of canasta cards, but the boy can sing...and The Edge's guitar is sublime.
Sweet Child O'Mine — Go ahead...make fun of me...Axel Rose could still kick your butt if he ever came out of his stupor! Even if he does wear skirts.
Seven — I have no idea what the lyrics mean, but The Great Purple One (a.k.a. Prince for you Philistines) must have had something in mind.
Lose Yourself — Eminem is a jerk, but I'm not asking him to dinner. This song means it.
Hand in My Pocket — You gotta hand it to Alanis Morrisette, a woman willing to play God (and/or George Jones) in a Kevin Smith movie. Plus, one couplet describes my entire life: "I'm lost/But I'm hopeful."
High Noon — The original Tex Ritter version, which includes the part about shooting Frank Miller dead and how if I'm a man, I must be brave.
Watching the Detectives — Elvis Costello in his creepy phase.
Dixie on My Mind — Brother Hank Jr. actually wrote this song for me [honest!] based on a snippet of telephone conversation...he asked me how I could live in NYC, and I said, well, it ain't the friggin' Promised Land! Of such meager thread number one hits are woven.
Home Sweet Home Revisited — A Rodney Crowell song that perfectly captures William Faulkner's classic comment on the South — "The past is never dead; it's not even past" — sung by a man who believed himself to be a reincarnated Confederate soldier killed at Shiloh (Steve Young).
The Ride — I once wrote the jacket copy for a David Allan Coe album, which turned out to be the X-rated adult version. I suppose I have to live with that. Still, this is creepy Southern gothic at its best, and DAC is its master poet.
Ubangi Stomp — I was backstage at Madison Square Garden with John Prine when he premiered his version of this Warren Smith classic from 1956. I told him I couldn't believe he was singing that song in NYC; he told me that if the audience started throwing things at him, I should come drag him offstage.
Damn Good Cowboy — Charlie Daniels is a national treasure, and this one is perfect Charlie.
Will the Wolf Survive? — I have the Los Lobos Chicano anthem, but this version is by Waylon Jennings and it carries every bit of the emotional punch of the original.
Asking Us to Dance — Kathy Mattea...yes, this is a "girly song." I still love it.
Dancing Queen — I got thrown off the "prestigious" Village Voice poll of rock critics becase I said ABBA was the greatest pop group in history. Na na na na!!! I was right, and Husker Du, the critics' darlings at the time, is only a rock and roll FOOTNOTE! Take that, intelligensia!

Media BS About Iraq

Here's a great piece from LTC Tim Ryan, a First Cav commander in Iraq, about how the American media, which is ostensibly on our side, constantly highlights only the bad about Iraq. This is a piece you might want to forward around, because I think it needs to be read by everyone:
The inaccurate picture they [mainstream American media] paint has distorted the world view of the daily realities in Iraq. The result is a further erosion of international support for the United States' efforts there, and a strengthening of the insurgents' resolve and recruiting efforts while weakening our own. Through their incomplete, uninformed and unbalanced reporting, many members of the media covering the war in Iraq are aiding and abetting the enemy...

...I have had my staff aggressively pursue media coverage for all sorts of events that tell the other side of the story only to have them turned down or ignored by the press in Baghdad. Strangely, I found it much easier to lure the Arab media to a "non-lethal" event than the western outlets. Open a renovated school or a youth center and I could always count on Al-Iraqia or even Al-Jazeera to show up, but no western media ever showed up – ever. Now I did have a pretty dangerous sector, the Abu Ghuraib district that extends from western Baghdad to the outskirts of Fallujah (not including the prison), but it certainly wasn't as bad as Fallujah in November and there were reporters in there.

Thanks, Galley Slaves!

A belated thanks to Jonathan Last from Galley Slaves blog for the link! Read this every day. Jonathan's the online editor of the Weekly Standard, which is also required reading. Take a look, for example at P. J. O'Rourke's "Alternate Inaugural Address" in this week's Standard:
MY FELLOW AMERICANS, I had intended to reach out to all of you and bring a divided nation together. But I changed my mind. America isn't divided by political ethos or ethnic origin. America isn't divided by region or religion. America is divided by jerks. Who wants to bring a bunch of jerks together with the rest of us? Let them stew in Berkeley, Boston, and Ann Arbor.

The media say that I won the election on the strength of moral values. If the other fellow had become president, would the media have said that he won the election on the strength of immoral values? For once the media would have been right.

We are all sinners. But jerks revel in their sins. You can tell by their reaction to the Ten Commandments. Post those Ten Commandments in a courthouse or a statehouse, in a public school or a public park, and the jerks go crazy. Why is that? Christians believe in the Ten Commandments. So do Muslims. Jews, too, obviously. Show the Ten Commandments to Hindus, Buddhists, Confucians, or to people with just good will and common sense and nobody says, "Whoa! That's all wrong!"

But jerks take issue with every one of the Ten Commandments. Jerks are particularly offended by the first two Commandments. Of course people of faith, decent people, differ on interpretations of the first two Commandments. For example, we don't all agree about the meaning of "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image." However, we do all
agree about "Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them" when them is Freud, Marx, and Dan Rather.
You go, boy!

How is Massachusetts Like Jolly Old England?

Aside from the miserable wet winters, the home of John "They Just Didn't Get My Mixed Messages" Kerry and Teddy "Hop in the Car; I'll Drive!" Kennedy will put your butt in jail for defending yourself with a firearm:
A would-be robber became a victim of his own crime last week after he was shot in the stomach by a Brighton man he was trying to rob, police said.

Police arrested Sean E. Roisten, 29, of 833 Jette Court, and charged him with unlawful possession of a firearm and assault and battery with a deadly weapon on a robber who was holding Roisten's wife at gunpoint.
I have a good friend, an IPSC shooter, who swears Messychewshit is a great place to live. I'm thinking we sell it to England for maybe $185 and some tea and call it a wash! Still, this is one of those stories that bears watching.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Tuesday Tuesday, Can't Touch That Day...

What can I say? A whole day where I talked on the phone and worked on the FINAL FINAL WRAP-UP of my Sweetie's computer installation. It's all done...everything is hooked up and functioning...including the things that, by all rights, shouldn't be functioning at all. I think the guys at Gimp-Print are geniuses; her (actually my) ANCIENT H-P 4MP with no USB support is running happily under a Gimp-Print driver and a Belkin USB-parallel cable through the Cube.

AOL, god help us all, is up and running. Word seems more or less happy. The new 1.44 MEGABYTE FLOPPY DRIVE is perking right along. All the data is now triple-redundancy saved on the Cube's HD, the outboard LaCie HD and on CDs.

My new book proposal, BULLET POINTS: Postcards from the Heart of the Gun Culture, is about half done, and, if I say so myself, it's pretty good. Here's the lede, so feel free to say it sucks:
The odd thing is I don’t remember the first time I had a gun in my hands. It seems like something I should remember, some profound milestone to mark the passing from childhood to the mysterious realm of the adults. But...nothing. I do remember my father and his brother, Uncle Sonny, sitting on the porch of my grandparents’ ramshackle house in rural Mississippi, not far from the crossroads where bluesman Robert Johnson made his much-noted deal with the Devil, shooting .22 Shorts at a coffee can filled with sand. It was high summer, blazing hot, and both men were in white James Dean t-shirts and skin-tight Levi jeans with the legs rolled up. My father, who had killed men on some nameless island in the South Pacific, and my uncle, who ran moonshine in a big Pontiac sedan , were particular about their jeans and would put them on and sit in a tub of hot water and vinegar, then wear them until they shrank and dried.

The can was about 10 feet away from the porch steps — an amazing distance to a little kid! — at the base of the huge oak that dominated the dirt front yard of my grandparents' house. With each “pop!” of the little .22 revolver, a Ruger copy of an old cowboy single action, the can would jerk.

“You want to let him do it?” my uncle asked, nodding toward me. I was aching to get my hands on that gun, to feel the smooth grips and the little shock of recoil, to watch that can shiver as the tiny slugs hit it. I must have been five, maybe six, years old, and I’d cried when Brandon de Wilde yelled, “Shane! Come back! Come back, Shane!”

“Not yet,” my father said. “He can shoot just fine, but he can’t hit what he’s shooting at every single time.”

“Hell,” said my uncle the moonshine runner, “neither can I!”

Both men laughed, in the way I thought real men laughed when there wasn’t a mom around to tsk-tsk about profanity, a fellowship born of the blistering heat and the unmistakable smells of Hoppes-9 solvent and smokeless gunpowder. My father let me hold the little Ruger, but he didn’t let me pull the trigger. Even so, I’ve always counted that day as my initiation into the culture of guns...
You know, not to sound like a complete lunatic, but I've thought a lot about that crossroads where Robert Johnson cut his Deal signed in blood. Yeah, I know were all past that now, because people like me have recycled the History of American Music so many times that everything is overplayed, over-extended, over-hyped, over B-S'ed. I'd like to say I'm sorry, but in truth I needed the money, so I wrote the words.

But I've been down to the crossroads, and I do believe that if anyone was going to cut a deal with the Ole Scratch, that's pretty much where he or she would do it. I once drank too much whiskey at a juke joint in Alabama, and in some kind of drunk stupor I wandered down a road called Seven Bridges and ended up — honest; who could make nonsense like this up? — passed out on Hank Williams' grave. Woke up just before dawn, to the sound of train whistles. It made me think of my other grandfather, who was a dandy on Beale Street in Memphis in the 1930s, and carried a .38 Colt he once threw at a man when it misfired.

"Son," he told me not long before he died. "Always carry the Good Book and gun. Make damn sure the gun works, too." I have his pocketwatch and his gun. I had the gun fixed, just in case.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Paging Dean Koontz!

If this doesn't sound like the plot of Dean Koontz' next book (or, heck, myabe his previous one), I'll be the proverbial monkey's uncle...

"Living Robots Powered By Muscle," reads the BBC Headline:
Tiny robots powered by living muscle have been created by scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The devices were formed by "growing" rat cells on microscopic silicon chips, the researchers report in the journal Nature Materials. Less than a millimetre long, the miniscule robots can move themselves without any external source of power.
The big question, of course is, are the bot-suckers alive? Professor Carlo Montemano, the little bitty fellas' creator (and known around the lab as God), thinks so:
Under a microscope, you can see the tiny, two-footed "bio-bots" crawl around...But when biological cells become attached to silicon — are they alive?

"They're absolutely alive," Professor Montemagno told BBC News. "I mean the cells actually grow, multiply and assemble — they form the structure themselves. So the device is alive."

The notion is likely to disturb many who already have concerns about nanotechnology.
Like, no kidding! Still, we consider Ann Curry to be a living organism, although she's certainly skating on the edge of several criteria. Now there's a plot from hell — Ann Curry meets the miniature rat-muscle 'bots!

Coming soon to the Discovery Channel, no doubt!

1050 Yards!

So far, the longest shot record for the war in Iraq belongs to Marine sniper Sgt. Herbert Hancock, an activated reservist and police officer from Bryan, TX — 1050 yards — recorded during the battle for Fallujah in November. Read all about it here:
"The insurgents in the vehicles were spotting for the mortar rounds coming from across the river so we were trying to locate their positions to reduce them as well as engage the vehicles," said Hancock. "There were certain vehicles in areas where the mortars would hit. They would show up and then stop and then the mortars would start hitting us and then the vehicles would leave so we figured out that they were spotters. We took out seven of those guys in one day."
You'll be shocked to hear this, but Sgt. Hancock wasn't shooting a big .50, or a .338 Lapua, or even a .300 Ultra Mag. Instead, he made his shot with a plain vanilla 7.62mm (.308) out of his M40A3 bolt-action sniper rifle, essentially a purpose-built Remington 700.

Thank you, Sgt. Hancock, for your service, and we wish you continued good hunting!

Michael's Computer Update

So far, so good.

My Cube has now migrated to my Sweetie's office, where she is presently using it without apparent complications. She was using my cast-off non-USB H-P laser printer, which I can probably get running under some "gimp" printer driver and adapter cable if I fiddle with it, but she's talking about buying a new printer. Given the present dirt cheap price of printers, that makes sense. It's now cheaper to buy a new Brother (whose brother, I have no clue) laser printer than replace the flimsy short-lived drums on the old ones. Who thought that was a good idea?

In the meantime, she's hooked back up to my network, so she can use shared printer just fine.

Keep your fingers crossed!

Oh yeah, I'm probably going to take her old PC, strip all the crap off it and use it to program annoying little robots. What the heck, it keeps me off the streets!

Lott Weighs in on "60 MINUTES"

I missed this in Friday's NR. John Lott chimes in on the major caliber CBS misstatements on 60 Minutes a week ago:
Last year it was the semi-automatic assault-weapons ban before it expired. Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D., N.Y.) claimed the ban was "the most effective measures against terrorism that we have." Of course, nothing happened when the law expired last year. There was nothing unique about the guns that are banned under the law. Though the phrase "assault weapon" conjures up images of the rapid-fire machine guns used by the military, in fact the weapons covered by the ban function the same as any semiautomatic hunting rifle; they fire the exact same bullets with the exact same rapidity and produce the exact same damage as hunting rifles.

Back in the mid-1980s it was the hysteria over "plastic guns" when the Austrian company Glock began exporting pistols to the United States. Labeled as "terrorist specials" by the press, fear spread that their plastic frame and grip would make them invisible to metal detectors. Glocks are now common and there are good reasons they are one of the favorite pistols of American police officers. The "plastic gun" ban did not ban anything since it is not possible to actually build a working plastic gun.

Now it is the 50-caliber rifles' turn, especially with California outlawing the sale of these guns since the beginning of the year. For years gun-control groups have tried to ban 50-caliber rifles because of fears that criminals could use them. Such bans have not been passed these guns were simply not suited for crime. Fifty-caliber rifles are big, heavy guns, weighing at least 30 pounds and using a 29-inch barrel. They are also relatively expensive. Models that hold one bullet at a time run nearly $3,000. Semi-automatic versions cost around $7,000. Wealthy target shooters and big-game hunters, not criminals, purchase them. The bottom line is that only one person in the U.S. has been killed with such a gun, and even that one alleged case is debated.

The link to terrorism supposedly provides a new possible reason to ban 50-caliber rifles. But the decision to demonize these particular guns and not say .475-caliber hunting rifles is completely arbitrary. The difference in width of these bullets is a trivial .025 inches. What's next? Banning .45-caliber pistols? Indeed the whole strategy is to gradually reduce the type of guns that people can own.
Amen, Brother Lott! he goes on to discuss the interesting fact that the .338 Lapua is the reigning king of long-range cartridges, because of better available bullets. At the International Tactical Rifle Championships (ITRC) in Gillette, WY, last year — which we featured in the first episode of Season 3 of SHOOTING GALLERY; if you didn't see it, shame on you! Pretty soon we'll have the DVDs for sale, and it will repeat in April — the most effective cartridge (and my choice in my long-range Remington 700) was the .300 Ultra Mag. Aside from its propensity for eating barrels (figure a life expectancy of 1,000 rounds per barrel), it's an extremely efficient cartridge in the thousand yard and beyond category.

Monday Morning...

"...having Prince, William Shatner, Puff Daddy and Mick Jagger on stage together...a sure sign of the Apocalypse..."

Robin Williams at the Golden Globes last night

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Computer Hell Continues...

It's 5:40PM Sunday, and so far I have gotten up from my computer to eat lunch and feed the fish! Oh yeah, and to get beer.

For the life of me I couldn't make my Sweetie's PC recognize either my network or a "mini-network" suing a crossover cable. I didn't have a USB HD or CD burner around here, so we sucked it up and copied off all the data onto 250-meg Zips. SNORE, NOD! Later, we can watch paint dry!

I am probably four hours away from finishing up the salvage job on the Damned H-P! I have even installed a new version of AOL, the John Kerry of software, for my Sweetie on my Cube! God, what a kludged-together piece of crap AOL is! Can't they hurry up and go bankrupt? They're even anti-gun.

Do you think when guacamole turns brown, you can still eat it? I'll let you know!

I have copied her data onto the Cube's HD and the new external HD, plus burned a back-up copy onto CDs through the newly updated Toast software. Everything is clean, clean, clean...if she wants to buy a new box and give me back my poor Cube, it will be a SIMPLE MATTER to change boxes. I love my Cube. It's the only computer I've ever had the slightest emotional relationship with. I totally understand why Cube owners, who are, in effect, the cargo cultists of the computer world, refuse to give 'em up and spend thousands to upgrade them to be almost as good as a new iMac. It's sort of like those people who keep updating their 1911s until they're almost as good as an out-of-the-box SIG.

Obsession is an amazing thing. I need some Advil.


Well, it's the weekend, and instead of skiing, reloading...heck, even blogging, I've once again descended into Comptuer Hell. It's partially my fault, too. Here's the story...

My Sweetie uses an ancient H-P Windows machine, so old that I think it uses punchcards or those great big reels of tape that you see on WWIII movies made in the mid-1960s. We have a sort of Maginot Line of Technology between our two home offices. On one side of the line, the computer as typewriter and messaging unit, facilitating a law practice. On the other side of the line, an EXPLOSION AT COMPUSA! Screens all over the place, blue ethernet wires snaking here and there, unonopened boxes of some gadget or the other.

Okay, that's an exageration! But between the television business, which screams out for faster, bigger computers to handle video, the fact that I actually am a writer and the other fact that I've been involved in personal computers since there were personal computers (heaven help me, but I consulted for IBM and wrote computer books in the Back When! Somewhere in my past is a book titled Everything You Need To Know About the IBM PCjr!), my office tends to be computer heavy. About 10 years ago I switched from PCs to Macs, and I've never looked back. I like to think of my office as the flight deck of the Starship Enterprise, if only Captain Kirk was allowed to have real guns and Spock had an aquarium.

Anyhow, my Sweetie's ancient PC lumbered to stumbling halt on Friday afternoon. Not a cataclysmic Yeti-scream crash, but more of a "I've fallen and I can't get up" moan. This, of course, triggered massive activity on my side of the Line based on the Three Laws of Computers:
1) Save the data
2) Access the problem
3) Go buy new stuff and chalk everything up to experience
Points 1 and 2 went pretty well. My Sweetie's computer firmly refused to believe it was part of the hard-wired network, so we got most of the data off in a motley Battleship Gallactica collection of various removable disks, CDs, weird Microsoft back-up files and even 1.44 meg "floppies" (Jeez, who knew anybody still used those things; much less that it was happening in my house!). The problem was a combination of old age and a truckload of sneaky crap that AOL (I know; I know!!!) downloaded onto the machine to "help" her use the internet.

Point 3 seemed a slam-dunk. I have a pretty good Mac, one of the natty Cubes that just never caught on, just lying around, having been obsoleted by an even faster Mac in the recent past. Now comes the confession...I'd been "putzing" around with the old Mac and had managed to crash it mightily. So when my Sweetie said, "Can't I just use the Cube for awhile?" all I managed was a sickly smile.

"Sure," I said. "I just need to dink it a little for you!" [DON'T SHOW FEAR!]

I frantically went to the Cube Owners forum groups, where help was available in the form of Alec, one of the gurus and all-around nice guy. After a couple of hours, it became obvious to both of us attractive...solution...

There went Saturday. After a few minutes of prayer and clearing the immediate area, Saturday morning I finally exercised the nuclear option, reformatted the Cube's hard drive, reinstalled the original operating system, OS9, rooted around in my closet and found all the original software installation disks and reinstalled the "mission-cricial" software (i.e., what disks I could find) in the OS9 versions so if I ever got the operating system upgraded to OSX I could install my current program upgrades, went to CompUSA and bought—at retail...retail!—a new copy of OSX Panther and an additional outboard hard drive, came home and had dinner with my Sweetie and her brother, who's a computer guru in his own right.

"How bad is her computer?" he asked when my Sweetie was out of the room. I shook my head. "Shoot it," he replied. "It's not worth saving."

Okay, so here's where I am this morning...OSX Panther is—so far—happily installing on the Cube. If everything goes right, which it won't, my plan is to spend enough time with her PC to allow me to vacuum off her entire hard drive through an ethernet crossover cable through the Cube into the new outboard drive. She can use the Cube for as long as she wants, and when she's ready to get her own box (or another one of my increasingly frequent cast-offs), moving data is's all on the outboard disk (and optical backups! Backups! Remember backups??? ALL MACHINES BREAK! Even Glocks break, occasionally!).

At noon I'm going to crack open my last six-pack of Abita Turbodog beer. OSX is busily installing Danish on the Cube (I couldn't face a custom installation this AM!).

Pray for me...

Friday, January 14, 2005

Lott on the NAS Report

John Lott has taken a few hits lately follwoing the National Academy of Sciences report [here's the press release; you can — and should — download the whole document from here] that gun control is a huge, screaming boondoggle that doesn't work but why don't we study it some more because, what the heck...

Specifically, the report found no evidence to back up Lott's carefully researched contention that "shall-issue" carry laws reduce crime. Here's Lott's response, as published on the Volokh Conspiracy blog. As usual, it's dense and meticulously researched:
It is hard to look through the NAS panel's tables on right-to-carry laws and not find overwhelming evidence that right-to-carry laws reduce violent crime. The results that don't are based upon the inclusion of zero values noted in point 1 above. Overall, the panel's own evidence from the latest data up through 2000 shows significant benefits and no costs from these laws.

My impression is that Gary Kleck also has a very similar reaction to the panels' findings regarding surveys on self defense.

Shooting Sports, Rules & Open Source

The good news this morning is that many of the ridiculous weight limits for specific classes, especially revolvers, in the new International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) rulebook that has caused so much controversy (and, yes, even outright anger) since it's release January 5 are apparently typographical errors, proof-reading mistakes, just plain wrong!


Without delving into how a rulebook that was released with the notation that it had been professionally edited to guarantee its accuracy could be so (to use professional terminology) friggin' screwed up, I'd just like to note that this is the second case of typo/misinterpretation in the second shooting sport in recent months. Wthout going into the details, a miswritten/misinterpreted memo wracked cowboy action shooting recently.

Well, maybe there's some cosmic convergence affecting editors...could happen, I suppose.

Before I go slay a chicken to read its entrails about this editor crisis, let me say a few words about the concept of open source. Open source is a software concept, whereby you as a software developer make the source code of your software available free of charge to other developers. The most famous open source software has been Linux.

Okay, stay with me here, because I'm going to make a sweeping generalization. The wholesale revolution of information technology (you know, like computers), followed by the wholesale revolution in communications technology (the inter-duh!-net) have triggered a third business revolution, which for lack of a better word (probably due to lack of coffee or just lack of available RAM), we'll call open source. CBS, for example, learned what happens when its proprietary news analysis functions are open sourced up by those pesky bloggers.

The reason I call this a revolution is that I believe we're seeing a fundamental change in people's expectations...customers, clients, members, the public at large are beginning to expect their businesses, clubs, organizations, news media, etc. to be open source, all the bloody entrails out there for their examination — and, in many cases, modifications. The new media/MSM debate is only the tip of the iceberg!

Okay, now let's whip from macro to micro. Most of the shooting sports organizations I've worked with are based on very old paradigms: They are very narrowly defined, proprietary, extremely secretive, obsessively concerned with tiny slivers of market share and about as far from open source as possible to be and still remain in this physical universe. I could count off a dozen reasons for this paranoid mindset, but let me just hit the Cliff Notes version: 1) There's not a lot of money in this sport compared to other similarly sized personal sports (think mountain biking), so it's hard to make money and keep it in your pocket; 2) we are constantly under attack by a well-financed, sophisticated enemy with no compunctions about telling lies and 3) perhaps because of those years of battle, we share a prevasive fear that we are what our enemies say we are, a shrinking vestige of older times.

Most of our shooting sports organizations are perfectly designed for the Cold War world of 1962. Unfortunately, it's 2005, and the customers (in the case of for-profit shooting sports organizations like IDPA or the Single Action Shooting Society, the cowboys) or the members (as is the case with the non-profits like the United States Practical Shooting Association or the National Sporting Clays Association) are beginning to demand open sourcing. "My way or the highway" just ain't cuttin' it anymore.

There are other critical factors that I could drone on endlessly about, but in an effort to get to the coffeepot quicker, I'm just gonna whiz through them:

1) Brands are big-time yesterday's news. Read this column in's only one of many. Here in 2005, no one much cares about brands. Because Gun World is fundamentally conservative, that message is just now getting to us — and in the last few weeks I have seen a ton of money lost by an organization who thought their brand was more significant that it turned out to be! IDPA? USPSA? SASS? NSCA? Snore, nod! Get over it.

2) Proprietary doesn't mean a heck of a lot in an internet world. If you're a shooting sports organization, what do you have that is proprietary in the real sense of the word...something that can't be obtained from another source? Your rules and rulebook? Using open source concepts, we can whip up a better one in about 20 minutes, have it on-line and reviewed by thousands of shooters and e-published by the end of the day. Your targets? Give me five minutes to design a new one with help from the on-line community, and another five minutes to let the contract to a printer and a metal cutter. Your sponsorships? See Point 1 about the death of brands.

SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO...where does that leave us? How about, let's cut the editors some slack and made a commitment to open source our organizations, for-profit or non-profit. Let's use the new technology to grow the shooting sports (which, BTW, are growing in spite of the boat-anchor effect of the organizations). Let's WAKE THE HELL UP!

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Monsters & Leftists

Interesting discussion of the similarities between how monsters and leftists reproduce:
Generally, though, monsters reproduce by hijacking the bodies and souls of the living - or by crafting perverse facsimiles of themselves that inevitably turn against them. Just like the Left!

By now, it's a right-wing pundit cliché to point out that birth rates on the Left are plummeting rapidly. Over in flawlessly liberal Europe, the non-Arab population treats childbearing the way the Atkins diet treats carbohydrates. Here in the states, the reproduction rates among the Religious Right - and in the red states generally - greatly outpace the reproduction rates of our over-educated latte-sipping superiors. But in one-man one-vote democracies, small populations either discard their political power, or discard democracy.

Ann of a Thousand Slays...

I look forward to Thursdays, and not just because it's almost Friday (although that does have a lot to do with it). Thursday is when Ann Coulter launches her weekly missiles at the media, liberals and assorted other targets of opportunity. This week, her take on the Rathergate report, now-fired producer Mary Mapes and her "source" for the forged documents, Bill Burkett:
Curiously, though Mapes trusted Burkett implicitly, she was very careful not to reveal his name to anyone at CBS, probably because she would have been laughed out of the room.

Instead, Mapes described Burkett in the abstract as: "solid," "without bias," "credible," "a Texas Republican of a different chromosome," a "John McCain supporter," "reliable" and "a maverick" – leaving out only "Burkett is convinced he can communicate with caterpillars" and "his best friend is a coffee table." His name was not important. It's not as if he was the sole source for a highly damaging story about the president eight weeks before the election or anything. Oh wait ...

At a meeting with CBS lawyers the day the story would air, Mapes "did not reveal the source's name or anything negative about the source," but "expressed 'enormous confidence' in her source's reliability and said that he was solid with no bias or credibility issues." She described Burkett as a "moralistic stickler." The subject of UFOs simply never came up.
Give this woman a sword, and she could give Uma Thurman a run for her money!

Cheesecake Redux

Maybe I've been too serious for awhile! Okay, I just got an e-mail that the world's greatest internet bikini site, Wicked Weasel in Australia, has started their 2005 competition for women around the world who wear their swimsuits. No, it's not porn! But you've got to give the Aussies credit. I think...

Excellent Column on the Shattering of MSM

This is a really excellent summary of the implications of the CBS report and the mainstream media (MSM) from the Wall Street Journal's always impressive Peggy Noonan:
A world where National Review is defined as conservative and Newsweek defined as liberal would be a better world, for it would be a more truthful one. Everyone gets labeled, tagged and defined, no one hides an agenda, the audience gets to listen, consider, weigh and allow for biases. A journalistic world where people declare where they stand is a better one.

Ballistic Fingerprinting A Complete Failure

The much touted ballistic fingerprinting system—creating a giant database of fired cartridges and bullets—put into place in Maryland and New York has proven such a spectacular failure that the program's architects are recommending disbanding the units and reassigning the officers to the far more productive DNA database unit.

Here's he story from US Newswire:
In its progress report on the Integrated Ballistics Identification System (IBIS), the Maryland State Police Forensic Sciences Division recommends that "this program be suspended, a repeal of the collection of cartridge cases from current law be enacted and the Laboratory Technicians associated with the program be transferred to the DNA database unit." So far, Maryland has spent $2.5 million over the past four years, with nothing to show for it. The report admitted, "Guns found to be used in the commission of crime...are not the ones being entered into" the system. [my emphasis]
DUH! The National Shooting Sports Foundation made this very point before the test programs were put into place. I know that it's hard to believe, but felons don't seem to frequent gunstores.

You can download the whole report at the webite. I suggest you download it, read it, then send a copy to the hapless, clueless folks at the Brady Center, which still clings to this take on ballistic fingerprinting:
We call on Congress and state legislatures to require every gun to be ballistic fingerprinted before it is sold so police would have a database for tracing crime guns. It is time to give police this important crime-solving tool.
One thing you can say for the anti-gun guys...they never let the facts get in the way of their fund-raising!

Cowboy Up!

Sometimes late at night, especially when I'm on the road, I'll watch anything on television. That's why I'm familiar with Da Ali G Show on HBO. The premise is that British comedian Sasha Baron Cohen pretends to be a journalist and asks famous people stupid questions, although if one spends any time watching morning television it sort of negates the whole premise. Ann Curry on the Today Show is every bit as vacuous, uninformed and dim as the Ali G. character, and she's a star reporter!

[ASIDE: Watching Ann Curry interview anyone smarter than a salad bar, i.e., not a Hollywood liberal, is an agonizing experience, on par with watching an 8-year-old recite the Gettysburg Address]

Anyway, Ali G. has found the limits of his comedy, and it's cowboys:
After telling the crowd he supported America’s war on terrorism, he said, “I hope you kill every man, woman and child in Iraq, down to the lizards ... And may George W. Bush drink the blood of every man, woman and child in Iraq.” He then sang a garbled version of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

The Roanoke Times reported that the crowd turned “downright nasty.” One observer said “If he had been out there a minute longer, I think somebody would have shot him.”
Yippie-ky-yah! There's a cowboy action shooting stage in this.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Proper Verbalization Technique!

There's a lot going around the internet on the upcoming lynching of the young Marine who shot an "unarmed enemy combatant" who was playing possum on the ground. Check out this quip from legendary firearms trainer John Farnam (whom you can see live and unexpunged on SHOOTING GALLERY this season):
Shooting the enemy when the media is there filming, from a friend in the system:

"It wasn't the actual shooting as much as the verbalization that upset so many grasseaters and put the Marine in question in the hot seat. 'He's still breathing! BANG! 'He's not now!' Accordingly, this is what I'm currently teaching my Marines:

Same scenario. Marine identifies a hostile combatant who is 'playing dead.' Marine yells, 'BOMB' or 'GRENADE' then fires a controlled pair into the enemy's head. Does the Marine know that the enemy combatant actuall y has a bomb or grenade? Probably not, but what matters is that the Marine warned his comrades and took reasonable, necessary, and immediate action. In warning his comrades, he also influenced everyone else in the area to believe that he believed this enemy combatant actually did have a bomb. CORRECT VERBALIZATION, AT THE CORRECT TIME, IS THE KEY.
There's some talk on the internet that Bill O'Reilly is trying to put something together to help this guy. I'll check it out and post.

Also, I can't recommend John Farnam's training classes enoug! Check out his classes at Defense Training International and buy his book, THE FARNAM METHOD OF DEFENSIVE HANDGUNNING.

Meanwhile, Back at Journalism 101... what do my two stories have to to with CBS. 60 MINUTES in particular?

Let's count the ways:

1) The elevation of "advocates" to "sources" to "experts." The Violence Policy Center is not an "educational" group, despite what their Google hit says. It is an advocacy group with a long history of "disinformation" — for example, read their smears on researcher John Lott, which have been repeatedly discredited. Yet CBS and 60 MINUTES repeatedly allows VPC spokespeople a platform and a latitude that is certainly outside the bounds of journalistic norms and, to me, crosses into unethical behavior. This from the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Code of Ethics:
• Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.
2) 60 MINUTES aired material on .50 caliber rifles that either it knew to be false or was unwilling to investigate to find out whether it was false or not. That is unethical by any and all journalistic standards. Again, from the SPJ Code of Ethics:
• Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.
The problem here, which the VPC knows only too well, is that mis/dis-information becomes, like my number, an entity unto itself, moving into the overall body of knowledge without regard of whether it is factual or not.

3) In its demonstration of the .50's ability to penetrate steel plate, there was no discussion of bullet composition, or, in other words, there was no attempt to make an apples-to-apples comparison of the .50 and the smaller caliber rifle. This from the 60 MINUTES transcript:
But New York City’s Police Commissioner Ray Kelly says the .50-caliber rifle is in a class by itself. He agreed to show 60 Minutes just how powerful the .50 caliber is.

First, a police sharpshooter fired the NYPD’s own .30 caliber sniper rifle at a steel target. Downrange, three football fields away, the three shots from the .30 caliber rifle bounced off the half-inch thick steel.

"You can see it hasn’t penetrated it," says Kelly.

Then the sharpshooter fired three rounds from a Barrett .50-caliber rifle at the same target.

"Went right through," says Kelly. "It is clearly a weapon of war, a round to be used in a wartime situation. It’s appropriate for the military. The effective range is about 2,000 yards. It’s a very formidable weapon."
It is a formidable weapon! But how about some apples-to-apples?

Here's a challenge for Commissioner Kelly: Sir...I would like to repeat the test you did on Sunday's show. Using the NYPD sharpshooter's rifle used in the original demonstration, I would like to fire five shots at the same steel plates engaged by the sharpshooter at the exact same distance. I challenge you — after signing the appropriate liability releases, of course — to stand behind the steel plates directly behind the bullseye. Based on your own demonstration, you should have absolutely nothng to worry about. Oh, by the way, I get to pick the bullets!

Any problems with that, other than the fact that you're going to look like young Swiss cheese at the end of this "demonstration?" Not to mention dead, since I'm likely to choose...oh, I don't about armor-piercing round XM993 .30 caliber, rated at punching holes through a half-inch of not just steel target, but full military armor-plate at 300 meters? Starting to sweat yet, Commissioner?

And as Commissioner Kelly must know (He is a police commissioner, right? Don't they have to know something about law enforcement?), there are police- and military-only rounds out there that make the XM993 look like you're shooting marshmallows. C'mon, Commish, what'd you have your sniper shoot the plate with, a nice .308 hollow-point or even the thin metal- jacketed Federal Match King?

This from the SPJ Code of Ethics:
• Avoid misleading re-enactments or staged news events.
Finally, let me quote this from the same Code of Ethics:
Journalists should:
• Clarify and explain news coverage and invite dialogue with the public over journalistic conduct.
• Encourage the public to voice grievances against the news media.
• Admit mistakes and correct them promptly.
• Expose unethical practices of journalists and the news media.
• Abide by the same high standards to which they hold others.
BOTTOM LINE: 60 MINUTES owes Ronnie Barrett an apology and we viewers an explanation of why, when the subject is guns, ethics go flying out the window!

Michael Invents the Survivalism Market & Survives!

So flash forward a few years, and I'm a reasonably successful magazine journalist. I've been hired by one of the men's magazines (a.k.a., the ones with pictures of nakked women in them) to do a story on the rise of survivalism, especially around Oregon's Rogue River valley. I pull some strings and get a free pass (I'm a gun guy, remember?), hang out for a while and write a pretty good story — at least good enough to inspire my pal Hank Williams Jr. to write a hit song, A Country Boy Can Survive, which is more of a legacy than most magazine articles every get!

Before the article is published, though, I get a call from the editor, who has a simple question — what is the dollar size of the survivalist market? A $50,000,000 a year market? A hundred? I spent several days looking and come back empty-handed. Nobody has researched the relatively new market enough to have put estimates to it.

"Take a guess," the editor said.

What the hell...I pick a number. It's a pretty good number, too, in that it's a best guess. But it is a guess. Nothing more.

"Cool," he said, and the story comes out with my number right there up front.

My number then goes on without me. I'm sent an article from one of the largest newspaper on the West Coast, quoting my number and attributing it to "sources." Next, my number migrates across country to the Great Grey New York Times, where it is attributed to "knowledgeable sources close to the industry." Then my number makes the jump to television, where a famous soon-to-be-retired anchor person mouthed it as "authoritative." It crawled into more magazine aritcles and even a couple of books and finally broke into Hollywood. I'm watching an episode of the old Lou Grant television show, where everyone's favorite loveable lefty Ed Asner plays everyone's favorite loveable lefty editor Lou Grant.

"Do you know how much money these whackos spend every year?" shouts loveable Lou, more or less. "They spend..."

And there it is. MY number, right there on television! I am so proud for it! I feel like a father who has given birth to...Brad Pitt! I envision it walking (maybe migrating, whatever it is that numbers do) down the Red Carpet, accepting the award for Best New Monetary Estimate of a Niche Right-Wing Market, partying at Spaagos with whomever was the Johnny Depp of the time — David Hasselhoff? I imagine my number thanking me for making it up and sending it out into the world.

But it was never more than a guess made by a guy on deadline.