Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Pass the Turkey And Smack An Aggie

Thanksgiving is all about traditions: the food, the family, the antacids, all those fun things. I have noticed a few things becoming my own little Thanksgiving rituals over the last few years.

The first one that comes to mind is a need to get the heck away from people for a few hours. One might guess I am a bit solitary by nature, since I’m typing blog entries late at night, with only the gliders for company. At any rate, I like to get away for a bit. Yes, I’m anti-social.

Most Thanksgiving days, I would wander off on my Dad’s place somewhere. I’d pack a rifle and see what was stirring out in the bushes. Or I’d go drive somewhere, just to get out of the house for a couple of hours.

This year, I snuck out and played golf for a few hours. What a great time that was. There were about four other losers on the course, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The weather was great, the course was in great shape, and it was at least a little bit of exercise. I can see making that one a tradition. It would be a neat thing if I ever had a child. I can imagine taking them out to the golf course and having the whole place to ourselves.

The turkey sandwich is the other tradition that I’ve noticed falling into. Having eaten slightly more than a starving elephant at lunch; a big meal just does not seem very appetizing around dinner. A turkey sandwich will fit the bill quite nicely. It has mustard and cheese, and not much else. I won’t spoil it with dressing or anything. The sandwich and a glass of tea will pretty much take care of food requirements for the night.

Another great Thanksgiving tradition has somehow managed to get moved until the Friday after Thanksgiving. That would be the annual football game of Texas vs. their retarded cousin Texas A&M. I really don’t care much for football until the bowl season, but I make an exception on occasion. Seeing A&M get pounded is always something to be thankful for. It’s too bad the game doesn’t come on at 7:00 Thanksgiving night anymore. That would leave plenty of time for golf, the sandwich, and the Aggies getting spanked until they drool. I could truly go to bed thankful, since UT usually wins. The last time they played on a Thanksgiving Thursday was my junior year in college. I was actually at that game, and it was about 20 degrees in Memorial Stadium that night. It’s better by far to watch it at home.

They’re not great traditions or anything, but they’re mine. Hook 'em Horns.

Monday, November 29, 2004

"So, young Grasshopper......"

We need to make a point to listen to our elders. They have some pretty valuable insight into what we go through from day to day. It’s called wisdom.

The best definition of wisdom that I can come up with is, “the lessons learned from screwing up really bad and living to tell the tale.”

Being a b-movie fan, I was always impressed with the stereotypical old kung-fu teacher. You know the character: the old Chinese guy with the snow white beard who lives atop the mountain, and can still beat the crap out of the hero, despite the fact the old man is blind and has a harelip or something.

Here’s the funny thing: that old man wasn’t born with all that knowledge. Somebody spent the first reel of his movie life beating the snot out of HIM. He started out with the same blank slate the rest of us did. He had to learn from somebody. Standing on the shoulders of giants, and all that.

One of the most important things that I have learned since practicing law is that all mistakes have happened before. I learned this from doing divorce work. Every divorce case fits into similar, recognizable patterns. The spouses all react in about the same way, and they all reached the divorce threshold in about the same way. There are no new stories out there. There are just variations on a theme.

One other thing I have noticed about counseling people: some of them will not listen. Despite your holding yourself out as an expert, seeing the situation the client is in clearly, and knowing exactly how the thing is going to play out, some clients just will not take your advice. Invariably, they pay a heavy price for having not listened.

Such is life. It's all been done before, and we can save ourselves a whole lot of headaches if we listen to those who messed up before us.

As I get older, I realize that my parents are much smarter than I ever gave them credit for when I was in high school. I can think of at least three instances in my life where I refused to listen to their counsel, and came out on the short end of the stick because of it. These were not minor mistakes, either. I’m still suffering the effects of them. Had I done as suggested, I would have spared myself years of grief.

The problem with most of us is that we have to figure things out for ourselves. We don’t have much faith in anything. Or when we do have faith, it is faith in things or people that really don’t deserve it. As a result, we go and do things the hard way. If we are lucky, we actually survive it. Worse for wear, we go on with our lives, thinking, “I’ll never do that again.”

Yeah, but it’s really too late, isn’t it? Now we have to deal with the stupid, ill-advised decision.

I wrote last week about how one moment in time can define an entire lifetime. One wrong step can send someone plummeting down the wrong path in life. One good way to avoid making that bad decision is to listen to those who have been there. We can learn much from the mistakes of others. We just have to be smart enough to take advantage of what they can offer us.

And to think it’s only taken 30 or so years for me to figure all this out.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving

This is the last post before the holidays. Take some time to thank the Good Lord for the chance to be here and do whatever it is he set you loose to do.

Spend time with the family. They have to love you, no one else in this world does. Be thankful for them. Extremely close friends also count in this regard.

Be thankful for being American. We have it so much better than everyone else in the world. Don't feel guilty about it, just be thankful for it. Crush anyone trying to take our American way of life away from us.

Be thankful Kerry didn't win the election. If he had, that poor Marine we keep hearing about would have been hauled into a World Court at the Hague for war crimes. Keep that in mind, and raise a stink to anyone who will listen about exactly why the kid should be left alone. After getting a nice medal, that is.

Be thankful the Cowboys are losing so terribly this year. Jerry Jones would have otherwise started building a monument to himself that would have humbled the Pharoes. Maybe he'll exercise a bit of restraint this way.

Be thankful Phoebe the Sugar Glider is not any bigger than what she is; say Godzilla-sized. She thinks she is anyway. If she were, we'd all be Thanksgiving turkey. I bet she has dreams of stomping cities flat and subjugating the entire human race. God knew what he was doing when he made her tiny. For which I am VERY thankful.....

In Defense of Sports

Do not be put off by the title of this piece. I am not going to come off as some sort of apologist for those thugs in the NBA. I think that event has been well-documented, and the whole lot of them should be banned from the game. That is not the point of this little diatribe.

My point is to acknowledge the importance of sports in American society today, and why sports should be an integral part of all our lives. Our children need sports.

Physical fitness is becoming less important in our society. I think athletes give us something to shoot for in terms of fitness. Trying to look like Alex Rodriguez is not necessarily a bad thing, if it makes one exercise a bit. We need that sort of thing.

Professional athletes make tremendous amounts of money. I have no problems with that. Athletes do not have long careers, so they need to make more money during their shorter working lifespans. If they are smart, they realize they are set up for the rest of their lives, and plan accordingly. Most do not, so they end up running dope, and go to prison. So be it.

The amount of money they make is staggering to us normal people. Again, this is not a problem. I am a firm believer in capitalism, and they would not make such money if the market could not bear it. As a case in point, look at the NHL. There has been no hockey this year because the players are demanding more than what the market will bear. While hockey is very popular, it is not nearly as popular as basketball, football, or baseball. So the players are going to starve this year. It serves them right for being greedy. The NBA will experience the same thing, once the players start demanding more than what the owners can afford to pay. So let’s be happy for the players. It’s nice to know that someone with a particular talent can make a ton of money. It gives us all hope.

Let us also realize that sports sometimes shows the absolute best in humanity. There is nothing like watching a team get kicked around for the first half of a game, and then make a miracle comeback. That stirs the human spirit, and teaches us all to never give up; no matter the odds. Those sorts of moments make us all glad to be alive.

Forget the pros for a minute. Let us instead focus on what sports means to our children. Athletics teaches children what the world is really about. One must win to survive. The best at something will be rewarded. The strongest, fastest, and smartest prevail in athletics. Nobody cares who came in second place. Work hard, and be rewarded.

That is life in a nutshell. Sports are a macrocosm of life. Failure is not an option, and one must be the best they can be in order to survive.

This message is not getting across in schools other than in sports. Schools have been inundated with touchy-feely liberal feel-good crap which absolutely ruins children. We don’t want to give children f’s because it might hurt their feelings. Well, boo-hoo. If one fails something, feelings deserve to be hurt. The kids who get A’s deserve them. They are smarter than the other children, or study harder. Either way, the talent and hard work is rewarded.

The children of character see failure as a motivator. Sure, it hurts. It just brings a person of character back stronger the next time. Or if all else fails, it forces them to acknowledge their limitations, and go on to something they can be good at. Not everyone is going to be good in math or English. We need to identify who is good at what, and allow them to focus their energy on things they are good at. It will make their lives much more productive.

The sports arena is about the only place that will teach a child these hard truths. Life really is about winning. Hard work and effort will be rewarded. Crush your enemies, or they will crush you.

Do I think sports are overemphasized? Probably so. I’d like to see more kids competing on grades instead of the gridiron. Nevertheless, that does not detract from the importance of sports. Competition is what life is all about. If it is not learned in the classroom, it is learned on the battlefield of sports.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

More About John Wesley Hardin And A Life Lesson

Another thing that struck me about the famed gunfighter was his unflinching honesty. Several accounts mention Hardin grabbing a horse and fleeing from some vengeful posse. He would later return the horse, along with a bit of money for the use of the animal.

Not your typical outlaw, was he?

Hardin spent about 15 years in jail. Upon his release, he was licensed to practice law in Gonzales County. He also received a full pardon from the governor of the State of Texas. This should tell the reader something about the ridiculous myths that surrounded Hardin, such as his allegedly killing a man for snoring. Someone who would take a life that callously would certainly not be eligible for a pardon. Unless he was a friend of Bill Clinton, that is.

After his release from prison, Hardin found himself a widower, with three grown children. He was at a bit of a loss. His plans while in prison focused on the life he would build for his family upon his release. When he got out, he found his family had grown up, and his wife had died.

This series of events led Hardin eventually to the saloons of El Paso, where he was shot in the back of the head while shooting dice. By all accounts, Hardin had lost his way in life. He became a heavy drinker, which was something he had avoided even at his most desperate times on the outlaw trail. He consorted with women of questionable character, which is again not something he had done in his early years. He became the man of his legend, quick-tempered and dangerous. His family was gone, and his legal career had not exactly taken off. He was a man without a purpose or plan in life, and that led him eventually to his death.

Again, there is a lesson here for everyone. During Hardin’s bloodiest outlaw days, he lived by a code of ethics. He never stole, he treated everyone with respect, and he tried to avoid trouble. Despite several states’ worth of people trying to kill him, Hardin tried to build a future for himself which would not involve violence. He put his family first, and his family never turned their back on him. His family gave him strength, and they supported him through some pretty rough times. Only in his final days did Hardin become vulnerable. He had turned his back on family, and had become a rougher character than he had ever been before. He had no plan for his life, and began living from day to day. This lifestyle literally killed him.

Due to his intense grief, Hardin turned his back on what had been so important to him in his youth. He began living for the moment, without any thought for the future. I have seen people just like that. They seem to come to no good end.

We are all here to serve God’s purpose. When we forget to live for his purpose, pretty rough things seem to happen. Hardin came through rough times, while he followed a code of ethics learned from his Methodist-minister father. When he lost sight of those values, he suddenly lost his invulnerability. There was no bouncing back from two bullets in the head.

Is it dangerous to live by a code of ethics? I think it is far more dangerous not to.

I'll probably be off blogging from Tuesday until Sunday. Everyone have a happy Thanksgiving, and God Bless.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

John Wesley Hardin And The Strange Twist Of Fate

I claim distant kinship to John Wesley Hardin, one of the most famous gunfighters in the Old West. An interesting genealogy, to say the least. Hardin was a cowboy, gunslinger, and minister’s son. He was also a licensed attorney, which is somewhat a point of pride. He practiced in Gonzales County, which will forever be my home.

By the time he was 18, Hardin had killed approximately 23 men. He would add another 25 or so before he was shot in the back of the head.

Growing up, I remember hearing ads on tv for a Time/Life series of books about the Old West. One such ad mentioned Hardin as being so mean he killed a man for snoring. That did not seem like something I wanted to be associated with. Fortunately, I found out that particular story was not true. Nor were most of the stories associated with his alleged cold-blooded killings.

Contrary to popular belief, Hardin never robbed anyone, and never stole a thing in his life. Most outlaws of the Old West were thugs, robbers, and thieves. Hardin was none of the above. He was one of the most honest people in Texas. Had his life not taken the turn it did, I would dare say Hardin might have ended up as President of the United States.

I have read three biographies of Hardin so far. They portray a very interesting character, but not one who was given to killing for sport, or just out of meanness. In fact, I am hard-pressed to find an instance where Hardin did not kill anyone who did not try to kill him first. He himself claimed he never killed a man who did not deserve it. I tend to agree with his claim, looking at the historical evidence.

Stories abound regarding Hardin's wonderful proficiency with a pistol. He may have been the most technically adept of any gunfighter. I have seen an ace of spades from a deck of cards, in which he had put five shots touching together in the black. He shot from a distance of ten yards or more. That's awfully good shooting, even today.

Though I do have to wonder at the road Hardin ended up taking in his life. The first man he killed set him on a path which eventually led him to prison. Save for that one incident, the world might not have ever heard of John Wesley Hardin. Every gunfight that followed stemmed from the first time he had to pull the trigger. I think it amazing the path one incident can throw a person down. One moment in time can change the course of a person’s life forever. That should be a lesson to all of us. I wonder where I would be today if certain things had gone differently in my life. I wonder if Hardin ever thought along the same lines.

The first man Hardin killed was an ex-slave, whom Hardin had defeated in a wrestling match. The match was in fun, but it ended with the ex-slave receiving a scratch on the face, which he swore he would kill Hardin over. Indeed, the ex-slave tried. Unfortunately, he tried to kill one of the most fantastic pistol handlers the world has ever seen.

Fearing the wrath of Reconstruction-era Buffalo Soldiers, Hardin began the life of a fugitive. He was 15 years old.

I concede that Hardin did place himself in situations that probably should have been avoided, but Hardin never killed except in defense of self or family. One lawman of the day noted that he had never seen a man who needed as much self-defending as John Wesley Hardin.

In many ways, Hardin was a person worthy of admiration. He never backed down from a challenge, even when the odds seemed impossible. He never sought out trouble, and would have preferred to lead a peaceful life. He did not give his word lightly, and when he did; he would stick to it though it might mean his death. He was a natural warrior, and had an almost supernatural skill with weapons. I would call these traits virtues.

Far from being a cold-blooded imbecilic killer, Hardin was a well-educated man. He was licensed to practice law in Texas, and wrote his own autobiography. Education did not cause him to shirk hard physical labor. He worked as a cowhand for many years, as well as a farm hand.

Like most of the truly talented gunslingers, Hardin was never defeated in a fair fight. Instead, he was shot unawares in the back of the head. His murderer would not have stood a chance in a straight-up fight.

The life of John Wesley Hardin has run its course, leaving us with one of the greatest characters of the Old West. I cannot help but wonder what his life would have been, had he not had to end a sore loser’s life in self-defense. It makes me look at my own life, and wonder how I came to be on the path I am on now. But for certain events, what would my life have been like? The choices we make can have consequences which change our lives forever. Sometimes we do not even get to make a choice. Things happen, and we are thrown off course into directions we never imagined. Whole lives are made and ruined, on the turn of one event. John Wesley Hardin is a prime example.

Little Green Footballs....

...has a link to Kevin Sites website. Kevin is the photographer who has gotten a brave Marine into hot water over in Fallujah. I'm not liking the man very much at this point. I still think he should go in ahead of the Marines, if he thinks he's that important. Let's see how much he respects the job our soldiers are doing then.

As LGF so eloquently states, reporters and media have a bit of an ego problem.

Read the post and follow the links from here.

This is a great website, reporting things that are not getting much press from the mainstream media. I have made it required reading. I suggest everyone do the same.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Lay Off The Marine, Pinkos

Is there something wrong with chunking a grenade into a room filled with people who were just shooting at you? I don't think so. I would be unable to control the impulse to make sure nobody in there shot at me anymore. So imagine what I think about a Marine only firing one round into a wounded Iraqi who might have been trying to kill the Marine and his squadmates. The Iraqi got off light.

This Marine over in Fallujah has landed in some hot water, undeservedly. I think he showed remarkable restraint, all things considered. He only fired a shot. I think I would have been tempted to call in an air strike.

This shows why I would not be a good soldier. The kind of self-restraint this Marine showed is incredible. This guy was checking for prisoners. I would have done everything in my power to make sure there WERE no prisoners. This is why that Marine is a far better man than I ever will be. I'm probably six kinds of evil for thinking that, but oh well.

This whole incident makes me respect our soldiers all the more. I cannot fathom walking into a room, knowing everyone in that room was just shooting at me seconds ago. The courage that takes is almost inconceivable. As a civilian who has not been in combat, what right do I have to pass judgment on this Marine? None at all, I think. We should all keep that in mind. Though I do tend to think his actions were perfectly justified, from what I can see.

I think high explosives would have handled the situation nicely, from my point of view. Besides, the enemy has a penchant for blowing themselves up anyway. Why not help out a bit? Don't the liberals want people to exercise their deviant impulses? The Marine was just trying to be tolerant of the Iraqi's diversity. He gave the Iraqi 5.56mm of tolerance. A little goes a long way.

This brings me to another point. Why in the world do we allow reporters with our soldiers in combat anyway? It seems to me our soldiers might be worried about keeping these nimrods alive, when they should only be worried about killing the enemy and keeping themselves alive. Embedded reporters are not helping anything. If anything, let the reporters go in first, ahead of the troops by about 50 yards. At least they'd do some good. Imagine the great footage they'd get. Somebody would send the camera back later, I'm sure.

In WWI and II, the media got footage the military released. That way, no secret information was made public knowledge. (Remember Geraldo?) This media footage has been made into propaganda for the enemy. That used to be called sedition. Now, it's called free press. This is wrong. It endangers our troops, it provides intelligence to the enemy, it provides propaganda for the enemy, and it encourages the rest of the world to jump to conclusions; without the benefit of the trooper's context. I see no good in it whatsoever.

Lay off the Marine, pinkos. He's a better man than we are, by far.

Can I Take Anything Home With Me?

Hugh Hewitt’s site has a link to what may be the coolest place on Earth. Or at least, the most well-armed. Thanks to the God of the Blog once again.

The Frazier Arms Museum. My new vacation destination.

Friday, November 19, 2004

The Final Frontier

One thing that really made me like Bush all the more came up around the middle of this year. The President wants a moon base, with the intention of using it as a springboard for a manned mission to Mars. This is long overdue.

The political opposition is fierce, of course. This should not come as a surprise. If President Bush were to say the sky is blue, at least 4 different Democratic presidential candidates would get on the air to call him a liar. Even discounting the pure politics of the President’s position, a visionary is seldom appreciated until the full benefit of his vision has come to pass. There is plenty of historical precedent. Most people thought Orville and Wilbur Wright were crazy. Just look where their crude airplane brought us less than 100 years later.

Why the space program is so important? As a nation, we have blinded ourselves to the benefits of exploration. Some say the only way to get America back into space is to discover some sort of resource up there that could be exploited. This is quite narrow-minded. There are far more benefits to space exploration than are readily apparent.

The human spirit is a pioneering one. Our insatiable curiosity has led us to what and where we are today. If the early explorers had not the courage to see what was over the next hill, the known world today would be a poor place indeed. None of us would be here. Exploration is one of man’s basic instincts, and it has served us well.

Unfortunately, we do not seem to indulge it. One wonders whether some of the problems down here might have something to do with the fact that there are no more worlds to conquer. There is not much of our planet that has not been explored, either on foot or via satellite. The desire to find out what else is out there has dimmed somewhat, and we are worse as a species because of it. We do not venture much past our own backyards, and we do not really see the need. Why explore for new territory if we simply can run to the 7-11 for a frozen burrito? Nobody thinks much about colonization of other worlds from the Laz-E-Boy. There is not much desire to suffer heat, cold, and possible death in space when all we need can be found at Wal-Mart. It is time to shake off this lethargy before it kills us all.

We are at our best as a species when we have ambition. Our way of life has made us pretty complacent, but there is an entire universe out there waiting for us to see it. That would require some of us drop the remote, hit pause on the TEVO, and work a little bit. It would require throwing off slovenly contentment, and that seems hard to do unless the Laz-E-Boy is actually on fire. It would require us to turn out some scientists and mathematicians from increasingly substandard schools.

Just over our heads is a frontier of unimaginable proportions. Infinity is pretty darn big. Yet what are we doing to get out there and see some of it? Why do we not indulge the passion we all have to see new things? It is because we lack vision. We do not seem to need it anymore, and we are paying a price. Our school children are almost uneducated when they graduate, we are fat and slovenly, crime rates are escalating, and the world suddenly seems a whole lot smaller. We need to indulge our passion for exploration, if only to save our souls.

Forget for a moment what a boon to the spirit the space program could be. The tangible benefits of such a grand quest are not to be downplayed. Think about it. How much of the technology in our daily lives resulted from something the space program developed? Satellite communication, Teflon, titanium alloys, the list is almost too long to even contemplate. All these things came about in order to keep some astronaut alive in an environment that makes Antarctica look like a day at the beach. When we have a goal to work for, all sorts of great things seem to be discovered. Some are by design, but some of the greatest breakthroughs happen while looking for something else.

Just imagine what sort of technology our scientists and engineers could dream up, given the need. Imagine what America’s industry could mobilize to produce if the market were there. Think about how the economy would grow, think of the jobs created, and think about how much we would benefit from the new things discovered. Think about the physics breakthroughs that are just itching to be made. Entire industries could form around a revamped space program. It has happened before. The potential economic growth boggles the mind.

President Bush has given us a vision of the future. However, the benefits of working for that future could be felt in the here and now. There would be more jobs, more money, and more technological benefits. Science would expand its horizons, as we look to solve problems like crossing 36 million miles to Mars. The benefits to society as a whole are almost incalculable. We need something to shoot for as a species. However, realizing the vision would require a bit of work. Most worthy endeavors usually do. If we can get past the politics, the doubting Thomases, and the general laziness, the possibilities are literally infinite.

So what are we waiting for?

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Skin That Smokewagon--Two Guns Better Than One?

Let us discuss some fundamental truths about packing heat for self-defense. First off, if one is not licensed, do not do it. If one cannot be bothered to spend a relatively small amount of time and effort getting legal, then one probably is not responsible enough to carry a gun anyway. Legal armament is the whole point here.

Carrying a weapon is a big responsibility, both to the armed citizen and everyone around them. While I firmly believe the right of free people to keep and bear arms is the most sacrosanct of human rights, I also believe that exercising those rights imposes responsibilities as well. When one votes, one should be educated about what they are voting for. Those who carry guns are not only stepping up and protecting themselves, they are also claiming responsibility for everyone around them. So it is imperative the armed citizen be extremely well-educated about weapons and their safe handling.

I will not go into a lengthy dissertation about the rules of gun handling in this post. I’ll leave it with the most sacred and fundamental of safety rules: every gun is loaded, and should be treated as such. Do not point it at anything that you would mind having a bullet hole in.

So how does the armed citizen go about being armed? Therein lies the difficulty. I cannot think of many places where a private citizen is allowed to carry a weapon openly. The police have it easy in this regard. They get to carry big autos right out in the open. Private citizens do not get that luxury. Most jurisdictions require the weapon to be concealed. This raises quite a few problems.

I think one should carry as much gun as possible under the circumstances. There is a correlation between bullet size and stopping power. So the idea is to have the biggest gun possible under the circumstances.

Clint Smith, the owner and operator of Thunder Ranch, has pointed out that a handgun is really not the weapon of choice in combat. He rightly states a rifle or shotgun is superior to a pistol. However, we cannot go around toting rifles and shotguns in public. That leaves the armed citizen with a handgun of some sort, and that handgun needs to be concealed.

I live in Texas, and this state tends to be hotter than hell at least 10 out of 12 months in the year. It is fairly easy to conceal a big handgun in a belted holster under a jacket or sweatshirt. It seems to be the easiest and quickest to draw a weapon from a belted holster. So I think the jacket/belt holster combo is the perfect concealed rig. Texas citizens do not get to wear that too often, however.

That leaves a Texan with few options, each of which are not as good as carrying a belted holster.

There is the inside-the-pants rig. This seems to offer a good way to carry a fairly large handgun concealed with an untucked shirt. There are a few problems with this sort of rig. First, it requires sticking a holster and gun into the waistband. That tends to be uncomfortable, no matter where the gun is placed. A full sized weapon tends to be pretty bulky, no matter the make or model. Manufacturers make all sorts of promises, but none have lived up to the hype of a small, concealable, lightweight and safe gun yet. I hold out hope.

Secondly, there is a tendency for the shirt to ride up, exposing the gun. This creates all sorts of problems, most of them legal in nature.

The second option is a holster inside the waistband, which can have a shirt tucked over it. Sounds great, does it not? The problem here is that draw time is significantly hampered, and one still has the bulky problem to deal with. Plus, it can look as though one is packing some sort of weird medical device when using a full-sized weapon. There is usually a bulge to the discerning eye. The best of these rigs appears to be the Pager Pal, but it works best with a smaller handgun. And the draw time is still much slower than it would be from the belt.

The fanny pack and its ilk conceal weapons perfectly. They just do not fit in anywhere outside a computer convention at a summer theme park. So what does the well-dressed citizen who packs heat actually carry?

The pocket holster is one of the most concealable options out there. Draw time is pretty rapid, and a good pocket holster is pretty much invisible. The problem here is that a full-sized weapon is out of the question with this option. A very small pistol is the only choice here, and it had better be lightweight as well. The problem with lightweight pistols is that recoil is bad in major calibers. That leaves the armed citizen with carrying a smaller caliber, such as .22, .25, .32, .380, or some such.

The best option with a pocket holster seems to be a lightweight .38 Special revolver, preferably hammerless. There are .357’s available in that configuration, but they tend to kick far too much to be accurate in these small packages. Most people can handle the .38 with little or no trouble, and there are a variety of great small revolvers out there. Smith and Wesson comes immediately to mind.

However, a small revolver is limited in ammunition capacity before reloading. Usually five shots is the limit. Hopefully five shots should be more than adequate, but one never knows. Since most weapons these days are ten shot or better automatics, a wheelgun shooter is at a bit of a disadvantage.

It would seem a person choosing to carry a small, limited capacity gun needs to have a backup, full-sized automatic concealed elsewhere. Carry the small piece, but in case of an extremely nasty situation, have a large capacity auto waiting in the wings. In other words, use the small gun to provide fallback cover to the big auto.

Here endeth the pontificating. Any disagreements or other thoughts on the subject? Any commentary would be welcome.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Artistic Criticism From A Guy Who Has A John Wayne Portrait

I have long maintained the National Endowment for the Arts should be blown up and the ashes scattered to the wind. Oh sure, some starving artist is probably reading this and screaming their other ear off. Let us all face the facts. They are probably starving because they suck.

The starving artists' whine is usually the same thing: “Let me be free to express myself through my art.”

Okay. I really have no problem with expressing oneself through art. What I have a problem with is paying for crap with my tax dollars. Under no circumstances would I ever voluntarily give money to someone like Robert Mapplethorpe. Ever. Not even if my life depended on it.

That’s my personal opinion. There are those who love his work, and that is perfectly fine as well. They can feel free to support it all they want. They can buy his photos; give him money for a gallery, whatever. Just do not ask for my contribution, because it will not happen. Neither do I want my tax dollars going for something which I think repugnant.

Some would argue that if it were not for our tax dollars, the artist could not afford to create such wonderful masterpieces.

Well, darn. I play guitar. I have nowhere near the talent to support myself by doing it for a living. Would I like to? Yes. It beats practicing law any day of the week. Have I tried it for a living? No. As the great Dirty Harry stated so eloquently, “a man’s got to know his limitations.” I don’t expect the government to give me money to play my guitar. If I was any good at it, people would pay me to do it. If I can’t support myself by having enough people buy my artistic expression, I probably should go and get a real job. I can then be free to pursue my art, at my own expense. I do not think I have the right to inflict my playing on the rest of the world, at their expense.

I have no problem with the government having artists create murals for public buildings and whatnot. Do not misunderstand me. However, the government has no place whatsoever funding things no sane human would ever buy.

In the Middle Ages and Renaissance periods, artists were supported by the patronage of rich men. They also painted and sculpted on commission from the Catholic Church, and governments. The artist painted things they liked, and they bought them. Or they created things they were specifically hired to do. Michelangelo and Da Vinci are prime examples. The marketplace dictated what they did. If they did other things; they did them as side gigs, perhaps not intending to sell them at all. They did it for their own artistic fulfillment. Again, I have no problem with that. Produce whatever you want on your own time, and on your own dollar.

The prime example that comes to mind is the Nimrod who filled a bottle full of urine and then suspended a crucifix upside down in it. I have no idea what that is all about. Nor do I care. Somebody sufficiently warped can buy that, if they want to. I just do not want to have to fund something like that. Perhaps this artist can produce a great mural to put up on the inside of an office building. If so, fine. It can pay for the other project. My income taxes should not be a part of such lunacy.

To some extent, the patronage system does still work. Artists still produce things on commission. As noted, they still produce things for government buildings. I have no problem with supporting art for specific purposes.

One can argue the dangers in this approach. Is the artist going to be so stifled by the marketplace that they cannot produce anything other than what the public demands? Is that bad for culture and society?

I have no idea. I just believe the beauty of capitalism works every time. Plus, I do not think society is missing anything big with the Jesus in the urine-thing.

Look at the trend in music today. I have noticed that if a particular band finds a successful formula, 50 others just like it will pop up overnight. They sound the same, look the same, use the same drugs, and overdose and die the same. Remember the 80’s hair bands? The 90’s grunge acts? The Britney clones? The so-called artists there produce what they think the public wants. Sure, the public will buy it for awhile. Then the public gets their fill, and quits buying it. They replace it with something else, which stays fresh and original until all the other companies produce clones of it. Thus the cycle continues. The marketplace eventually will dictate what the artists produce. Something new comes along when it needs to.

I do not want to control the content of the art. I just do not want any of my money going to art that I despise, or am morally opposed to. Let the people who like it pay for it. It seems only fair.

Yes, I really do have a John Wayne portrait. If I can ever figure out where my wife hid it, I'll put it back up, damnit.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Not A Bad Start

Well, I have not blogged in several nights now. I suddenly discovered sleep again.

At any rate, let us take stock of the week and how it played out.

First, Arlen Specter. I have beat that particular horse to death this week. He is still there, but I think the conservative portion of the country got the message through to him quite nicely. He will play ball. No more Borking the nominees.

Second, we have the Scott Petersen murder trial verdict. I think we all feel like a little justice was served in that case. The deliberations certainly had some scary moments, and I thought perhaps another OJ incident was looming. It seems the deadweight on the jury got thrown off, and the clear-thinking individuals got things done.

We have to give credit to the defense in this case. They obfuscated nicely for a couple of months. They were unable to create a reasonable doubt, however. However, is it possible Satanic cultists kidnapped Laci, took her to the exact spot where they knew her husband was fishing, and then killed her and Connor?

Of course it is theoretically possible. So were other theories such as alien abduction, a rampaging Sasquatch, and an insane Larry “Bud” Melman having committed these two murders. It is just not too dang likely.

I think they would have better luck with the one-armed man defense, myself. Maybe it would have worked better than it did for Richard Kimball.

How about the TWO murders? Kind of a kick in the crotch to the pro-choice movement, was it not? An unborn fetus can be murdered. Hmmmm. Very interesting. That creates an ethical dilemma of monumental proportions to a pro-choice juror, does it not?

Yasser Arafat met his eternal reward this week. Hopefully he is roasting merrily in hell even as I write this. The father of modern terrorism shuffled off this mortal coil, and some say it was the result of AIDS. It seems Yasser might have been a closet Tinkerbell, if one believes the Internet rumors, as well as what was reported on a few talk radio programs. Whatever the cause, it was a good thing.

It was very sad to see the media acting this week as though Santa Claus had died, as opposed to one of the greatest mass murderers in history. Yes, he probably did not pull the trigger in many of them. He is no less worthy of the title of monster, however. That argument does not let Adolph Hitler or Charles Manson off the hook, so it does not cut the mustard here. I am surprised Dan Rather hasn’t petitioned to have him buried Arlington National Cemetery.

Arafat is dead, and I am glad he is gone. I just worry that what replaces him might turn out worse. We shall see.

We also have the whole Fallujah situation. It appears to be going well for our troops and the Iraqis. Sadly, we have lost about 38 men, and have quite a few wounded. I know we all pray the remainder make it through unscathed, killing as many of those terrorist weasels as they possibly can. Every terrorist dead is one less we have to worry about, and thanks be to the Marines and other troops on the ground for doing the job.

Was the attack necessary? You bet. Geraldo Rivera had an interesting piece on Fox News Earlier. It seems the troops discovered a Western woman beheaded, disemboweled, and further mutilated. People who would stoop to kidnapping civilians and doing such a thing certainly do not deserve to live.

Let us hope and pray this week brings another terrorist mastermind dead, and brings Iraq closer to democracy. Let us also hope and pray that our troops return safely, after a job very well done. We should also hope and pray that our system of justice wins a couple more this week.

All in all, a great week for the good guys.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Don't Let the Doorknob Hit You On The Way Out

Some Democrats are threatening secession from the Union. Powerline’s got a great couple of pieces on the subject.

Several Kerry supporters in Florida have had to seek therapy. I thank LGF for once again pointing out that one. Here’s the link.

So what is to be made of all of this? The liberals think we who went red this year are not even fit to be in the same country with them. Simply put, liberals think they are better than the rest of us. They think they are smarter, more tolerant, and more in touch with how the rest of the world thinks. They think the values that we in the red hold dear are stifling, and they do not even want to debate the issues anymore. Instead, they want to take their toys and go play somewhere else.

Bottom line: they hate us.

Remember my premise last week? Both sides cannot get along anymore. We are too diametrically opposed on the major issues. That may have sounded a bit harsh, but tell me that you the reader have not thought about how nice it would be to have a liberal-free country?

My problem was that I did not know where else I would go. No other country has gun rights. No other country has a Constitution and First Amendment anywhere close to the same as the good old US of A. Nobody else even has decent plumbing, for heaven’s sake.

Lo and behold, the liberals have presented the solution. THEY want to leave.

Fine. I’ll help them pack. I have two conditions: make sure they take San Francisco with them when they go, and don’t let them ever come back. I promise we will not wage a war to go get them. We’ll be ok without them. There will be no War of Southern Aggression.

Let’s see how long a society comprised of people who believe in income redistribution and entitlement lasts. Let’s see how long a society which encourages gay marriage makes it. How will a country whose primary industry is Michael Moore films make enough bread to survive? How will a society that thinks there are no hard and fast rules actually make it? Our laws are based on Judeo-Christian ethics, for the most part. Chunk morality out the window and see what kind of laws they end up with. Let us not forget that a society needs to replenish itself. You can’t make any new society members if you drown them in saline every time they are conceived.

It would truly be a great thing, on the one hand.

On the other hand, we might all suffer as a result. We need the exchange of all sorts of political thought to make a great society. It gives us something to feel smug and superior about. The debate makes us stronger. I don’t think the other side should win, necessarily, but we do need to listen to them now and again. It’s no fun if we just agree all the time. You can’t enjoy being right if you have nobody who is wrong to laugh at.

However, don’t let my worries and concerns hold up the liberals who want to secede. I’ll find somebody else to debate. I can’t wait to have heated discussions over the relative superiority of the .45 over the 9mm.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

OK, I Decided I Don't Like the Guy

Newsmax has an interesting article which states Bush might have lost Pennsylvania BECAUSE of his Arlen Specter support. Check the article out here.
If that does not work, try this one and do a little searching. You'll find it.

The article notes Specter sought the President’s endorsement, then moved WAY away from it after his election.

Specter is pro-abortion. He seems a bit too liberal for my tastes even if you take the abortion issue out of the picture.

The question is whether or not Specter might jump ship and become an evil Democrat. Is it possible that if he does not get the chairmanship of the committee, he might defect?

I think a message needs to be sent to this guy and the rest of the red states: the conservatives won.

Specter can undo much of the good that was done in this election. Let’s keep in mind he voted down Robert Bork those years ago. He will not be friendly to a strict constructionist of the Constitution.

Robert Bork gave a great interview on the Laura Ingraham show this morning, by the way. It may come as no surprise that he thinks Specter is a snake in the grass.

Write your senators today, as well as Bill Frist. Tell them no to Specter. We’ll be better off for it.

Specter of Evil

The debate rages on Arlen Specter and his apparent undermining of conservative judicial nominees.

I think I would rather see Pee-Wee Hermann as Chairman of the Judicial Committee over Specter. I don't think I've ever really liked the guy. His opposition to Robert Bork did not win him any brownie points in my book. He has also never seemed quite conservative enough, to me. But who is??

Hugh Hewitt (as usual) has a great deal of discussion on the issue on his blog site. He's probably one of the best informed people in the country on this issue, and he makes some compelling arguments as to why Specter isn't quite the Devil incarnate. I think Specter's probably not the Devil, just one of the lesser imps.

Plus, he has an evil-sounding name. That's got to count for something.

Back In Business

I'm back from a nice couple of days in south central Texas--God's country if there ever was one.

It was great to camp out with old friends. I was again reminded of the important things in life, as well as why old friends are still friends. While there are differences between us that were not there 15 years ago, there is still common ground. It's always nice to get back to where one came from, and be with the people who have been there since the beginning.

As always, it was great to spend time with my family. I don't get to do that often enough anymore, and I treasure every minute I get to spend with them.

The whole trip made me focus again on what is important in life. Friends and family have to be pretty high on the list.

We can earn all the money in the world. We can become powerful and prestigious. Ultimately, it does not mean a thing without the ones we love. In fact, I would argue that success in life cannot be possible without friends and family. I would not be where I am today without them, I can assure you. Though I have to wonder sometimes exactly where that really is....

Friday, November 05, 2004

One Big Happy Family

Leftists and those on the right just aren't going to get along. Ever. We believe in completely different things. How can we coexist with what we believe is evil incarnate?

Ultimatley, I do not believe that we can. Dennis Praeger has a really good column about that very issue, which I'll post in full later, or at least link. He doesn't draw the same bleak conclusion that I did, though.

If one believes it all comes down to good versus evil, and good cannot abide evil's continued existence.....Well, you get the idea.

Here's some pictures of how bad it is on the left. I found this via Little Green Footballs. The scenes depict the goings-on of an anti-Bush rally after the election.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

How 'Bout The Prognosticating Gliders?

You thought I was making all that up, didn't you?

They were a hell of a lot more accurate than Zogby.

Chads? We Don't Need No Stinking Chads!

So the election has come and gone. Kerry conceded, and we are now underway. I think this was an overwhelming rejection of the liberal agenda, and I am heartened. Perhaps the US will not fall into socialism. At least, not in the next four years. I’ll start to sweat in 2008 again. I’ll comment more on this subject after I ponder it for the next several days. For now, I want to confine this post to the actual process itself. Being part of Election Day 2004 was pretty darn cool.

I would happily volunteer to work the polls again. I do not want to be the guy in charge, but I think I can make a decent aide-de-camp. I have the organizational skills of a spider monkey with an extra chromosome, so I had better not be running the thing. Matt Graham did an amazing job running Precinct 3570 in Tarrant County, and I was proud to be there to help him. He was organized to a fault, and really went above and beyond the call of duty several times during the course of a very long day. If you folks don’t realize it yet, the heart and soul of the election process are the volunteers like Matt. They make it all happen, and that should be a lesson to all of us. I worried that Matt was going to have a coronary a few times during the day, but he pulled through. Though I haven’t heard from him today, strangely enough. I’ll start checking hospitals tomorrow if my cell phone does not ring. He is probably still getting well-deserved sleep.

It was great to see people standing in line at 6:30 in the morning, waiting for the polls to open. We never had more than 15 minutes between voters, even at the slowest point in the day. We had people who made it in at the last minute.

Matt had the rest of us volunteers ready to roll. We all had a job, and the whole process went amazingly smooth for such a complicated venture. I also have to give props to the other volunteers, who worked their rear ends off all day long. Again, everyone out there should really get involved in the process. It will give one a new perspective on the whole thing, and hopefully give everyone an appreciation of what all goes on behind the scenes. While Washington calls most of the shots, not a thing would happen if it were not for the citizens making sure the polls run correctly.

In our little corner of the world, 565 people cast their ballots. It amounted to about a 76% turnout for the precinct. If you are familiar with the average voter turnout, 76% is well above normal, and probably set some sort of record.

We had people voting for the first time ever in this election. These were not 18-year olds, either. I hope they found the process to be satisfying, and easy. No country in the world makes it any easier for people to cast their ballots. All it takes is a bit of time, and we all owe the country that much, at the very least.

I tried to make the process pleasant for everyone who came in. I thanked everyone who came through, and I did my best to answer any questions the people might have had. From my point of view, it was actually a rewarding and fun experience.

It was a long experience, I’ll say that. Readers to this blog probably have noticed my posts don’t go on until fairly late at night. I tend to be a night owl, and most of my school papers got written sometime after midnight. Early morning is not a happy time for me. I am constantly amazed there is even air outside at 6:00am, much less people running around and doing things. Even getting up to play golf early is difficult, and there is not much that gets me going more than golf.

At any rate, volunteering for the election was a lot of fun. I hope more people get involved, and I hope I get to participate again. I also hope Matt survived, and decides to come back and do it all again. Please check the cardiac ICU nearest you, and let me know if he’s there.

Monday, November 01, 2004

No Politics Tonight--Dr's Orders

To avoid pre-election jitters, I will write about something that most of you could care less about. I just do not have the strength to get into politics tonight. As noted, I will be all day dealing with this issue tomorrow. So I give you a description of Phoebe, the tiny tyrant of the household.

I mentioned in an earlier post that most of the household lives in fear of Phoebe, the female sugar glider that permits us to live in the same house with her.

Why would a household fear a creature less than a foot long, weighing about as much as a full box of matches?

It is simply because she is the Napoleon of the house. Small, but big ambition. We all know she would rule the world if given the chance.

It's a good thing God didn't make her any bigger. With her sharp claws, and the ability to glide long distances, she would make a tremendous killing machine. If she was about 50 times larger, that is.

I usually let the gliders out to play late at night. Wicket flees to the top of the closet, where he prays Phoebe will not find him. Phoebe spends her evenings running around the room, trying to find something new to eat. So far, she's eaten Kleenex, a Whitesnake cassette (yes, the good one), part of a sock, and part of a cardboard box.

She's crafty, as well. She loves to explore the house, and I usually don't let her. That's because she is tiny enough to hide almost anywhere, and smart enough to know when she is being looked for. She has been out of her room just enough to know there are neat places out there, and she plots to get out.

Sometimes I have to leave the room. I have to make sure she is away from the door so I can make a quick exit. When I come back, she usually hides behind the door. She tries to circle me and run out before I catch her. Sometimes I win, sometimes she does.

When she doesn't make her escape, she's a bit ill-tempered about it. Usually, she will go sulk in a corner for awhile. When I least expect it, she will circle around behind me and bite me. Then she will run for cover. She does the same thing if I take something away from her that she should not have.

I have also caught her trying to open the cage door where they spend most of their time. She recognizes the concept of a door, but lacks the physical strength to get it open. Thank goodness. I worry she might eat us in our sleep if she got loose.

Like most women, she manipulates men's affections to get her way. Sometimes she will curl up on my shoulder and take naps, or other little endearing things to put me off guard. She barks for attention if she feels neglected, and runs to me when something scares her.

Just when I think she is being entirely too cute for words, she will pounce on my keyboard as I type. She has managed to erase two blog entries so far. They were good ones, too.

At any rate; Phoebe will undoubtedly star in more blog entries, whenever I tire of current events as I did tonight.

I must get to bed. Tomorrow is going to be long day, and I have to face it with at least 5 hours' sleep.

Let's hope and pray it turns out a Bush victory. Let's keep praying, and those of you who haven't, go vote.

Put Me Out Of My Misery

I like to avoid uncomfortable situations. Yet here I am in the middle of one, yet again. Doing something important is not always easy, or comfortable. That is one of the biggest lessons that has been impressed on me in the last 10 years or so.

In 2000, I made a vow that I would retreat to a remote mountain in Tibet for the 2004 election. I would come back some time around Christmas. God willing, the whole election thing would be sorted out by then.

2000 was miserable. I sat awake until about 2:30am, watching the various news channels. I saw Comrade Dan Rather throw Florida to Gore, even though it was not quite the way he called it. I saw Tim Russert look like someone kicked him in the nether regions every time a state went red for Bush.

I decided my health could not take it again. I declared that I would vote early, and then seclude myself until well after the election was settled.

It’s not happening.

I volunteered to be an election judge. Well, an alternate election judge, actually. Election judge just sounds better. This means that I will be smack dab in the middle of the whole election mess, all day long.

Isn’t there a circle of Hell that meets that description?

I actually didn’t volunteer; I just ratified my volunteer-status after a friend went ahead and submitted me for his alternate election judge. There will be favors called in at a later date. Big favors. Such as helping bury bodies. Or no-interest loans. Or something like that.

At any rate, I figured that it was my civic duty to get involved in some small way. Helping to run the polls is pretty darned important. Especially since the Democrats seem to be hell-bent on stealing the election through phony voter intimidation, provisional balloting, and other assorted legal nightmares. I want to do my part to make sure at least my precinct is fair.

In other words, I will do everything possible to ensure that everyone who is supposed to vote in my precinct gets to vote. Even if they are so miserably stupid that they vote for Kerry, I will do whatever is necessary to make sure their vote gets counted. This will be the best run precinct in Tarrant County, if I have my way.

However, I am still scared. This is all out of my hands, but I cannot help but feel a sense of impending doom. If Bush loses, this is going to be very hard for me. I am so convinced that the Democratic party is socialism reborn that I am actually physically ill at the thought of Kerry winning.

I am also scared because I realize that at least 50% of this country believes in the Democrats’ agenda. This scares me. Badly. There are people who actually want a socialist lifestyle, and they get to vote in this country.

To me, the choice is clear. I cannot fathom anyone seeing it any differently. My view of the world as black and white pretty much puts the Democrats in the black column. Do people actually want higher taxes? Do they want more government intervention in their lives? Do they want their goods and services to go up in price because of lawsuits? Do they want someone who believes that abortion is not an evil thing? Do they want to lose the Second Amendment? Do they want our security governed by a “global test?” I’m starting my own business. I do not want a tax and spend Democrat in office. Ever.

If the answer to all that is yes, I really do not want to be associated with people like that. I cannot consider a Democrat a friend anymore. They stand for things that I think are pure evil.

That’s why this election is going to be hard for me. The tension is almost unbearable. I know life will go on if the worst happens. I am just worried that it will be a much poorer life if Kerry wins.

Yet here I am, smack dab in the middle of it all. I guess I owe it to the country to do a little something to help out. Even if I do not like the result, I need to do my part to make sure the process is protected. This is bigger than me, and my fears.