Thebastidge: 06/01/2007 - 07/01/2007
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    Monday, June 25, 2007

    Catching up

    Not too much going on lately. Made the switch to night shift reasonably easily.

    Overheard today at the chow hall, Army chicks giggling about all the "mincing fairies" in the DoS. The whole conversation made me laugh- the difference in culture between the DoS and DoD is night and day.

    My ex-room mate, the cop made known to me his personal temperature estimation: when your eyeballs start to feel hot, back in your eye sockets like eggs boiling, you're somewhat over 115 degrees. I noted that this is true.

    HAd a great conversation with some of my Iraqi co-workers last night. Very educated guys, opining that what Iraq needs is a strong, ruthless leader. It was a wide ranging talk, but that's the gist of it. People here are ignorant and easily led astray by Iranian influences that they follow just because they're Shia, not realizing that they are shills for Iranian fronts. Most people are uneducated- flatly contradicting what the left told us before the war about Iraq being a well-educated secular state. My guys here say that maybe 30 percent of the people have an average education - completed high school and some college. Another 30 percent or more can't even read, which bears out some of my observations in the field last year. That's not something that started with the war, or even with the first Gulf War. Many of these 70 percent on the ignorant end have no idea what democracy even means, much less th subtler aspects of personal responsibility that go along with the rights of free people.

    They kept saying "democracy is a beautiful word" but means nothing to most Iraqis.

    Thankfully, a large portion, probably the majority of my people still remember that freedom is not all about entitlements.

    They asked me what would happen if 80% of the people in an area of the US started looting and stealing and rioting. I had to reply that it's hard to say, because even in the most violent of times we've had in the US, nothing approaching that percentage have ever been lawless. We agreed that there is a big difference between a place where people have trust; in society, in each other, in themselves, and a place like Iraq where no one trusts anyone else.

    I'm thankful that my people don't have to learn this lesson first hand, though I do wish more would pay attention to the lesson in general.

    Tag: Patriot's Journey (with JimK, Scott, Lil, Doug, Moorewatch and our fearless leader Drumwaster)

    Thursday, June 21, 2007

    Quiet conversation

    Wednesday, June 20, 2007

    Night shift

    Yes, for the next month or so I will actually be on roughly the same schedule as folks back home.

    I'm trying to stay awake tonight as late as possible, sleep as much during the day tomorrow, so I can get on schedule for overnights.

    Fat America- I'm not so worried

    It seems the last few years, everyone has become obsessed with diet and obesity trends. I was over reading at Inessential Musings among some other things today.

    It's undeniable that we, America specifically, Europe too, and increasingly the better parts of the rest of the world, are getting heavier. What I would argue is that it's not always such a bad thing. At worst, it is not a disaster. Yes, there are some fat bastards out there ruining themselves. But not as many as some would have us believe, and some of the so-called experts are actively harming us with their obsession with standardized categories.

    I myself, am a few pounds overweight. Probably about 20. I'm six feet tall, and I weigh 235 pounds. That puts my BMI at about 32, which is supposedly 'obese'. Taking away the negative feelings associated with the word, that means I am supposedly at risk for health problems associated with being overweight- to name just a few, diabetes, back and joint problems, heart disease etc.

    On the other hand, the last time I had a body fat estimation (I won't call it a measurement), I was about 19%. (I think this was about 4 years ago.) My weight has not changed drastically since then, I was about 225 then, so call it 21% now just to err on the side of caution. That puts me in the "acceptable" (but not "athletic"), before even considering that I am in my mid-thirties. More than a couple generations ago, I would most likely be considered a 'grandfatherly' age by now- though it pains me a bit to admit that.

    Why do I bring all this up? It's not because I am proud of my fitness- on the contrary, if anything I berate myself to get in better shape. But I do feel a little ridiculous looking at myself in the mirror and labelling it 'obese'. I still have something of the delta shape to my upper body, even with (I want to say 'incipient' but it would not be true) love handles.

    I reached my full growth as a large-framed man in my mid twenties, after being a VERY skinny little kid. Something of a runt, actually. At that point (about 24 or so) I came close to 200 pounds, with body fat in the low teens- probably around 13-16%. That would be a BMI of 27, on the upper end of the "overweight" category, while at a body fat percentage not far from the professional athlete category (not that I was ever that "athletic" per se, simply muscular and in good shape from hard physical work). I returned home from overseas at the age of 27 at a weight of 195 pounds, and was pronounced "emaciated-looking" by relatives who hadn't seen me since I was a kid- that is what my adult frame looks like at that weight. It's true I had not been eating much due to budgetary constraints, and I almost immediately shot up to a more healthy (for me) 210. I wear XL or 2XL shirts (depending upon brand) to have looseness in the shoulders and arms, not to hide my gut.

    There's just too much variation in the human form, too much ideology, and not enough science to put much stock in popular 'obesity' studies and most especially, policy prescriptions. Even the 'food pyramid' you all learned in public school is not such a great idea, running by relatively unchallenged but without a lot of facts to back it up.

    So America: enjoy your food, eat heartily and healthily, get some exercise, and feel good about yourself. Rate your health on how you feel- do you have energy, is it a strain to bend over and tie your shoes? Don't worry about looking skinny, it's just not that important. If you're fat- you know what to do. Eat less. Exercise more. Incrementally, because no fad or supplement is going to be able to overcome your bad habits. Only good habits will do it.

    If good habits, consistently applied with honest self-assessment do not work, then you have a medical problem you need to see a doctor about. But that's not the majority of us. Lying to ourselves on either side of this issue (about being fat or not, whose fault it is) is not a good habit.

    Peripherally related to the good habits: Food Security

    Tag: Patriot's Journey (with JimK, Scott, Lil, Doug, Moorewatch and our fearless leader Drumwaster)

    Tuesday, June 19, 2007


    It sucks when hot women use sex as a political weapon.

    Fortunately, I am not a Republican. :)

    Sadly, I'm probably close enoug that it counts. :(

    Food security

    Lyse has a post up, a righteous rant that I found myself nodding along to. Mostly.

    She says, (regarding some assistance programs):
    "considering the cost difference between wholesome and healthy food staples and cheap junk food, it has to make a huge difference in dietary options."

    No! No! No!

    Healthy food is NOT more expensive than junk food. It is more time-consuming. Even if the flashier types of real food are a bit expensive (steak vs stew meat) you can prepare healthful and filling meals cheaper than you can eat junk food and overly-processed crap. It won't always be "certified organic", and it won't always be something you want to have a candlelight dinner over, but certainly healthy and better than the majority of humanity for the greater part of history including most of the world right now. Fresh fruit costs far less per pound than potato chips. Instant rice costs more per pound than healthier regular rice. Instant noodles in individual servings cost more than bulk pasta which can be made in any size serving, including individual.

    While I think vegetarianism is stupid and unhealthy, you can be perfectly healthy on a bit of meat and get the rest of your protein from beans, for example. At less than a dollar per pound for dry beans, money goes a LONG way. It doesn't have to be plain beans either, but it does require a little imagination, a little time, and a little self-investment in learning how to cook.

    While I'm not opposed to these programs (I have had MORE than my air share of gubmint cheese sammiches growing up, thank you very much), I definitely see them as something which should be limited in duration, and not seen as a "paycheck". Pay is something you earn through exchange of labour or goods. What you get from an assistance program is CHARITY. It's not shameful to need assistance now and then. It's just shameful to use it more than necessary, without gratitude. I think she and I are on the same track here.

    Food security in this country is NOT a problem of wealth or poverty, hasn't been since the Great Depression, but of impulse control and future vs present time orientation. You have to plan your meals more than 5 minutes in advance, but at least you don't have to lie in wait for it all day, then run it down and fight with it before you get to eat it (though I don't really mind that part sometimes), or range your territory trying to find something to dig up or climb trees to eat.

    Tag: Patriot's Journey (with JimK, Scott, Lil, Doug, Moorewatch and our fearless leader Drumwaster)

    Monday, June 18, 2007

    Sometimes you forget

    Sometimes you forget that the guys here aren't very well educated, especially the ones who speak English pretty well. You see these guys, and they're obviously intelligent, but they sometimes don't know the things you would naturally assume they would.

    Disregarding the language barrier, which can be gotten around amazingly well with pantomime quite often, their basic knowledge of the world outside their immediate experience is woefully lacking.

    For example today we were lamenting the heat (actually, the Iraqi guys were. I'm actively trying not to complain about it too much.) As often does, the topic turned to my home, which is just barely north of the 45th Parallel. This concept took a little show and tell to communicate, but was basically communicable with little problem.

    But the basic idea of climate differing by latitude seemed not to make much sense. This is something that is a basic education issue in the Western world, but isn't apparently mentioned in the Koran (the perfect book, and the source of all necessary knowledge, for some.)

    Notwhithstanding all the caveats on how many people still believe in fallacies and superstition, and can't predict basic physical principles in action, there is definitely something to be said for our Western worldview that encourages curiosity and cause-and-effect thinking. Western education may be on the decline, but it still handily beats most of the alternatives.

    Tag: Patriot's Journey (with JimK, Scott, Lil, Doug, Moorewatch and our fearless leader Drumwaster)

    Saturday, June 16, 2007

    Linguist-geek trivia

    It's funny to me how English has absorbed so many words into it, that we can't tell where English starts and stops any more.

    This is not to say that we shouldn't strive to have a common language in our country, but that, like any cultural component, we pick and choose what to add because it makes our life better and easier, and more interesting.

    I think of rural people in the NW saying "just a skosh" from the Japanese word "sukoshi", meaning a little. I think of Starbucks faux-Italian drink sizes. I think of all the Indian words and placenames in the Americas. I think of GW Bush's little joke that the French don't have a word for 'entrepreneur'.

    Keep you ears open for it for the next few days, and appreciate the influence of those cultures on ours- the one that is able to encompass and integrate the best fo what we find.

    Tag: Patriot's Journey (with JimK, Scott, Lil, Doug, Moorewatch and our fearless leader Drumwaster)


    The Original Valkyries were not so pretty, but over time, the conception of them changed more into what this later model is like.

    She's not 6 feet tall yet, but then she's only 14, and she will be a heartbreaking goddess when she's a little older.

    Thursday, June 14, 2007

    Quick turn-around, thanks!

    One does appreciate a speedy, individualized response:

    Dear Bastidge,

    Thank you for your correspondence and suggestions on changing the RCWs to waive the registration and renewal fees for members of the armed services. Currently there is no similar legislation in the works. I have forwarded your e-mail to Representative Lantz, the Chair of the Judiciary Committee, for her consideration. Legislation addressing your suggestions would come out of the Judiciary Committee.

    A similar type bill was introduced in the 2007 Legislative Session. HB 1126 would have waived the $10 late fee for concealed pistol license renewals for armed forces personnel who are serving outside the state when their license expired. It passed out of the House unanimously. It passed out of committee in the Senate but never received a vote.

    Thank you for contacting me with your ideas. Our system of democracy works because concerned citizens like you take the time to participate.


    Bill Fromhold
    State Representative
    49th Legislative District
    Phone: 360.786.7924
    Fax: 360.786.7018

    Our system of participatory government does work. The key term here is 'work'. It doesn't seek you out. People don't necessarily ask for your opinion. If you don't do your reseach, you look like an ignorant A-hole. If you don't bother to learn to spell (or at least use spell-check!), and express yourself clearly, you're marginalized.

    But it if you put some effort, people will take notice. (Even Democrats, sometimes.)No guarantees you'll get what you want, but you'll get a response.

    Tag: Patriot's Journey (with JimK, Scott, Lil, Doug, Moorewatch and our fearless leader Drumwaster)

    The Fred File

    I may just start posting someting on Fred Thompson everyday after my Patriot's Journey post.

    At least here's one for today.

    Welcome back... er Congrats!

    My first inclination was to say, welcome back.

    But I'm no longer wearing a uniform, and most likely never will again. But I went through the same thing back in 1998 after a while out of uniform, and it felt good and wierd at the same time. I do know what it's like. go over there and congratulate him.

    Congratulations, Outdoors Pro. Just remember, no good deed goes unpunished.

    Wednesday, June 13, 2007

    Mention the War

    Todays Patriot's post will simply be a link to a British gentleman's words.

    Thank you very much sir.

    He'll be located on the sidebar from now on.

    h/t to Oregon Guy for the link.

    Tag: Patriot's Journey (with JimK, Scott, Lil, Doug, Moorewatch and our fearless leader Drumwaster)

    Demographic bulges

    There's an interesting article (in English translation) about the effect of sudden shifts in demographics within a population. I found myself nodding along with nearly every point, having it tie in very seamlessly with some other ideas I've encountered over the years.

    This leads me to make a sweeping generalization:

    Young men are the major dynamic force that stirs societies.

    Nearly every other demographic is a force for stability. I'm not saying that this is good or bad, but merely that balance in society can roughly be pictured as young men on one side, and all other demographics on the other.

    Stability can be stagnation, dynamism can be progress- it depends on how it's channeled.

    The tails of the male intelligence bell curve are longer. This means more morons and more geniuses in the male population than females. Morons are likelier (before modern 'safety' societies) to die young before they can cause too much damage. Genius usually blooms early and settles into solidly unimaginative above-average stability later in life.

    The male peaks sexually earlier, and probably more sharply than the female. Ealier because reproduction bears very little cost to the male's homeostatic systems: a few grams of nutrient lost in semen, as opposed to major chemical cycles taking weeks and months (in the case of actual pregnancy) to complete. The effects of testosterone are dramatic increases in aggression and risk-taking behaviour. Risk and profit have a correlation, so good AND bad things happen because of this. Male sexuality has a sharp spike starting early and a long slow decline. This has ramifications for the emotional and intellectual capability of young males to channel this energy productively, where older males are not only accustomed to the influence of testosterone, but it is not as intense as levels decline a bit.

    Other demographics are all forces for stability. Older men don't have the energy levels to effect major changes in the way they interact with society. Older men exert the influence of experience (wisdom) and higher social status over young men, mostly to keep them from becoming animals. When they cannot restrain or re-direct these tendencies, they eliminate the younger men through competition using trickery and guile, such as social maniuplation like sending them off to be eliminated by enemies. This is a typical method being used in Islamic countries at the moment. Some people will always trot out the canard that old men send young men to war, citicizing the US, but in some societies it truly is the only relief valve they have.

    Women are less likely to risk themselves in rebellion against society because they do not experience the same aggressive imperative as men, and their greater involvement in reproduction selects against unstable societies, becoming more conservative as they age. And children settle down both males and females- becoming a father may not tie one down quite as much as becoming a mother, but it's a major influence in a properly socialized male's life.

    There's more eidence. An extremely large percentage of crime is committed by males between the ages of 15 and 24 years old. 57% of arrests as opposed to 18% of the population in 1970, to 41% of crimes and 14% of the general population in 2003. There's a sharp drop-off after this age, to the point that the DoJ only counts the statistics as "25 and above." (and on the lower end as "14 and under.") Very little crime is being commited by those over 40, and these are usually not physically risky crimes of direct aggression.

    Our extended neoteny in modern society probably contributes to extending the tail of this curve on the older side: Idle hands etc. Delaying the expectation that young men will become productive members of society (i.e. work, and marriage, and fatherhood) until later in life gives them less incentive to be a positive force in society. The lack of direct responsibilities leads to further unchanneled energy, which is then turned to seeking status in ways that are not sanctioned by or are even actively harmful to society- sexual promiscuity, aggression, and crime, not to mention that while not being a positive force, they are still consuming society's resources.

    In societies with no directly physically dangerous challenges for young men to undertake with society's approval, they (the young men) will invent physically dangrous challenges: street racing, fighting, drinking contests, fights, sports, territorial gang disputes, you name it. Some middle category exists of risky but not necessarily negative behaviours like scuba diving, parachuting, extreme sports, running with the bulls, and then finally those who are channeled better by culture (as in transmitted values from generation to generation) will become society's "Sheepdogs": firefighters, pilots, police, and military, sports figures (note sports is in both categories- have you followed the criminal careers of sports stars?), etc. These categories overlap a bit- violent and predatory youth can sometimes be subsumed into an organization which channels their aggression to the betterment of society, if discipline can be applied in the right way (which varies by individual). Sometimes they just end up in and out of prison. Sometimes kids who start out on a military or other positive path end up committing a crime and falling off the path.

    Going back to my sweeping generalization: Aging societies tend to be very static. Witness Japan. They had a population explosion and huge decrease in infant mortality after WWII, which led to unprecedented growth much like the baby boomers in America. Both of these groups are now reaching retirement age, and the growth of Japan with low birth rates and effectively zero immigration has slowed to a crawl, while America's higher native birth rates and massive influx of immigration has continued to grow- the dynamism of the young.

    Gunnar Heinsohn seems to be nearly approving of China's difference in only growing 300%-400%, instead of the 7 and 8-fold growth of the Islamic nations. He doesn't go into the draconian governmental policies of birth control they have enacted. Not only is the human rights violation of forced abortion and sterilization appalling, but it has created an even further skewed male/female ratio: with one birth per couple authorized by the government, there has been a huge growth of cases of undocumented births in order to murder girl infants before they count against the limit, or selectively abort females, because the social custom of females going to join the husband's family and males staying to support the parents in old age means a marked preference for male children.

    The problem comes from ratios. It's not population growth or shrinkage per se that is the problem , but the speed with which it happens affects society's ability to absorb the changes, and compensate or correct those trends. The incipient baby boomer retirement surge will mean a large change in the number of workers/non workers in society. I hear some peopl who have decided not to have children claim that they will make enough money that they won't rely on kids to support them; this is a fallacious position because no matter what how many dollars you have in the bank, you will always need someone to do the actual work. Less young people working means higher price of labour. Your savings will avail you nothing if the price of labour rises too much. As Heinsohn mentions, 3rd world labour is not the panacea: you need technical workers who were raised with an understanding of technology- people who grew up with the idea that doctors are scientific people, not someone who shakes a gourd and chants over you while you recover or not. Government welfare programs like Social Security, which has always been a pyramid scheme, are not going to be supportable: the screen hiding the Wizard of Oz is getting more and more transparent. This is another problem that is not solved by importing third world workers: they bring their own old people with them.

    My grandparents, and those of many of my friends had far more children than we do. My grandmother had 7 children. My mother had 5. I don't have any yet, and I'm 35. We're reaching a cliff of population instability that could conceivably (I'm not doom-saying yet!) mean a change in the direction of humanity's progress towards enlightenment and rationality, as the highly educated and more pacifistic first world becomes overwhelmed by the unwashed and increasingly aggressive masses of the third.

    As I've been reading in Thomas Sowell's Race and Culture t wouldn't be the first time the barbarians have conquered a civilized, and more technologically advanced society.

    In related news: Too many Wangs in China

    h/t Ace of Spades for the China story, and
    Kim Dutoit for the link to the
    Gates of Vienna blog.


    Tuesday, June 12, 2007

    Watchdogs on the prowl

    I'm grateful to live in a nation where the government is accountable to the citizens. We have a ways to go, definitely not perfect, but I like that watchdog associations exist that keep us apprised of the activities of our government. These people do us a valuable service.

    just today I have used Vote Smart and Govtrack and Fed Spending. (2 out of 3 are already on my right sidebar.)

    Thanks to all of you.

    Tag: Patriot's Journey (with JimK, Scott, Lil, Doug, Moorewatch and our fearless leader Drumwaster)

    Fred's Records- positions

    Vote Smart has some of Fred Thompson's positions on record from when he was running for the Senate.

    Monday, June 11, 2007

    Do you have this in 2XL?

    It's interesting to note the attitudes of retail sales people in America. Although I have been in places where shopkeepers were more obsequious than ours, America is where I really feel like an average person in an average store really doesn't mind helping me out.

    Sure, there are some slackers, but you can find those anywhere, and it's not an automatic that the girl with the pink hair and facial piercings will be one of them.

    The thing is, an average person working in an average store in America, is almost certainly a customer of that store. Unlike throughout most of history and even much of the world today, the wares that employees sell, are not ordinarily out of their economic reach. Employees.

    This is unusual, historically, unprecedented. Purveyors of fine goods sold to fine people, and their employees shopped in class-appropriate markets.

    Here, Lakeesha may shop at Sandra's store for shoes, and Sandra shops at Valerie's dress shop, and they all get their hair done by Nguyen. They don't provide services for a leisure class, they provide services for each other because specialization creates economic opportunity, but mainly because we are all the leisure class in some degree.

    It's such an obvious and ubiquitous thing, I doubt many of you have even considered it special. In America, people don't mind helping me out, not because I am a better person who has the 'right' to their deference, but because we have a social compact that implicitly includes all of us doing our part to make our society better, not just that some people lead and others follow and the social order is set by god or birth, or even how much money I have.

    Much of Western Europe has now followed us in this trend- I'm happy for them. But it's a much more recent trend and that's NOT merely because their economic recovery after WWII took so much time.

    We have diverged from them in many ways, and class is definitely one of them. It's no accident, that try as they may, Marxist class warriors never made as much inroads here as in other places. The dividing lines here have never been as clear nor even close to as uncrossable here as there. My Fair Lady is a quintessentially European story. We sympathize with the Cinderella story, but that's mainly because we believe it happens all the time, where the concept is a mere fairy tale in other societies. I suspect that to other cultures, this sort of story is more about 'getting over' on the system by cleverly manipulating and fooling people, or simply just being fortunate or fated. We feel vindicated by it, we feel that it proves that our egalitarian principle will out- even over entrenched privilege.

    Bill Gates neither expects, nor receives as much deference as an African ruler with 1% of Gates' wealth. Steve Jobs has no power of life and death over his housemaid or gardener. My economic class has no bearing on my ability to look a man in the eye and judge him according to the content of his character. Including the guy in the mirror.

    Tag: Patriot's Journey (with JimK, Scott, Lil, Doug, Moorewatch and our fearless leader Drumwaster)

    Sunday, June 10, 2007

    Pearls before....people who want diamonds...

    I guess sometimes when you have what you think is a slam-dunk idea, guaranteed to resonate with a certain audience, you're doomed to disappointing responses.

    Over on a coupleLOT of people are already shooting holes in my brainchild. Here I was with visions of a Concealed Carry sign-up drive on military bases back home dancing in my head.

    Ach well, guess you can't win them all...

    The email

    Dear Sir,

    I would like to propose to you a change in the Revised Code of Washington concerning the Concealed Pistol License. Specifically RCW 9.41.070.

    I and many others believe that law abiding and vigilant citizens are the first line of defense against crime and even terrorism. In recent years, the incidence of crime in every jurisdiction which has implemented 'concealed carry' laws in line with our constitutional right (both at the federal and state level) to bear arms have experienced a decrease in violent crime.

    I, and many others, believe that encouraging responsible, law-abiding citizens to take up their duty to themselves and their society by carrying and training with firearms is a worthy goal. As you may know, a vanishingly small percentage of concealed weapons licenses nation-wide have ever been revoked for cause, and CPL holders are overwhelmingly a very law-abiding demographic.

    As the recent court decision in Washington D.C. demonstrates, this common sense measure is increasingly gaining the widespread legal recognition it deserves.

    As a matter of policy, I want Washington State to encourage this trend. To that end, I propose the following changes:

    [Insert proposed changes from previous post here]

    Given the mandated distribution of the fees collected in conjunction with the CPL program, I believe that the State of Washington can easily absorb the cost (I'm estimating approximately $50,000 per year maximum, given the numbers of CPL holders, the percentage of military to general population, and frequency of renewal) in exchange for the increased security of our society.

    Thank you for your time and consideration of this matter,

    Respectfully Submitted,


    Tag: Patriot's Journey (with JimK, Scott, Lil, Doug, Moorewatch and our fearless leader Drumwaster)

    I sometimes have ideas...

    I've been thinking about something- I will be lobbying my State Legislature for this. If you're interested in joining me in this proposal, it's a simple one: Waive the State's fees for Concealed Pistol Licensing for Military and Coast Guard who are otherwise eligible.

    Proposed Amendment to RCW 9.41.070:

    (5) The nonrefundable fee, paid upon application, for the original five-year license shall be thirty-six dollars plus additional charges imposed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation that are passed on to the applicant. No other state or local branch or unit of government may impose any additional charges on the applicant for the issuance of the license.

    Proposed Amendment:
    (5) The nonrefundable fee, paid upon application, for the original five-year license shall be thirty-six dollars plus additional charges imposed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation that are passed on to the applicant. Any person not otherwise ineligible under subsection (1) of this section, notwithstanding a person whose eligibility has been restored under subsection (3), upon presentation of valid identification as a member of the Armed Services or Reserves of the United States, the National Guard of any State, or the United States Coast Guard, shall have such fees waived other than charges imposed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. No other state or local branch or unit of government may impose any additional charges on the applicant for the issuance of the license.

    (6) The nonrefundable fee for the renewal of such license shall be thirty-two dollars. No other branch or unit of government may impose any additional charges on the applicant for the renewal of the license.

    Proposed Amendment:
    (6) The nonrefundable fee for the renewal of such license shall be thirty-two dollars. This fee shall be waived upon presentation of valid identification as a member of the Armed Services or Reserves of the United States, the National Guard of any State, or the United States Coast Guard. No other branch or unit of government may impose any additional charges on the applicant for the renewal of the license.

    If you live in Vancouver (SW Washington) as I do, you'll find the contact information on the right sidebar. If you live elsewhere in WA, you'll just have to be responsible for looking it up yourself. In fact, I need to do some checking to make sure all my links are still accurate.

    It's just a few words, should be easy, right??

    Like anything, it comes with a trade-off. This time in the form of revenue, which is largely dedicated to the maintenance of the CPL program itself by law:

    The fee shall be distributed as follows:

    (a) Fifteen dollars shall be paid to the state general fund;
    (b) Four dollars shall be paid to the agency taking the fingerprints of the person licensed;
    (c) Fourteen dollars shall be paid to the issuing authority for the purpose of enforcing this chapter; and
    (d) Three dollars to the firearms range account in the general fund.

    (6) The nonrefundable fee for the renewal of such license shall be thirty-two dollars. No other branch or unit of government may impose any additional charges on the applicant for the renewal of the license.

    The renewal fee shall be distributed as follows:
    (a) Fifteen dollars shall be paid to the state general fund;
    (b) Fourteen dollars shall be paid to the issuing authority for the purpose of enforcing this chapter; and
    (c) Three dollars to the firearms range account in the general fund.

    (7) The nonrefundable fee for replacement of lost or damaged licenses is ten dollars to be paid to the issuing authority.

    So if some quarter million Washingtonians have Concealed Pistol Licenses, and a representative sample of them are military (under 2%, including active duty, reserves, etc.) then we're looking at roughly 250,000 people x 2% x $34 (splitting difference between new and renewal permits) / 4 (4 year renewal period) = ~$42,500 per year in lost revenue. Might bump that up a few bucks because more military folks might get Concealed Permits if they got a break on the price. Round it up to a nice figure- call it $50 grand a year.

    You'd think the offset to the range fees might be taken up by military folks practicing primarily on State and Federal military firing ranges anyway. I wouldn't change the replacement fee, it encourages people to be careful and conscious.

    But now you would have more people who have already made conscious decisions to be "sheepdogs", making another conscious decision, one step further down that path, that much more conscious of their responsibility to themselves and their duty as citizens.

    Saturday, June 09, 2007

    Relaxing day off

    Today was my one day/week off, and it was very nice.

    The chow hall finally got kimchi on the salad bar line again, I didn't hear the incoming alarm all day, got some reading done, and went to salsa night with my cop buddies.

    This is as good as it gets, folks.

    We've come a long way

    Overheard today at lunch in the Palace DFAC, 3 gentlemen having a discussion about Selective Service and "registering for the draft":

    One, an older gentlemen, slightly too young for Viet Nam, but surely old enough to have it fresh in his mind at the time, told a story to two young Naval officers, the story of his dad driving him down to the recruiter's office, dropping him off, and leaving him there, because he had made some smart-ass teenager type remark about not registering with Selective Service. His old man got pissed off and lectured him about the fines, and jail time etc. Words to the effect of "I'm a grown man and you can't make me do it" were exchanged.

    Anyway, this gentleman, recounting his youth, ruefully admits he registered. Then he started talking about his appreciation for the way things had changed, how if he had it to do over again today, he would have joined the military. Because now there is a culture of respect, professionalism, it's a proud thing to be in uniform. He recounted a bit more from his youth, the attitudes rampant in and about the military back then, while the two young officers just shook their heads in disbelief at the differences he related. It was a nice moment.

    Oh, and all three of them were Afro-Americans.

    Tag: Patriot's Journey (with JimK, Scott, Lil, Doug, Moorewatch and our fearless leader Drumwaster)

    Thursday, June 07, 2007


    I think I have been in (at least traveling through) every state except for Alaska, Hawaii, and Maine. I have found something worth seeing in every one of them. Those where I have spent time, I have met good people in each one of them.

    I have spent considerable time in a few: Oregon, where I was born, Washington, where I have been a resident since the 9th grade (even during those times when I was elsewhere, I've been a resident). I've also lived in California, Texas, Mississippi, Maryland, Utah, and Iowa. I spent a month in MA once, a few days in NJ and NY, a couple weeks in Ohio.

    Where am i going with all this? Nowhere special. But everywhere I have ever been, someone thought it was special, and the vast majority of them would not even consider leaving their home. They believe it to be the plalce place on earth, and will defend it and praise it to you.

    Until I came to Iraq, I had never been anywhere that the majority of people just wish they were somewhere else. I know most of them would rather see their homeland become a place that they could be safe and comfortable again, rather than leave. But many would rather leave for now, if they had somewhere to go.

    So again, no real deep insights, it's just nice to live in a coutnry that does so well by its people as to make them happy and content.

    Tag: Patriot's Journey (with JimK, Scott, Lil, Doug, Moorewatch and our fearless leader Drumwaster)

    Wednesday, June 06, 2007


    Lil pointed out this essay in comments. It is indeed interesting.

    I've actually not read that one until now, but I have seen quite a bit of controversy over Mann's "Hockey Stick" and his failure to publish his methodologies. Anybody who refuses to publish their methodologies immediately forfeits their right to be called a scientist. In any news item about Mann's hockey stick, this should be the prominent fact: he refuses to release all the details of his statistical methodology and his sampling techniques, which is standard scientific practice. They could even contrast it to the business practice of trade secrets to keep a competitive advantage, because there is no competitive advantage in climate science.

    Jerry Pournelle's website also has quite a bit on this stuff, and Dr. Pournelle is not only a fairly smart science fiction writer, he's also a highly educated engineer, so he has a lot of insight into sampling methodologies and the rigorous requirements to publish experiments.

    So, the above was an "appeal to authority" and it's often effective, even though it is a logical fallacy if I were to simply point to another famous person and say "Jerry Pournelle doesn't believe in anthropogenic global warming, so I don't either," but that's not what I'm saying. I'm saying that considerable credible science points to other reasons, enough that it doesn't make sense to start rushing off in the wrong direction. If there were no economic or human cost to the changes the carbon-centric global warming enthusiasts suggest, then I would say go for it. But TAANSTAFL- they haven't proposed anything realistic so far. Even dual-purpose changes that would increase our national security, like nuclear power plants weaning us off of Oil dictatorships like Venezuela make the greenies go all spastic.

    Science is the technique of increasing human ability to predict by falsifying incorrect theories through repeatable demonstration of observable phenomena.

    Policy prescriptions based upon junk scence (like my talk about the Precautionary Principle the other day) are scary.

    Science is not something we take on faith. We don't prove our theories correct, we disprove false theories. Consensus proves nothing- one lone voice can be correct, or they can be a complete nutter- it all depends upon whether or not their observations can be repeated using honest methodology. Manufactured consensus (through bribery, threats, or blackmail, even of the "I'll ruin your reputation" kind) is even worse than the plain ignorant kind.

    Alternative theories of climate change are well on their way to becoming "hate speech" thoughtcrimes. That is a tragedy for everyone.

    Bjorn Lomborg has been character-assasinated for daring to raise questions, even though his suggestions include a lot of common sense and demonstrate a lot more compassion than many greenies- Bjorn doesn't advocate air-borne ebola virus wiping out the majority of the human species with a smirk on his face.

    Tuesday, June 05, 2007

    Thanks, Chuck

    Reader Chuck writes:

    What makes me proud to be an American-- My neighbors paid my son's way through public elementary and high school. He was able to afford to go to college thanks to government loans, and he was able to land a good-paying job and repay them. It was the people who worked at the state employment service who showed me the way to get a job that paid far better than the minimum-wage job I'd been working at for years.

    When John Glenn, WWII ace, first American astronaut to circle the globe and US Senator John Glenn was asked by a reporter what he thought the greatest thing was that America ever had done, Glenn replied, "The school lunch program." The reporter-- thinking Glenn would name winning World War II, the race to the Moon, the American standard of living, and so much more-- was stunned. Glenn explained, "I was impressed that a country could care that much about its children."

    Tag: Patriot's Journey (with JimK, Scott, Lil, Doug, Moorewatch and our fearless leader Drumwaster)

    Monday, June 04, 2007

    Where do rights come from?

    While debating on the thread I mentioned yesterday, some comments there made me want to clarify a point about the American system of governance.

    Our system believes that rights are inherent, not granted by our Constitution or system of governance, which is merely a document conceived of by the limited mind of man, imperfect and historically contextual, and occasionally in need of amendment to acknowledge other independent truths. The Constitution merely acknowledges some of these rights specifically, given their clear importance. It also notes that certain powers are delegated to the government, but only at the consent of the people, which implies that such delegation may be revoked, or that those powers may be used without recourse to the government. For example, our second Amendment addresses an implied right: the right to keep and bear arms only makes sense in light of other rights: to self defence (right to life) liberty (freedom of association, speech, to "dissolve the bonds" of government). Were it not to guarantee these other rights, and the historical record which shows how often and likely they are to be infringed, the @nd Amendment might not be necessary.

    Other rights, like "privacy," are not mentioned specifically, (Freedom from search is peripheral to it, and the 10Th Amendment explicitly notes that other rights not enumerated exist) and are not but it has become clear over time that it is indeed a right, albeit of uncertain scope.

    Also note that while rights are inherent, they are also not absolute. One's rights end where another's take up. Rights can be abdicated or lost through one's own action.

    Tag: Patriot's Journey (with JimK, Scott, Lil, Doug, Moorewatch and our fearless leader Drumwaster)

    Sunday, June 03, 2007

    Centralized Pollution Management

    I think this will be my post for today.

    Tag: Patriot's Journey (with JimK, Scott, Lil, Doug, and our fearless leader Drumwaster)

    Saturday, June 02, 2007


    Another nice thing about America: when you hear thunder, it's just thunder.

    Tag: Patriot's Journey (with JimK, Scott, Lil, Doug, and our fearless leader Drumwaster)

    The Precautionary Principle is crap

    Again, I'm mining yesterday's comments for posting material- thanks! :)

    The "Precautionary Principle" is not scientific.

    A rational approach to risk management assesses the likelihood of the risk, and the potential damage of the risk, and the cost of mitigation. Using these three factors, one decides on a course of action.

    The "Precautionary Principle" would have us do nothing that cannot be absolutely and 100% proven to do no harm whatsoever.

    It is a theoretical impossibliity to prove a negative, so the "precautionary principle" is impossible to achieve, because even doing nothing might potentially cause harm.

    There are entire fields of study devoted to this, and you will not find one professional risk manager who subscribes to this so-called principle.

    The "Precautionary Principle" is most often associated with "junk science" and particularly with the crowd which protests genetically modified organisms (GMO). This is essentially superstition with modern pop culture trappings to disguise it.

    Friday, June 01, 2007

    Ugly Americans

    It's funny how you can pick out nationalities in an International Airport.

    Korean dudes are usually the ones wearing white socks with black shoes and dark slacks (or plaid slacks, lol.) Guys, white socks are for sports. (My Korean friends already know this.) Japanese tourists are famous for their whiz-bang cameras. Brits have a look about them.

    And Americans. Oh, ugly Americans. Just always talking too loudly and overly friendly like bumbling dogs, good natured, but annoying, drooling on the furniture and looking around blankly with a goofy grin.

    Or some would have you believe, anyway. It's true many Americans are rather provincial in their outlook on international travel and lacking the outward facade of sophistication of our European cousins. Yes, some people make a jackass of themselves thinking that speaking louder will help someone understand a foreign language, And yes, some get shrill with disappointed feelings of entitlement when things like laws, regulations, and customs aren't the same as back home.

    But let me tell you what I like about Americans overseas.

    Americans walk proudly wherever we go. This is not arrogance, it is what should be the natural expectation of any human being- the right to go where you wish as long as you aren't bothering anyone else, without having to explain yourself, and only paying reasonable amounts- i.e. not needing to bribe people to do the job they are already being paid for, nor for the "privilege" of doing something that is already legal. It is the expectation that anywhere one might go, that they'll be as safe as they would be on an American street.

    If you think about it, that's quite a statement, with lots of subtle meaning underneath. Americans expect to be safe where ever we go. Why do we expect this? Is it because we're cocky in our technological advantage, or because we think that nothing can affect "the rich"?

    No, it's because America is a safe place, and we grew up safe. It's a habit with us to be only marginally concerned about their own safety.

    This is a truly extraordinary thing. It does prove that Americans need to know more about the world, but also shows that we expect better of people around the world, than those people typically expect of themselves.

    It's an optimistic outlook.

    Americans are shocked and surprised by bribery. One does not ask for a bribe from strangers in America. Chummy relationships with kickbacks and extortion do exist, of course. But the cop on the street doesn't ask for bribes from a speeder, nor does the speeder typically expect to be able to bribe their way out of a ticket.

    They may try to weasel out with excuses, but that's more of a game than anything else.

    Compare this to other countries, even "civilized" Europe.

    Americans are friendly. We will chat with strangers in airports with the expectation that the stranger will be polite and agreeable. We will ask things and tell things that are considered brash and gauche by many culture's standards, because we don't expect to need to hide things, or worry about a lot of social condemnation, or to present an aspect of world-weary cynicism to show our sophistication. We expect to be judged upon the content of our character, the logic of our expressed thought, and our actions, more than upon our mannerisms or family connections.

    We expect that even if one has antipathy towards another race, it is rude to demonstrate it, and rudeness reflects more poorly upon the source than the target.

    Americans are willing to show their childlike delight with cool architecture, and gizmos that go fast, or far, or do neat tricks. Americans appreciate the efforts of others- for a short time until something new comes along. We have no problem expressing that appreciation verbally, easily, and often. Then we move on, because it's not a static world.

    I like these qualities about my compatriots.

    Tag: Patriot's Journey (with JimK, Scott, Lil, Doug, and our fearless leader Drumwaster)

    Jumaa round-up

    Ah, the naiveté of new guys: it's so cute. Within my first few Blackhawk rides over Baghdad, I experienced a flare popping from the automated defense systems, and nearly crapped my pants- flash, bang, and then a little piece of chaff blew back in and landed on my arm.

    I jumped as far as my seat restraints over body armor would let me, and my co-workers happened to be looking right at me when it happened. I caught some razzing for that one. But it's all in good fun.

    Today, I'm walking back from the chow hall when a Marine SSgt makes a comment about how this place needs some rain, because everything's covered in dust. I snorted a little bit and commented that it would just leave mud all over everything, expecting agreement. One of the things everyone notes who has been here very long at all, is that the rains oddly don't wash things clean. It always leaves behind a speckled droplet pattern of dust on top of everything. In fact, my bicycle seat, wiped clean through use, will have dust on it after a rain that just wasn't there before.

    So when he said, "At least when the mud dried everything would be clean." I opened my mouth to explain, then just shook my head and walked on. He'll see.

    We've had some folks in trying to tie into our network the last couple days. You would think that in this day and social climate, the first thing someone says when they pop their head in the door, would not be "Whew, it's good to see humans again. I'm so tired of these camel jockeys." we all just looked at each other with a "WTF?" look and when we were alone, discussed it (since this person could be said to be a customer in a way) with our boss.

    Then in subsequent conversation, after commenting about how nice our facilities were, the question was posed:

    Person: "How do you keep the camel jockeys from messing it all up?"
    Boss: Excuse me?
    Person: repeats
    Boss: "Excuse me?" in louder and more incredulous tone
    person: repeats one more time, either completely oblivous or deliberately offensive.
    Boss: "We talk nicely to them."

    To the credit of the group, the one who said that stuff seems to be an embarrassment and a mill stone around their necks to the rest. She has been wasting our time and theirs with trivial bullshit as well.

    While I will not make any claims to being overly politically correct, and I find much to criticize about the culture and society here, talking about an entire race of people as if they are not even human doesn't sit well with me or any of my friends and co-workers here. We have a lot of respect for some of our individual Iraqi counterparts and co-workers, and immense sympathy for their people and the plight they have suffered under Saddam and continue to suffer due to the fanaticism and death cult mentality of the minority.

    The laundry debacle continues. Water rationing has kept the self-service laundries all over the compound closed for the majority of the time. I was lucky to get the one load done. The DFAC has apparently received new convoys though, so the palace chow hall is once again, the place for fine dining.

    I learned some new stuff at work this week, which is always good. Watched "Letters from Iwo Jima" last night, and man- that is an excellent flick. I will be buying that to watch again, the real version, not from the Hajji shop. I want to see the extras and commentary- something I almost never do. When I watch a movie like that, I sometimes get caught up in listening to the dialogue over reading the subtitles, even though my Japanese isn't really good enough to catch more than a bit of it- maybe 20%. I haven't seen "Flags of our fathers," but if it's half as good, then it's well worth watching as well.