I’ve used Zazzle for a number of years for custom printing and have been very satisfied with their products. A few years ago I ordered some stuff from Cafe Press and was very disappointed but I’d heard that they’d upgraded their quality recently, so I ordered some new Ron Paul stuff from them a few weeks ago. It’s still complete junk. The bumper stickers were probably make from a Q=10 JPEG, the image is so bad and the sticker is quite thin. The ‘large’ coffee mug is average-sized, and the printing has fuzzy edges. The license plate frame is ‘printed’ with stickers, which aren’t put on straight. If you have unique material to print, please use Zazzle or another high quality vendor.

Gun Crime Statistics

Citizens lobbying for a shall-issue law in Maryland have an interesting page with statistics on it. Here’s a choice one:

In Florida, where 315,000 permits have been issued, there are only five known instances of violent gun crime by a person with a permit. This makes a permit-holding Floridian the cream of the crop of law-abiding citizens, 840 times less likely to commit a violent firearm crime than a randomly selected Floridian without a permit.

Several other states have a 0% rate.

I also ran down the numbers for a conversation I had about the general number of violent gun crimes in the US.

According to gun-control groups, the death rate in the US attributable to guns is 10/100,000. Of that, the homicide rate is 38%. Of homicides, those attributable to non-relations/friends (random criminals) is 41%. If you multiply that all together, the odds of being killed by a stranger with a gun is about 1/25,000. The odds of being killed in a car wreck is 1/18,000. The odds of being killed by lightning is far higher – this is fairly common, as things go.

Progressives are Too Conservative

I stumbled upon an essay today making the case that progressives are really ultra-conservatives in disguise, with a sprinkling of elitism thrown in for good measure:

“Progressives want comfort and certainty. They want to lock things down the way they are. They want to know that such and such job will be there tomorrow and next decade, and will always pay at least X amount. That is why, in the end, progressives are all statists, because, to paraphrase Hayek, only a government with totalitarian powers can bring the order and certainty and control of individual decision-making that they crave.”

While this gets pretty close to the mark, there’s one important additional point to make: trying to design a society effectively requires perfect information, which doesn’t exist. Without it, the law of unintended consequences always applies. Would-be builders of the social utopia would be better off working on limitless energy and non-slave workers rather than trying to cement the status quo through totalitarianism.

Also found on that site was a link to a link to a link of a DVD ISO explaining the philosophy of individual liberty you can burn for your friends.

Nothing is Vegan

Consider the case of non-organic crops. They’re fertilized with petrochemicals and pesticides, which kill insects and some of their up-chain predators. And petrochemicals may be dinosaurs, right?

Now consider organic crops. They’re all fertilized with manure. The manure comes from animals which are bred, and usually the males of those breedings aren’t kept around – they go off to make meat goods. Without this outlet, there would be too many aggressive males around and the manure production chain wouldn’t work. Additionally, most organic gardeners still engage in pest control. While all-natural in ingredients or methods, the pesky insects still lose this battle, even if it’s death-by-bird.

Now consider either of these crops being transported by truck or airplane, and there are going to be bird hits and certainly hundreds or thousands of splattered insects on the big-rig windshield on the way across the country.

So, then, we’re left with basically home-grown crops, which are fertilized only with perhaps leaf-mould, which isn’t going to produce very good crops, or wild-bearing crops, like berries, and then there’s not enough to go around, so that’s unsustainable. Unless you fertilize with human waste, which is rarely legal, and, well, eww.

If the point of vegan is to produce food without killing animals – for all practical purposes, nothing is vegan. Life lives on life, marketing lives on hope.

Length of Tenure of Dartmouth Presidents

With the announcement of President Wright’s retirement, it occured to me that Dartmouth was cycling through presidents pretty quickly. To check that assumption, I grabbed the years in office from Dartmouth’s page on past presidents and made a small chart:

The average length of tenure has been 15 years, which Dartmouth hasn’t achieved in a President since 1960, nor benefited from since 1970. Perhaps constitution for seeing the job through for the long-haul should be one of the criteria for selecting the next president. Reading through the biographies, it appears that Dartmouth does best with Dartmouth men who have had a career in business. Career administrators and members of the faculty don’t seem to last as long, at least in recent history.

A Well-Regulated Militia

I was asked today, How do you define a “well regulated militia”?, in the context of the ACLU insisting that the Second Amendment to the US Constitution applies to the National Guard. How can we really know what the Founders meant? was the gist of the argument.

Fortunately, the Constitution comes with Cliff’s Notes, the Federalist Papers. Here’s what Madison had to say on the issue of the Federal military usurping power from the States (to the people of New York, specifically) in Federalist #46:

Let a regular army, fully equal to the resources of the country, be formed; and let it be entirely at the devotion of the federal government; still it would not be going too far to say, that the State governments, with the people on their side, would be able to repel the danger. The highest number to which, according to the best computation, a standing army can be carried in any country, does not exceed one hundredth part of the whole number of souls; or one twenty-fifth part of the number able to bear arms. This proportion would not yield, in the United States, an army of more than twenty-five or thirty thousand men. To these would be opposed a militia amounting to near half a million of citizens with arms in their hands, officered by men chosen from among themselves, fighting for their common liberties, and united and conducted by governments possessing their affections and confidence.

I’m not sure Madison could have been more clear on what a ‘militia’ meant in 1789, nor what its purpose was. For the Supreme Court or the ACLU to ignore the relevant historical context is simply activism in disguise.

Satisfied by the definition of a militia, having been shown the historical context, the discussion turned to the meaning of ‘well-regulated’. Surely that must mean state-controlled?” the questioner continued.

Again, historical context is crucial, as meanings can change over time. In 1789, ‘well-regulated’ referred to something that was properly functioning, such as a well-regulated clock that kept good time, a well-regulated harpsichord in proper tune, or a well-regulated mind, which was a sound one. In context, a well-regulated militia is one that can do its job of defending the citizenry from an oppressive government. So, remember to support your local shooting range, as ensuring that you have this right ensures it’ll never need to be used.