Friday, July 31, 2020

Save Space Camp!

I attended Space Camp in 1985, back before a lot of people knew it existed. (This was before the terrible, horrible movie of the same name made it a national name.) It was an amazing and formative experience for me, and not just because I won the Outstanding Camper award for the week I was there [/humblebrag], but also because it took my interest in space exploration and made it feel real and a possible career choice. 

(Ah, if only I had been better at math, I could have been a scientist. Or if my vision had been better, I could have been a pilot. Still, I think every kid wants to be an astronaut when they're little, and precious few of us make it.)

Unfortunately, Space Camp is in severe financial difficulties due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic; nobody wants to go to camp and risk getting sick. As a result, they've lost 66% of their revenue and may close if they do not get funding. To that end, they've started a GoFundMe:
Space Camp has been on a mission for 38 years to educate and inspire students from all over the world about space and science, but now we need mission support.

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, we have seen a dramatic reduction in attendance at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center museum and Space Camp, leading to a significant decrease in revenue and operating capital. We reopened Space Camp after a four months closure but at greatly reduced number this summer. With limited admission from international students and school groups this fall and winter, we’re forced to close our weeklong camp programs again until April 2021. These ongoing challenges have meant a devastating loss of two-thirds of our revenue.

At this time, we have exhausted all funding possibilities, and without your support the U.S Space & Rocket Center and Space Camp will have to close in October. However, we firmly believe that failure is not an option, so we are turning to you. We need the support of our fellow science enthusiasts, Space Camp alumni and anyone who believes in the spirit of exploration to help all systems return to go.

Will you chip in today and help us raise $1.5 million? This will support us through the winter and allow us time to plan for a future filled with Space Camp and scientific discovery.  We have to save Space Camp, and we know that together we can reach mission accomplished. 
Please donate if you can, and share this campaign if you can't. This is an experience that all children should have -- the future of the human race is in space!

Monday, July 27, 2020

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 111: Wait, Erin Can DO that??

In This Episode
  • We discuss the Chipotle parking lot incident in Orion, Michigan;
  • Xander brings us some Independent Thoughts on suppressors and those who want them restricted;
  • David talks about techniques for weak-side shooting;
  • and Oddball talks about heat stress when it comes to shooting outside in the heat, or just generally getting too hot.

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Show Notes

Friday, July 24, 2020

Rights are for everyone, even those you despise.

“The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.” ― H.L. Mencken
I really wish people would stop making me defend the McCloskeys. Based on everything I’ve read about them, they are awful people who sue their neighbors, occupy land and then file squatter’s rights to claim it legally, and they are possibly anti-queer. The husband, Mark, definitely sued his father and sister over a land deed. These are not the kind of people I like, much less want to defend, but like everyone else in this country they are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Unfortunately, there are many people who take issue with that.

The official position of Operation Blazing Sword - Pink Pistols is “In regard to the McCloskeys, we can respect their right to self defense against threats as they perceived them. However, we absolutely condemn their appalling ignorance of, and disregard for, basic firearm safety. As to the whys and wherefores of their case, Operation Blazing Sword - Pink Pistols leaves that in the hands of the St. Louis, MO legal system.” In other words, they might be guilty or they might be innocent, and that’s for the courts to decide. We are happy that no one was killed, and we strongly believe that the McCloskeys really need some proper firearm training. I’m a big proponent of Massad Ayoob’s MAG40 class.

I wish that could be the end of it. I really, truly, wish it were. Unfortunately, it is all too common for me to see on social media calls for vigilante “justice” against the McCloskeys because a trial will take too long or it’s believed they will receive a Not Guilty verdict or even because they’re anti-gay. In other words, “I don’t like them so let’s violate their rights because they’re scumbags.”

However, the problem with the line of reasoning that goes These people are scumbags so it's fine that their rights are being violated is that it neglects to consider that one day you may be considered the scumbag based upon the accusation. I've seen lives destroyed by false accusations of domestic violence, sexual assault, child neglect, etc, and that's with the protection of the legal system and an eventual verdict of not guilty. Without that protection? Well, it's worth pointing out that the purpose of the police isn't to protect the innocent from criminals. That's a nice side-effect to be sure, but it isn't the main point. 

No, the purpose of the police is to end the vendetta -- “You killed my cousin so I'll kill your brother in revenge!” and “You killed my brother so I'll get my revenge by killing your wife!” etc -- by offloading that hate and guilt onto the state. You don't have to kill the man who killed your cousin; you get the state to lock him up after due process proves he did indeed kill your cousin. His family is upset by that because they figure he was in the right and your cousin was in the wrong, but they're just as upset at the state for locking him up as they are at you for pressing charges; you're upset that the man who killed your cousin wasn't put to death, but he's in jail for 20 years which means you have received some sort of revenge for the murder. Everyone is unhappy with the state, and that's fairness of a sort.

The moment that people decide en masse that rights such as “innocent until proven guilty” and “deserves a fair trial with a proper defense” don't apply to people they don't like, and that rule of law is worthless, is the moment that justice becomes “summary trial and execution by an angry mob” and the return of the vendetta cycle. That's something none of us should want because once you throw away the legal protections of others, you eliminate them for yourself as well.

I am reminded of the most memorable scene from the 1966 film A Man For All Seasons:
Roper: So now you’d give the Devil benefit of law?
More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? 
Roper: Yes! I’d cut down every law in England to do that! 
More: Oh? And, when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you – where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws from coast to coast – man’s laws, not God’s – and, if you cut them down – and you’re just the man to do it – d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 110: It's All About Protection

In This Episode
  • Erin and Weer’d discuss some new wrinkles in the McCloskey's legal situation;
  • Xander talks about the pearl-clutching regarding "arsenals" that the rest of us would consider rookie amounts of guns and ammunition;
  • Weer'd brings us Part 2 of his Brady Campaign Anti-gun Gun Owner Fisk, this time with California Representative Mike Thompson;
  • and Oddball talks in-depth about eye and ear protection, and how best to use it on the range.

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Show Notes

Monday, July 13, 2020

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 109: We Must Hang Together Or Surely We Shall Hang Separately

In This Episode
  • Erin and Weer’d discuss some corrections on Ken and Karen in St. Louis,  as well as some recent protests with some groups we didn't think would get along but are glad they did;
  • Weer'd brings us part 1 of a series of fisks of the Brady Campaign's panel discussion of self-loathing gun owners;
  • Xander talks about physical fitness and some simple exercises;
  • and David talks about gun safes for safe storage of your firearms.

Did you know that we have a Patreon? Join now for the low, low cost of $4/month (that’s $1/podcast) and you’ll get to listen to our podcast on Friday instead of Mondays, as well as patron-only content like mag dump episodes and our hilarious blooper reels and film tracks.

Show Notes

Main Topic:

Independent Thoughts:

Weer’d Audio Fisk:

Gun Lovers and Other Strangers:

Friday, July 10, 2020

Closet Catastrophe

Four weeks ago, right as I was about to start packing to attend ConFinement, this happened:

I'm glad it happened during daylight hours instead of while I was sleeping, because that would have scared the everliving crap out me. There was a terribly thundering crash and then the doors of my closet bulged as they threatened to vomit its contents into my room.

I had a picture of the cleaned-out closet here, but I can't find it. The short version is that I had put too much weight on it, the hardware failed, the screws holding it place ripped out of the drywall, and it all crashed down.

The reason for the failure is, I am certain, these things:

And the reason I say that is because these were predominantly on the side where the shelf failed, and I can tell where it failed because the brackets holding it up sheared off and/or were fully pulled from the wall, whereas the side opposite it just failed sympathetically.

It's my belief that these items concentrated the weight of the clothing in specific points rather than spreading that weight evenly across the surface of the rack, and that's what caused the collapse.

A month later, I have a repaired shelf/clothes rack/thing, an empty closet, and the joy involved of unpacking all the contents of the closet which I packed up to empty it, all while trying not to overload this new shelf. the mounting points are in new places, and the handyman even took pains to mount it to all the wall studs he could find.

Moral of the story:  If you have flimsy hardware like this, don't use hangars like that.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 108: Ken & Karen Say, "Get Off My Lawn"

In This Episode
  • Erin and Weer’d discuss the couple who defended their mansion against trespassing protesters,  as well as some deadly violence in other protests;
  • Xander returns with another segment of Independent Thoughts, this time talking about the steps he took in getting his first handgun;
  • Weer'd brings us a fisk of former Bloomberg employee and now US Representative Lucy McBath;
  • and Steve tells us another story of somebody unhappy about being watched... but this time, they expressed their displeasure a little more forcefully.

Did you know that we have a Patreon? Join now for the low, low cost of $4/month (that’s $1/podcast) and you’ll get to listen to our podcast on Friday instead of Mondays, as well as patron-only content like mag dump episodes and our hilarious blooper reels and film tracks.

Show Notes

Main Topic:

Weer’d Audio Fisk:

Tales From the Trunk:

The Fine Print

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