quote of the day – h. beam piper

For words written in 1963, they surely do resonate poignantly today:

You were there; you saw what’s happening. The barbarians are rising; they have a leader, and they’re uniting. Every society rests on a barbarian base. The people who don’t understand civilization, and wouldn’t like it if they did. The hitchhikers. The people who create nothing, and who don’t appreciate what others have created for them, and who think civilization is something that just exists and that all they need to do is enjoy what they can understand of it—luxuries, a high living standard, and easy work for high pay. Responsibilities? Phooey! What do they have a government for?

Tell me the situation Mr. Piper describes above is not happening around us right now. Oh, sure, the hitchhikers – or looters, to use another terminology – do not have one, single, individual leader, aside from Our Glorious President himself, but the rest of it… tell me that is not what you see going on around the edges right now? Crap on a crutch; there is a distressingly non-zero percentage of people in "modern" society who do not understand, at all, how the water in their sink came to be there, and all of the necessary steps, technology, and technicians necessary for it to arrive… but you can bet your bottom dollar that if it were to ever stop arriving, they would be up in arms, demanding that Someone Fix It. Those people may not be barbarians in the wearing-fur-skins-and-beating-down-the-gates, traditional sense of the word, but how long do you think it would take them to reach that level if the lights really were to go out?

I need to stop reading old-school science fiction. The prognostication abilities of these writers is a bit too uncanny for the engineer in me to accept.

i sweated a lot to bring you this situational irony

To get to Mount Le Conte Lodge – the establishment we recently spent the night at – one must first traverse somewhere between 5 and 8 miles of single-track trails through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As with all National Parks, the trails and area are remarkably separated from the rest of the world, to the point where you are much farther from civilization than the "as the crow flies" distances would indicate, and, as such, you have to prepare and pack accordingly.

A lot of those preparations are little things – bringing enough water, wearing the right kind of shoes, having the right backpack, etc. – but the honest truth is that if you get hurt back up in those trails, the only way you are getting back to someone who can really help you is probably under your own power, so, basically, do not get hurt. Even up at the Lodge itself, major injuries have to be taken down the path by horse, and even that is a multi-hour evolution; their supplies may come by heli-drop, but the bird does not actually land, so it cannot really take on an injured patient. Most causes of injuries are largely the product of hikers making mistakes in some particular fashion, but trail injuries are not always something you personally can control.

Sadly, the Smoky Mountains have the distinction of being the home of the first fatal bear attack in a southeastern National Park (Glenda Ann Bradley was killed by a black bear in 2000), and since then, the increasingly-acclimatized-to-humans black bears populating the park have racked up an unfortunate number of attacks on people. On the one hand, these attacks are a direct byproduct of people constantly trying to get closer to bears to get pictures, leaving garbage and food where bears can find and eat it and then get used to the smells of humans, and other long-term patterns that erode at the animals’ instincts to stay away from us whacky bipedal creatures; but, on the other hand, in some/most of the bear attack cases, the people specifically injured were not the ones causing issues.

By the same token, bobcats and/or cougars are not unheard-of in the Smokies, and as my time in San Diego taught me, they are not above picking off lone hikers/joggers for the occasional snack.

And despite being an invasive species and multiple attempts at eradicating them, wild boar also call the Smokies home, and if there is one creature I would not want to meet on a narrow, dark path…

Do not think I am trying to put you off visiting the Smokies (though damn they are getting crowded, and we visited during the "shoulder" season in the middle of the work week), but just as a single misstep on the trail can put you in the hospital (once you manage to drag yourself down the mountain), being unaware of other natural hazards can be just as dangerous to your health.

And this is all without even addressing the very real possibility of two-legged predators in National Parks, what with Park Rangers offering rewards for information on "drug activity" and the possibility of stumbling across a marijuana farm and… receiving a less than warm welcome. Even the FBI is getting involved in murders in National Parks, which is not surprising with apparent booby-traps being strung up on trails. (Note: not all those events transpired in the Smokies.)

While happily naive folks continue to believe that National Parks are the very picture of safe, secure communing with Nature, the honest truth is that criminals do not give an acorn for arbitrary, invisible lines on the ground, and some of them actually prefer privacy to perpetrate their illegal activities.

So all this said, you can bet your arse I was lawfully carrying a firearm in the Smoky Mountains, and openly at that*. I somehow managed not to poach any of the Ninja Red Squirrels at Alum Cave, and none of the hikers we passed probably so much as noticed it, so it was not really a problem… until we got to the top of Mount Le Conte and were confronted with these two signs:


I swear to God, I changed nothing before taking that picture; I did not even "I’m Feeling Lucky" it in Picasa – those two signs were, and still are, posted on the side of the Mount Le Conte Lodge Office, right next to one another.

If there were a desk nearby, I would have laid my head upon it. Forcefully.

Even better (?), the cabins (which, thankfully, were not posted) we stayed in had no means of securing the door without someone inside, but the dining hall also had an identical "gunbuster" sticker. So when it came time for dinner and breakfast, either one of us had to skip a meal, I had to leave my firearm in the cabin unsecured, or I had to break state law and carry my firearm – concealed – past that sign to eat. Apparently my family heirloom was A-ok by the staff, though, since there is not much "concealing" that once I got done peeling off my various coats, which just further goes to show the logical inconsistency inherent in "gun-free zones" victim-disarmament zones – some potential weapons good, other potential weapons bad.

Yes, I most certainly will be writing the management of Mount Le Conte Lodge and politely expressing my displeasure with the fact that they would (1) prefer that their customers break state law, (b) leave an unsecured firearm loose in the presence of strangers, or (iii) abandon their means of self-defense for a 6-12 hour total hike (up and down, depending on how fast you go) through uncontrolled wilderness.

And let us abandon all the political and sociological pretenses wrapped up in the notion of "gun control" – if someone actually dragged themselves up the trail to the Lodge with the express intent of causing malicious harm to the Lodge patrons and/or employees, do you honestly believe that those stupid little signs will stop him? Really?

(* – In other news, I now completely understand the utility of drop-leg holsters. Backpack waist straps and outside-the-waistband holsters do not mix well.)

(** – It is worth noting that the signs do at least cite the correct chapter and verse of Tennessee State Code (which I would link to directly, but LexisNexis is being difficult), though I have no idea why they are citing North Carolina state law, when the Lodge is around five miles from the border.)

the celebration of double standards

I am sure I have written about this in the past, but I continue to be astonished at how anti-rights cultists‘ brains work… or, for the most part, do not work.

For instance, by now, most of my readers are probably aware of the unfortunate case wherein George Zimmerman fatally shot Trayvon Martin; however, are you aware that anti-rights organizations like the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence are actively encouraging vigilante violence against George Zimmerman? Bear in mind that Zimmerman has not even been charged with any unlawful actions yet, but the "gun control" extremists have already convicted him in the court of public opinion, and are now facilitating those who wish to take "justice" into their own hands.

Why? Well, Zimmerman had a license to carry concealed in Florida, and Florida recently passed "stand your ground" legislation, so Ladd Everitt and the rest of the anti-rights cultists see this as a perfect opportunity to do their best to attack both – after all, they ardently believe in the concept of "collective guilt/responsibility", so if Zimmerman turns out to be a murderer, then all Florida CCW holders could be murderers as well, and, likewise, if Zimmerman walks, they will never stop harping on this case as an example of how the "stand your ground" laws allowed him to "murder" Martin. Win-win, in their books.

The important take-away from this, though, is to notice how readily they are focusing on Zimmerman; the anti-rights cultists are accurately saying that his actions are his responsibility, and he should be held accountable for them. They are, admittedly, jumping to conclusions in regard to his guilt, but that is par for the course for them.

On the other hand, consider the average "gun control" extremist’s reaction to an obviously criminal shooting. They waste millions of electrons expounding on how the shooter was "just a good kid", and it was "all just just a misunderstanding", and how this is really the fault of the "evil gun lobby" for "flooding our streets with easily-procurable firearms", and generally trying to absolve the actual criminal of any and all responsibility whatsoever while simultaneously castigating the lawful firearm owners of America.

Noticing the pattern? If there is a firearm-related crime, regardless of who is actually at fault, it is invariably the firearm owners of America who are to blame if you ask the anti-rights cultists; is it any wonder why I have given them that moniker? Every single time, no matter if the person doing the shooting has a criminal record longer than the Constitution or if the person has no criminal record to speak of, if he did something wrong, it is somehow "our" fault.

I do not hold to that. Not only is that position inherently logically inconsistent – if it is the shooter’s responsibility in some cases, it should be the shooter’s responsibility in all cases – but the very notion of "collective guilt" is a myth and a logical fallacy to boot; unfortunately, as the date on that first article shows, it is a very deep-seated myth, but a myth all the same. We are, each of us, individual, adult human beings, and are thus individually responsible for our own individual actions; to punish others for the illegal actions of one would be a base abrogation of the rights and responsibilities of all parties involved, and would severely undermine the very fabric of our civilization.

Disturbing though this attempt at "collective guilt" may be, it does tell us one useful and heartening thing – the "gun control" extremists are getting desperate. After all, if they were honestly on the offensive and in control of the debate, they would not have to keep framing their argument in terms of logical fallacies and presuppositions of guilt without the benefit of trial. Of course, the irony in all of this is that if one of those violent, hateful persons does track down Zimmerman and harm/kill him, by their own tortuous "logic", the CSGV would share responsibility in that illegal and immoral action. Honestly, I do not think that would bother them.

quote of the day – marko kloos

This one goes out to all of the anti-rights cultists and "gun control" extremists out there, courtesy of Major Caudill Marko:

We can argue any or all of the points above for hours, but there’s one thing that, on a philosophical level, you will never be able to make me concede:

That intentionally making yourself weaker in the face of danger and aggression is somehow more civilized, moral, intelligent, or enlightened.

You’re not the better human by not fighting back. You’re not the better human for choosing to have no claws or teeth. You’re not the better human for delegating responsibility your personal safety to some underpaid guy or girl with a tin badge. And you damn sure don’t get to claim a halo for your attitude.

(Emphasis in the original.)

To expand on Marko’s point (especially the one he brings up at the end of his post), you are demonstrably less civilized, moral, intelligent, and/or enlightened if you force people – against their will – to disarm in the face of animals and humans who wish to do them harm. There have always been predators. There are always predators. There will always be predators. So long as cellular life runs/crawls/squirms its way around this planet, those three statements will remain true. However, rather than simply succumb to a world where the bigger/badder/faster/stronger predator gets what the bigger/badder/faster/stronger predator wants simply because he is bigger/badder/faster/stronger, we thinking, reasoning, rational (at times) human beings have employed that squishy gray stuff between our ears to develop tools to allow the smaller/nicer/slower/weaker members of our species to exist in our world, content in the knowledge that they would be capable of defending themselves should the situation demand it.

Stripping the capability of self-defense from people without recourse or reason turns us back to the world where the bigger/badder/faster/stronger get what they want, and the smaller/nicer/slower/weaker get screwed. That is not civilized, moral, intelligent, or enlightened.

I have long-since maintained we need to come up with a single, unifying term for "people who force other people to involuntarily be victims for predators". "Victimizers" are typically the predators preying on the victims in question, while "accessory", "accomplice", "facilitator", "abettor", and all the rest of those all lack the psychological "oomph" I am looking for, and "cowardly scumbags who want the government to disarm potential victims in the face of known predatory threats" is just too damned long to repeatedly type out.