Archive for February, 2017
The Minneapolis Institute of the Arts (MIA) had the pleasure of hosting a fight between some protesters and some people accused of being neo-Nazis:
A shoving match broke out in a most unlikely place, the typically serene Minneapolis Institute of Art, where three people who appeared to be neo-Nazis fought with several others in another group of activists, a witness said Sunday.
Security guards arrived at the mayhem Saturday afternoon on the museum’s third floor, broke up the confrontation and had one of the reputed neo-Nazis on the floor, said museum visitor Will Bildsten.
A friend of Bildsten’s said he saw punches thrown during the fracas.
Normally I wouldn’t share a random story about two groups getting into a scuffle in a museum. But the comments I’ve been hearing about this warrant some comment from me.
As you might expect, a lot of people have been cheering the activists who engaged the accused neo-Nazis. This is all part of the “Is it okay to punch a Nazi,” trend. One side believes violence is an unacceptable response to somebody exercising their free speech, regardless of how vile that speech is. The other side thinks people have a moral obligation to use force against anybody advocating fascism. It’s the second group I want to pan right now.
Why do I have a moral obligation to violently attack advocates of fascism but not advocates of Marxism–Leninism? In fact, many of the people demanding Nazis be violently attacked wherever they are are advocates of Marxism–Leninism. There is no meaningful difference between the two groups other than one is for national socialism while the other is for international socialism and they use different ways of labeling groups they want to wipe out.
Fascists want to wipe out Jews, Marxist–Leninists want to wipe out kulaks. Fascists want to wipe out people who aren’t white, Marxist–Leninists want to wipe out people who aren’t proletariats. Fascists want to wipe out opponents to fascism, Marxist-Leninists want to wipe out counter-revolutionaries. What’s especially interesting is that these different labels are often applied to the same groups of people. Jews are frequently labeled kulaks and bourgeois, for example.
All I’m asking for is some goddamn consistency. Those who are against using violence in response to any form of speech are already acting consistently. But if you believe it’s okay to punch a fascist then you should be equally fine with punching a Marxist-Leninist. Both philosophies are equally vile.
Rumors of Gander Mountain’s demise have been on point. This probably doesn’t come as a surprise to anybody who has walked into one of its stores. Its prices are ridiculous, especially in this age of online shopping. A lot of its used guns go for the same price as new guns elsewhere. And when it runs a sale the prices finally come down to normal prices elsewhere.
In the last week people have been claiming that Gander Mountain is in the process of filing bankruptcy. The company finally put out a statement on the matter. I think the statement will go down in history has one of the best examples of corporate speak:
As a privately held company, it is our longstanding policy not to comment on our business affairs. Unfortunately, recent speculative news articles have caused concern among some of our customers, employees, and trade partners, and require us to make a rare exception.
Gander Mountain is the nation’s largest outdoor retail network with 162 specialty stores across 26 states. We are a fully integrated Omni-Channel retailer dedicated to servicing the hunting, camping, fishing, shooting sports, and outdoor products markets. As ‘America’s Firearms Supercenter™,’ we are a market leader in the shooting sports category with an extensive offering of firearms, ammunition, and accessories.
Like most retailers, we are subject to normal economic cycles, changes in our industry and shifts in consumer demand that require us to adapt our business accordingly. It’s been that way since 1960, when we started out as a catalog company in small-town Wisconsin, and it remains the case today. It is this constant adaptation and desire to offer our customers the best selection, best value and best service that has been our hallmark for generations.
Gander Mountain and its ownership group have undertaken a best-practices approach to review our strategic options specific to positioning the company for long-term success. When we engage in such a review we often seek information and advice from external advisors to inform our decisions. To assist in this process, we have retained Houlihan Lokey as independent advisors and we are confident that the outcome of the review will identify the right go-forward strategy. In the meantime, our Gander Mountain stores and gandermountain.com remain the place to go for all of our customers’ outdoor adventure needs.
That is a lot of words put together to say nothing meaningful. If I had my corporate buzzword bing cards out I’d have probably screamed bingo at least a dozen times. I could have cut that statement down to a single sentence: Our financials are fucked and we’re brining in outside help in the hopes of fixing this shit.
I’ve periodically told gun control advocates that if they really want to land a blow against the gun industry they should vote for Republicans. The industry does best when the fear of gun control legislation is on the table, which is generally higher when Democrats get into office. Since the Republicans have pretty much taken everything we’re probably going to see a great culling of gun manufacturers and resellers as sales drop. Business like Gander Mountain, whose propensity to overcharge is well known through the shooting community, are in trouble.
Fellow Minnesotans, I’m proud to announced that after a great deal of political begging, kowtowing, and cock sucking we’re going to be granted the privilege of buying alcohol on Sundays:
The legislation allowing Sunday sales passed the state Senate on Monday, after sailing through the state House by a wide margin last week.
Senators and representatives must still iron out minor differences between the two versions of the bill — one version would allow sales to begin on Sundays at 10 a.m., while the other would allow sales to start at 11 a.m.
But once those disputes are ironed out in a conference committee, the bill is all but certain to become law. Gov. Mark Dayton (D) has said he will not veto the bill.
And it only took 159 years!
This year marked the first time since Minnesota became a state, in 1858, that a Sunday sales law even passed one of the two legislative chambers.
See? The political process works! After more than a century and a half of begging their political masters, Minnesotans have finally carved out a tiny bit more freedom for themselves! At this rate people will be able to buy a car on Sunday by 2176!
After an exceedingly long wait, Ex Deo’s new album, The Immortal Wars, was finally released on Friday. The album is solid gold. Every song on it makes me want to grab a gladius and go slaughter some carthaginians. Some of you may be tiring of Ex Deo but that’s just too bad because we’re going to be listening to them again. This week’s Monday Metal entry is my favorite song off of The Immortal Wars, Cato Major:
I don’t think there’s anything I can add to this to make it more ridiculous:
Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) on Wednesday cautioned that a nuclear weapon could enter the U.S. under the cover of marijuana.
“We sometimes used to make the point that if someone wanted to smuggle a dangerous weapon into America, even a nuclear weapon, how would they do it?” he said on CNN. “The suggestion is, maybe we’ll hide it in a bale of marijuana. There are national security implications here for a porous border.
I guess smuggling nuclear warheads into the country on rockets was a bit expensive.
There are a lot of vague laws. For example, if you own a computer numerical control (CNC) machine and use it to build a firearm you’re legally in the clear so long as you can legally possess the firearm where you live. However, if you let somebody else use the machine are you still in the clear? You can legally manufacturer your own firearm so long as you don’t transfer it but what constitutes manufacturing your own firearm? This is one of those legal gray areas that one should be careful about operating in:
According to investigators, Crowninshield, known online as “Dr. Death,” would sell unfinished AR-15 lower receivers, which customers would then pay for him to transform into fully machined lower receivers using a computer numerically controlled (CNC) mill. (In October 2014, Cody Wilson, of Austin, Texas, who has pioneered 3D-printed guns, began selling a CNC mill called “Ghost Gunner,” designed to work specifically on the AR-15 lower.)
“In order to create the pretext that the individual in such a scenario was building his or her own firearm, the skilled machinist would often have the individual press a button or put his or her hands on a piece of machinery so that the individual could claim that the individual, rather than the machinist, made the firearm,” the government claimed in its April 14 plea agreement.
CNC machines add a new twist to manufacturing. Instead of being required to learn how to use a series of tools a person can now download specifications, place a raw block of material in a machine, press a button, and grab a coffee while they wait for the machine to finish doing its thing. Crowninshield decided that if he had his customer press the button that started the milling process then they would legally be manufacturing the firearm. I agree with that interpretation but since he plead guilty we don’t know what the courts think of that interpretation.
The lesson this story teaches is that one needs to be careful when operating in legal gray areas. Although you’re at risk of being arrested and charged for anything you do, you’re at especially high risk when the law isn’t clear about whether your activity is legal or illegal.
Some health insurance companies have started pilot programs where customers can receive a discount for wearing a fitness tracker and sharing the data with the company. This seems like a pretty straight forward idea. But according to Bloomberg it’s a sinister ploy:
Think about what that means for insurance. It’s meant to be a mechanism to pool risk — that is, to equalize the cost of protecting against unforeseen health problems. But once the big data departments of insurance companies have enough information — including about online purchases and habits — they can build a minute profile about each and every person’s current and future health. They can then steer “healthy” people to cheaper plans, while leaving people who have higher-risk profiles — often due to circumstances beyond their control — to pay increasingly unaffordable rates.
Whenever health insurance companies up I’m forced to explain what insurance is. I shouldn’t have to do this but nobody seems to know what it means.
Insurance is a way for multiple people to pool their resources for risk mitigation. Take home owner’s insurance for example. When you buy a home owner’s policy you’re donating some money to a common pool. Any paying customer can withdraw from the pool if they experience a situation, such as a house fire, that is covered by the insurance policy. Those with higher risks are more likely to withdraw from the pool so they pay a higher premium. Those with lower risks pay less.
Automobile insurance is the same way. Higher risk drivers; such as young males, people who have been found guilty of driving while intoxicated, people who have been found guilty of reckless driving, etc.; pay a higher premium because they’re more likely to withdraw from the community pool.
Most people accept that higher risk people should pay a higher premium for home owner’s or automobile insurance. But when they’re talking about health insurance they suddenly have a change of heart and think that higher risk people should pay the same as lower risk people. That makes no sense. Health insurance, like any other form of insurance, is pooled risk mitigation. If you live an unhealthy lifestyle you’re more likely to withdraw from the pool so you pay a higher premium. Oftentimes these risks are outside of your control, which sucks. However, if the pool empties, that is to say there are more withdrawals than deposits over a long enough period of time to completely drain the accounts, everybody loses their coverage. That being the case, higher risk people have to pay more to ensure the pool remains solvent even if the risks are outside of their control.
It’s not a sinister scheme, it’s exactly how insurance works.
The Foundation for Economic Education posted an excellent article explaining how absurd it would be to run grocery stores like public schools. But the best piece of information in the article is this:
One often hears that education is too important to leave to the whims of the market. Yet food is even more important; it’s a prerequisite before education can be considered. In spite of this, the (relatively) free market in food seems to work quite well.
Consumers get a wide variety at a low cost. Even people that have niche dietary requirements like gluten-free or vegan have products suited to them. And while complaints about the quality of public education are rampant, one rarely hears objections about the quality of the grocery stores. In the latter case, people don’t have to complain; they just take their business to someone who will serve them better.
Education isn’t even possible if one doesn’t have enough food to survive. Yet public education is a sacred cow. If you criticize public education or, worse, advocate for its complete elimination you are going to hear a lot of people accusing you of hating children. However, if you don’t advocate for socializing grocery stores nobody cares. In fact, everybody seems to be fine with grocery stores remaining private.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that grocery stores in the United States are private. If they weren’t they’d operate like the grocery stores in the former Soviet Union or current ones in Venezuela. You’d have to wait in line for hours just to find out that the store doesn’t have anything you need in stock.
When I discuss anarchism with statists they always have a litany of excuses to justify why they believe the violence of the State is necessary. Roads are a popular one but another popular excuse are the police. Statists always want to know who will provide protection in a stateless society. One characteristic of statists that always amuses me is their insistence that anarchists solve problems that their precious government haven’t managed to solve. So my usual response to the question of police is asking who provides protection now.
Let’s consider the security market. If the State’s police were doing an adequate job of providing protection one would expect that the security market would be pretty small. But the security market is booming. Homeowners have subscribed to security services such as alarm systems for decades now. Surveillance cameras have been around for decades as well. At first surveillance cameras were used in stores to deter and identify thieves but now the price of decent quality cameras is low enough that one can find them in homes. Other security products that are becoming popular are films that can be applied to windows to make breaking in by smashing through a windows very difficult. Door locks, padlocks, and other forms of access control have existed for ages. It’s not unusual for companies to hire private security guards. Some companies even hire armed security guards.
Even the personal defense market is booming. Self-defense classes are available in even modestly sized townships. The number of carry permits being issued has continued to increase because many people, such as myself, realize that the only effective form of self-defense is what you have on you. In addition to carry permits, handguns designed to be easy to carry have been selling very well because people realize that the State’s police will take minutes, if you’re lucky, to get to you.
The State hasn’t done an effective job of providing security, which is why the market has stepped in. In the absence of government the market will continue serving the exact same function it’s serving today.
Let’s say that you’re in an interracial marriage. Now let’s say a rather unpleasant individual spray painted a racial slur on your garage door. Under the circumstance you’d expect the government to step in to find the vandal and arrest them, right? What would you say if the government decided to fine you for the graffiti through?
The N-word was written on the couple’s garage door over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend, but so far, no one has been arrested for the crime.
Heather Lindsay, who is white, said they won’t scrub it off until authorities “do their job” and “not just cover it up and sweep it under the table as they have done in the past.”
The Stamford, Conn., officials have slapped the couple with a blight citation, which carries a $100 daily fine.
The first thing worth noting is the fact that Mrs. Lindsay feels the need to leave the graffiti up in order to motivate the police to do their supposed job. Unfortunately, police are generally disinterested in enforcing property crimes because the State doesn’t stand to rake in a ton of cash off of them. Second, what Mrs. Lindsay does with her own property should be her own business. If she wants to leave the graffiti up then she should be able to leave it up. Third, and this is the most important point in my opinion, Mrs. Lindsay shouldn’t be held responsible for removing the graffiti, the perpetrator should be.
Under any sane justice system the perpetrator is the only person required to right their wrong. Under statism the victim is just as likely to suffer as the perpetrator. This is especially true when the crime that was committed wasn’t one that is generally profitable to the State. I guess the State has to make its profit somewhere.