Saturday, August 15, 2009

Lost or Stolen Handguns in Erie PA

The Gun Guys report on the 9th PA municipality to adopt reasonable legislation to help police crack down on illegal handguns.

Today, Erie City Council voted unanimously to pass a law requiring gun owners to report lost or stolen firearms to the police - joining a growing list of Pennsylvania communities that have passed this common sense reform to help police reduce access to illegal handguns.

By a 7-to-0 vote, Erie Council passed the lost or stolen firearms reporting ordinance at its regular council meeting today. Under the ordinance, firearm owners will have 72 hours to report a lost or stolen gun to the police after they have discovered it missing.

Why would such a thing even require legislation? Wouldn't any responsible gun owner feel conscience bound to report lost or stolen weapons? I suppose not, which is why the Pennsylvania municipalities are enacting these laws and hoping to make it state-wide before long.

Jana Finder, Western Pennsylvania coordinator for CeaseFirePA, noted important legal developments that have occurred since Erie Council began considering this ordinance last spring.

“In June, the PA Commonwealth Court affirmed Philadelphia’s lost or stolen handgun reporting ordinance, and, in July, the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas threw out the NRA’s lawsuit against the City of Pittsburgh, allowing Pittsburgh’s lost or stolen handgun reporting ordinance to stand.”

“The NRA’s fear and intimidation tactics are not holding up in court,” Finder added.

Why in the world would the NRA oppose this type of legislation? What could possibly be the downside for gun owners? Aren't gun control people and legal gun owners united in their opposition to guns falling into criminal hands?

What's your opinion? Is there a problem with this growing movement among Pennsylvania cities? Or is this evidence of the common ground that gun owners and gun control folks can share?

Please leave a comment.

Blue Flame Owner Kills Two in Harlem

The New York Daily News reports on the thwarted robbery in Harlem which left two would-be robbers dead and two wounded.

A shotgun-wielding owner of a Harlem restaurant-supply company blasted two robbers to death and wounded two others on Thursday when he caught them pistol-whipping his employee, police said.

Turning the tables on the brutish bandits, 72-year-old Charles (Gus) Augusto opened fire with a 12-gauge shotgun he kept handy for such occasions, cops and witnesses said.

Before reading any further I wondered how he shot the robbers without hitting his employee. If the guy was being pistol-whipped, he must have been within arm's length of the bad guy and a shotgun is not that accurate. Then the answer appeared.

The stickup crew - three 21-year-olds and a 29-year-old - came prepared with a pistol and plastic handcuffs. They tried to tie up two of Augusto's employees - a 35-year-old man and his 47-year-old female co-worker, said Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne.

"The male employee started to struggle, and then, as he did that, the perp with the gun struck him once in the head," Browne said.

"... That's when the owner opened fire with the shotgun."

As the bandits bolted from the store, Augusto squeezed off three blasts from the pistol-grip shotgun from 20 to 30 feet away from the pistol-whipped employee.

He was deadly accurate. The four bandits - who were all from Manhattan - were hit.

Two of the robbers were struck in the back. One, identified as James Morgan, dropped dead inside the store among the sparkling gas stoves, a pistol near his body.

It's unclear to me what happened with the first shot. From "20 to 30 feet away" I don't think he would have been able to hit the robber without endangering the employees. But once they turned and ran, it was possible. "Two of the robbers were struck in the back." How in the world can that be considered a legitimate shooting? Perhaps this gives us an inkling into the inflated numbers we always hear about these defensive shootings.

The police said the shotgun, which Charles Augusto bought 30 years ago after a robbery, may not have been legally owned, but that if he is "hit with a charge, it will be a minor one."

To me this is outrageous. Aren't there laws against people shooting other people in the back, regardless of what they were just doing? I understand the passions were running high, but that doesn't excuse shooting people down who are running away.

The furious employee who had been pistol-whipped ran out of the store and leaned over the mortally wounded Footmon, cursing at him, witnesses said.

The worker went back into the store and dragged Morgan's body onto the sidewalk, yelling at him and kicking him, witnesses said.

"He stood over the body cursing him and shaking him, even though he was dead," said Matthew Viane, 38, who lives in the neighborhood. "He was screaming at him and stomping him. "He [the employee] said, 'You were going to kill me? Now you're dead!'"

I can well imagine the shotgun-wielding owner, Mr. Augusto, had a similar reaction to being robbed and seeing his employee beaten. What I can't imagine is how the police can consider this a legitimate defensive shooting.

What's your opinion? I realize armed robbers run this risk when they do their thing, but aren't law-abiding citizens constrained to limit their defensive killings to only those cases in which lethal threat is operative?

Please leave a comment.

Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave

On the great site called Opinione, Il Principe has written a piece on freedom, which follows nicely on the Richie Havens video I posted yesterday.

As mankind has progressed over the centuries and into the 21st century, the meaning of freedom is viewed differently by people around the world and is measured in various ways. Should freedom be measured by economic, free speech, the type of government, or the level of civil rights its citizens enjoy? It is interesting to note that the only category that America is number one is the level of defense spending and gun violence.

Most of the time when an American politician talks about freedom in a speech, they are usually talking about a quantitive measure of freedom rather than a qualitative measure of freedom.
Yet, as the Grand Prince points out, even popular rankings like the number of millionaires and other measurements of quantitative freedom, America is behind the rising powers of Asia. The United States "does not even rank as the leading country in a World Bank report on doing business, which is ironic considering how much pride most Americans take in being a country with a capitalistic based economy."

Americans do not see the correlation between the half trillion defense budgets of the US government and an Empire of Bases around the world, which allow other countries to invest more in their social welfare programs, to being a factor in why their own citizens have less domestic services available like health care for the poor and less fortunate. The military industrial complex or just simply put the Pentagon’s budget, is like the 800-pound gorilla in the room no one wants to discuss. It used to be a 300-pound gorilla but just as the average American has gotten more obese, so has our old friend the gorilla.

What's your opinion? Does the Prince have a point here about defense spending? Has our country gone too far with the business of policing the world? Is it often just a smoke screen for the oil business and other private interests?

If these suggestions are true, how could those responsible possibly get away with such a thing. Here's how.

Part of the reason why most Americans do not see the correlation between the lack of health care and the huge military defense budgets and all is related expenditures is due to the low ranking of the American press. In the latest Reporters without Borders analysis of press freedoms around the world, America is considered the 41st best in the world for press freedom. Countries like Taiwan, South Africa, and Ghana have better press freedoms and a better variety of news sources than America does.

What do you think about that indictment? Wouldn't the O'Rielly and Beck nonsense which is countered by folks like Keith Olbermann indicate there is great freedom in the American press? Or are they all just examples of a big charade designed to keep people from seeing what's really going on? What's your opinion?

Please leave a comment.

Friday, August 14, 2009

What is Freedom?

Different people have different ideas of what freedom is. What's your opinion?

Philly Man Sentenced in Accidental Shooting reports on the sentencing of a Philadelphia man who accidentally killed his friend and neighbor during a Super Bowl party.

A man who accidentally shot to death the host of a Super Bowl party in Philadelphia has been sentenced to nine to 23 months in prison.

Fifty-year-old Ronald Parncutt had pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and other charges in June.

Prosecutors say Parncutt fatally shot his friend and neighbor Christopher Donaghy during the party Feb. 1. Parncutt had picked up a handgun owned by an off-duty police officer at the party and fired, not realizing the gun was real.

Parncutt profusely apologized to Donaghy's family in court on Wednesday.

The Plymouth Township police officer who owned the gun is awaiting trial on charges of recklessly endangering another person.

It's difficult to imagine the circumstances in which a police officer would permit access to his weapon like that. It's difficult to imagine how a 50-year-old man could pick it up, thinking it's a fake weapon, aim it at someone and pull the trigger. Wouldn't the weight of the gun be enough to indicate it's not a toy?

When I was about 20 years old, I met a high-school buddy who had joined the police department. He was in uniform, wearing a sidearm, a revolver. I asked if I could see it. He immediately drew the gun, clicked open the cylinder and dropped the bullets into his hand, closed the cylinder with a flick of the wrist and handed it over to me. I was always impressed with that.

Isn't it common sense for a police officer, or any gun owner for that matter, to take precautions like that? Do you think if Mr. Parncutt is going to do about a year for killing the guy, the police officer will be sentenced to even less? It seems clear to me that the stupidity of the man how pulled the trigger outweighs the stupidity of the gun owner. What do you think?

For crimes like unintentional homicide and reckless endangerment, in other words, for crimes of stupidity, are light sentences the best way to go? What's your opinion?

Please leave a comment.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Machine Gun Lesson

During the Prohibition period, machine guns were the preferred weapon of the organized crime gangsters who flourished. Obviously the increased firepower fully automatic weapons provided made them very valuable in fighting the police and other gangs. In 1934, The National Firearms Act put an end to all that. Well short of an actual ban, the NFA was a severe regostration, licensing and taxation statute, with regards certain weapons including the machine gun.

All NFA items must be registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). Private owners wishing to purchase an NFA item must obtain permission from the ATF, obtain a signature from the county or city or town chief of police (not necessarily permission), pass an extensive background check to include submitting a photograph and finger prints, fully register the firearm, receive ATF written permission before moving the firearm across state lines, and pay a tax. The request to transfer ownership of an NFA item is made on an ATF Form 4.

The only thing more astounding than the results of this legislation is the fact that pro-gun folks keep saying gun control laws don't work. The most common reason they give is that criminals won't obey them. Well, what happens is this. When every machine gun is registered and every owner is licensed after having passed such a rigorous background check, very few of these guns end up in the wrong hands. It does not depend on criminal compliance.

From The GunCite:

In 1995 there were over 240,000 machine guns registered with the BATF. About half are owned by civilians and the other half by police departments and other governmental agencies (Gary Kleck, Targeting Guns: Firearms and Their Control, Walter de Gruyter, Inc., New York, 1997.)

Since 1934, Prof. Kleck has determined only 2 homicides were committed with legally owned machine guns, and only slightly more than that with illegal ones.

Again in Targeting Guns, Kleck writes, four police officers were killed in the line of duty by machine guns from 1983 to 1992. (713 law enforcement officers were killed during that period, 651 with guns.)

In 1980, when Miami's homicide rate was at an all-time high, less than 1% of all homicides involved machine guns. (Miami was supposedly a "machine gun Mecca" and drug trafficking capital of the U.S.) Although there are no national figures to compare to, machine gun deaths were probably lower elsewhere.

  • Of 2,200 guns recovered by Minneapolis police (1987-1989), not one was fully automatic.

  • A total of 420 weapons, including 375 guns, were seized during drug warrant executions and arrests by the Metropolitan Area Narcotics Squad (Will and Grundie counties in the Chicago metropolitan area, 1980-1989). None of the guns was a machine gun.

  • 16 of 2,359 (0.7%) of the guns seized in the Detroit area (1991-1992) in connection with "the investigation of narcotics trafficking operations" were machine guns.

Dennis A. Henigan says this on page 60 of Lethal Logic.

Of course there may be sound policy objections to imposing on handguns the same tight controls we impose on manchine guns. But the "criminals will always get guns" argument is not one of them. Based on the machine gun regulatory experience there should at least be a presumption that a strong, well-administered licensing and registration system can be as effective for other firearms as it has been for machine guns.

What's your opinion? What would those "sound policy objections" be? I honestly can't think of a one.

Please leave a comment.

Is Glenn Beck's Popularity Waxing or Waning?

Who are all these Glenn Beck fans? John recently commented that even though he's pro-gun like Beck, he thinks Glenn Beck should be "seeing a shrink." Mike W. says he's "really freaking nuts," but that he agrees with some of what Beck says.

Now those are certainly less than unqualified support. Where are the real fans? Can no one tell us what the appeal is?

Do you agree that whenever one sponsor drops Beck's show another will fill the spot? I do. I think as long as he's popular, reports like this about sponsors dropping him, will just make him more popular. But, why? That's my question.

Domestic Violence - Woman Kills Man

The Washington post reports on a story of a woman who shot and killed her husband.

The co-owner of a Southeast Washington tattoo parlor was ordered held in the District jail on Tuesday on charges of killing her husband by shooting him in the head and back.

Authorities charged Kristin Kozak-Burnett, 36, with second-degree murder in the Monday slaying of her husband, Michael Burnett, 56, inside their apartment over their Liquidity Jones tattoo parlor at 1503 Pennsylvania Ave. SE.

The first thing I'd want to know is where the gun came from. If I had to guess, I'd say Virginia. I wouldn't expect it to have come from New York or New Jersey where they have proper gun control laws that work. Nor would I think it came from a local DC gun shop. Yes, probably Virginia.

Secondly, I'd want to know why she did it. Even before reading the rest of the article, I was guessing we've got the Burning Bed Syndrome here.

Since 2001, Burnett had been in out and out of jail for robbery and assault, including a 2008 fugitive robbery charge in Virginia. In 2008 and 2009, Burnett was twice charged with assault against his wife. Once he was found not guilty and the other charge was dismissed.

At the time, Kozak-Burnett told police she was scared and that their fights would not end "until he kills her," according to court documents.

Kozak-Burnett has also had her share of charges, including burglary and drug charges. In 2006, she was the key prosecution witness in the trial of the man who killed Eric N. Miler, a Securities and Exchange Commission lawyer from Fairfax County.

Kozak -- who was not married to Burnett at the time -- testified that she, Miller and Dana E. Moro were smoking crack in an Alexandria motel room in 2005 when Moro smashed Miller in the head with a lead pipe. Moro was sentenced to 33 years in prison for the killing.

What's your opinion? Do you see this case as an example of the woman saving herself with a gun? Or is this just another twist on the old theme, guns are bad news for women? Although Ms. Kozak-Burnett was not your typical battered and helpless housewife, as her brutal husband found out, that gun certainly didn't do her any favors. With her criminal background and appearance, arms covered with tattoos, I don't suppose her chances are very good in court at justifying her actions.

What do you think?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Police Academy

Was this a funny movie, or what?

Glenn Beck, Showman

Does anyone else think Glenn Beck is faking when he has these emotional moments? Do actual tears ever come? Do you think the people who watch him, take him seriously or are they just enjoying the outlandishness of his performance? I would watch him if I lived in the States. But, I honestly find it hard to believe people buy into this stuff.

Please leave a comment with your opinion of Glenn Beck. Do pro-gun folks like everything he says because they like what he says about guns? Or is there a certain consistency in what he says; is it natural that the pro-gun sympathizers would agree with him on the other issues?

Please tell us.

New Orleans the Murder Capital reported a couple months ago that New Orleans is once again the murder capital of the United States.

Police Superintendent Warren Riley says the population count used to calculate the New Orleans murder rate is not accurate.

"We believe that there is a significant increase in our population with the undocumented workers who are not counted," said Riley.

But, two sets of population estimates show the Crescent City ahead of St. Louis, Baltimore, Birmingham, Jackson, Mississippi and Baton Rouge, which ranked 7th on the list.

Using the FBI's numbers of just over 281,000, New Orleans had 64 murders per 100,000 people.

Using the recent census figure of close to 312,000 people, the city had 57 murders per 100,000.

Chief Riley uses what he considers to be the flawed number to make the point New Orleans is reducing its murder rate.

“We were at 75 per 100,000 back in 2006, 70 in 2007 and if use the best numbers for 2008, the best population numbers of 311,000, we were at 57 per 100,000," said Riley. "Clearly there is still a problem."

I think Superintendent Riley is as good at spinning the numbers as some of our pro-gun friends. He only used the "best numbers" as he called them for 2008. But as some observers said, whether it's 57 or 64 per 100,000, New Orleans is one dangerous city.

In the several articles I looked at about this story which was released in June, there was no mention of guns. Is that because Louisiana is a gun friendly state and they don't like to blame the problem on the easy access of guns? Or is it as many of our commenters say, that the "tool" used to commit murder is not important?

I think it's very important. I think it makes all the difference. And I ask you who say gun trafficking to the northern cities is not a factor, when looking at New Orleans, where do you suppose their guns come from? Do you think they are trafficked in from New Jersey? Or are they bought locally from legitimate dealers and end up in criminal hands?

What's your opinion?

Jackie Gleason

The Miami Herald reports that Jackie Gleason is being honored with his own stamp.

The Honeymooners series was entirely shot before a live audience in 1955 and 1956. The reruns were on continually during the 60s and 70s. In New Jersey it was practically mandatory viewing.

"Address the ball."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Eric Thompson on Sodini

Via the Gun Guys. It seems to me Mr. Thompson has improved his delivery of the standard pro-gun rationale. I don't find his attitude as objectionable as I did a couple years ago, but the message is the same.

What's your opinion?

Charges Dropped Against Paul Shelly reports on the good news for McKeesport Councilman Paul Shelly. When the story first broke, I jumped to the conclusion that Paul was just another of the many legitimate gun owners who had no business with a gun in the first place. Happily, I was wrong about him.

A McKeesport councilman had a preliminary hearing Monday morning and, though felony charges were dropped, he will go to trial after a June 13 incident.

Police said McKeesport City Councilman Paul Shelly went into a dry cleaning shop on Walnut Avenue, where he became upset when he was told he could not put a campaign sign up in the shop’s window.

Police said Shelly threatened the shop owner with a gun. However, when police later stopped Shelly while he was driving and arrested him, they found no gun in his car.

What it looks like then is the owner of the shop lied about Shelly's having had a gun and the councilman's political enemies used it, first of all, to lock him up like a common criminal and secondly, to try to ruin his mayoral aspirations.

What's your opinion? Was this a miscarriage of justice from the very beginning since the police found no gun on his person or in his car? Shouldn't the false accusation have been recognized for what it was?

Please leave a comment.

Texas Executions in Decline

The Sun Journal reports that the number of executions in Texas in 2008 was the lowest in decades.

Nine people convicted by the state's juries in 2008 were sentenced to die, according to an annual review of capital punishment cases by the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

It also found that six executions this year were stopped by last-minute reprieves and seven Texas inmates were removed from death row with sentences commuted to life.

Executions in the nation's busiest death chamber were down to 18 from 26 a year ago, but no executions were carried out until June because of a de facto nationwide moratorium on capital punishment while the Supreme Court considered whether lethal injection methods were unconstitutionally cruel.

The implication is a good one for the anti-capital punishment movement. Texas juries appear to have tempered their condemnations. In Harris County, which is the state's top contributor to death row, no one was sentenced to death in 2008. It was a first time since the U.S. Supreme Court allowed capital punishment to resume in 1976. "A lot of it can be attributed to life without parole and people who plead," Roe Wilson, a Harris County prosecutor who handles capital case appeals, said Thursday. Harris County accounts for 118 of the state's 354 condemned inmates.

What's your opinion? Does this indicate that public opinion about the death penalty is shifting? What do you think about the alternative of life without parole for the worst of the worst? The fact that it's more cost effective in the long run and eliminates the possibility of wrongly executing people, isn't it a better way to go?

Please leave a comment.

Less Defense Spending = More COPS

On the wonderful site called Opinione, Il Principe talks about Military spending.

The power of the military industrial complex in America and its related cousin the national security state apparatus is lost on the American people. Why is that more Americans do not see the huge amount of expenditures going to the military while their standard of living and economic prosperity decline?

As The Grand Prince points out, it's not only the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that drain the public coffers; it's the maintenance of hundreds of military bases throughout the world. He's often written about how many there are here in Italy and how unnecessary they seem to be.

Il Principe spells it out for us:

According to the 2008 official Pentagon inventory of our military bases around the world, the military wing of the American Empire consists of 865 facilities with over 190,000 troops in 46 countries and territories. The cost to maintain these military outposts is estimated to cost over 102 billion dollars a year. Most of these troops and military installations are positioned to protect the sources and movement of oil.

One side-effect of this tremendous diversion of resources is that "police forces in America are under staffed leading to higher rates of fatal shootings by police officers."

The correlation is easy to make if you consider the tendency that some law enforcement officers have to shoot first and ask questions later due to the high rate of gun ownership and availability of firearms in America.

What do you think about that? Is that why cops shoot people? To me it makes perfect sense. Policemen, whose departments are understaffed, while trying to cope with an increasingly armed criminal element would tend to be a bit trigger happy.

A partial solution is coming in the form of a recent federal grant program known as COPS, short for Community Oriented Policing Services. This program is an attempt by the Obama administration and the Democratic leadership to direct more funds into local American communities. Part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 allocated $1 billion to the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) for the COPS Hiring Recovery Program (CHRP). Approximately 5,500 additional sworn law enforcement officers will be added to agencies across the country through funding provided by this program.

The funding of more law enforcement officers with the COPS grant is a proactive approach to addressing the proliferate amount of illegal handguns on the streets of America, respecting the rights of legal gun owners, while also keeping the safety of police officers in mind.

What's your opinion? Do you agree that the understaffing of police departments in many places is part of the problem and that hiring additional cops will help? What about the bigger question of military spending and unnecessary military bases throughout the world? Is that something we need to change?

Please leave a comment.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Frank Schaeffer on Rachel Maddow

When you start comparing a democratically elected President who is not only our first Black President but a moderate progressive, to Adolph Hitler, you have arrived at a point where you are literally leaving a loaded gun on the table, saying the first person who wants to come along and use this, go ahead, be our guest.

I first saw this on the great site of True Blue Texan.

He touches very strongly on one of our favorite topics: shared responsibility. I'm almost willing to admit that Mr. Thompson cannot be held responsible for what his clients do with the guns he sells them. But, would you apply the same thinking to the Rush Limbaughs and Glenn Becks and Bill O'Riellys of the world. Mr. Schaeffer was referring to the Adkisson case in which the killer actually stated that he was motivated by those guys.

What's your opinion?

Keep the Guns; Surrender the Freedoms

From the great YouTube channel of LiberalViewer.

What do you think? Is it a "false sense of security" that gun owners enjoy? Of lawyers, guns and money, which is the least necessary to protect our freedoms? Should the right to keep and bear arms really be considered an essential right for citizens of a free society?

Road Rage Dallas Style

The Dallas News reports on the latest shooting by a CCW holder.

Authorities arrested a 32-year-old man suspected of shooting two men after an early morning car accident today, police said.

Steven Griffin faces two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in the shooting of Zenas Hicks and a bystander outside a gas station in Old East Dallas, just south of Samuell Grand Park.

About 12:40 this morning, Griffin and Hicks were involved in a car accident in the 5700 block of East R.L. Thornton Freeway, police said. They both pulled into a gas station a couple of blocks away and began arguing.

Griffin returned to his vehicle, flashed a handgun and told Hicks that he had a license to carry the weapon. The argument escalated, and Griffin fired two rounds into the pavement and two at Hicks, who was shot in the legs.

In addition to the target of his aggression, Griffin also shot an innocent bystander who was pumping gas at the time. Fortunately both men were only wounded.

As our frequent commenter Bob S. pointed out the other day, there's little difference between the urban problems of northern cities and their southern counterparts.

The idea that the problems of the inner city in Chicago is any different than the problems of the inner city in Dallas, or New Orleans or any others state is absolute bunk!

I couldn't agree more, as far as the gun violence goes. And I thank Bob for putting the lie to the oft-repeated refrain of the pro-gun crowd that the problems in Chicago, for example, prove the local gun laws don't work. The implication is that only places like Chicago have these problems. But, as Bob pointed out, they exist also in the larger urban centers of the South where the gun laws are lax.

Here's the difference though. Crime guns recovered in the southern cities are procured locally. Crime guns recovered in the northern cities are trafficked in from the South.

What's your opinion? Isn't it time for federal regulations that will unify some of these varying State policies? Wouldn't that help? Doesn't the fact that crime guns in the northern cities have to be imported prove that their gun control laws work?

Please leave a comment.

Time Capsule - Breckenridge Colorado

The Summit Daily News reports on a 100-year time capsule which has been unearthed and is being prepared for re-burial.

Hundreds of spectators gathered Saturday morning at the cornerstone of Summit County Courthouse for a historic Masonic ceremony and presentation of a 100-year-old time capsule's contents.

The little copper box — which had been cracked open in advance — has preserved coins, samples of bonds, maps, a book of poems and copies of local newspapers from 1909 in mint condition.

Locals and visitors of all ages watched from the courthouse lawn as a series of bag-pipers and Masons adorned with jewels and white aprons walked up Lincoln Avenue to the courthouse cornerstone.

What is it with these Masons? Why are they always around the time capsules?

Charles Johnson, Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Masonic Lodge of Colorado, led the same ceremony presented at the site in 1909 — as well as at cornerstone ceremonies for the Colorado State Capitol and the Capitol in Washington, D.C.

There it is. What I've suspected all along. The Masons have discovered the secret of immortality. The statement clearly says Charles Johnson was present at the 1909 ceremony, inference being that he personally will oversee the 2109 festivities as well.

Breckenridge Mayor John Warner spoke of the town in 2109, when the new time capsule will presumably be opened. “I think our forests are going to be beautiful in 100 years,” he said, alluding to the post-mountain pine-beetle generation of vegetation. He said he foresees a more “sustainable and diverse community” with more workforce housing and childcare. Transit will be further developed, and communities will be more “walkable.”

They're putting the usual items in the copper box, including several DVDs. It makes you think about the rate with which technology is improving. Is it really faster these days? In 1909, I suppose they had 78-RPM records made out of thick hard plastic. That was probably the state of the art audio technology for decades before it was replaced by a similar product. As it turns out, our cassette tapes or DVDs have had a similar longevity before being replaced by similar products. So maybe in 100 years, the future folks of Breckenridge Colorado will have to recruit the services of an antique dealer or an expert in audio and video equipment in order to view today's DVDs.

What do you think? Is the mayor of Breckenridge too optimistic? How do you see the America of 2109? Will cities like Breckenridge in the Rocky Mountains escape the unstoppable degradation of larger urban centers?

Please leave a comment.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Minnesota Atheists Visit the Creation Museum

On PZ Myers site there are several posts up about the fascinating field trip he organized. After viewing the dinosaur exhibit, in which each of the geological periods was assigned a recent date, he had this to say.

Even if you don't care about the geology, what about the history? All but 7 people are exterminated in 2348 BC, by their accounting, yet we know that in that century, we have the establishment of the Akkadian empire in Mesopotamia, the sixth dynasty in Egypt, the founding of major cities in the Indus valley and Korea…we have archaeological and historical records that show business as usual, with no one noting a massive annihilation of the human race.

The whole "museum" is like that — it's a succession of assertions that flout the evidence, but does so in a style that is simply parroted from legitimate museums. Substance is completely lacking.

For me, Prof. Myers and his atheist friends often seem to be too sarcastic and condescending. But, who can blame them in the face of something like this. Do people really take the literal interpretation of the Bible seriously? Sadly, I know the answer to that.

I'd be interested to know if our regular commenters who claim Biblical justification for carrying guns also go for this creationism business. It is a fascinating business.

Please leave a comment.

Family Squabbles on Long Island - 3 Dead 1 Wounded reports on the Roslyn Heights murder suicide that took place Friday.

A man whose wife and daughter were moving away from the Roslyn Heights home where they had been living apart from him for the past year shot them and his mother-in-law Friday before turning the gun on himself, Nassau police said, in a bloodbath that rocked a quiet neighborhood.

The man's estranged wife was the sole survivor of the shotgun blasts that took her daughter and mother, then the man himself, police said.

The angry husband and father was named Mohamed Shojaeifard, 49 years old. He shot and killed his mother in-law, Batool Biraman, 66, his daughter, Mandana Shojaeifard, 17, and seriously wounded his estranged wife, Haleh Mohseni, 40, before turning the gun on himself.

For me the only thing worse than this is when the guy kills his wife and only wounds himself. That happens every once in a while. But, what you almost never hear is the wife and mother killing her entire family with a gun. I know Andrea Yates used another means, but even so, it's rather rare. Mr. Shojaeifard provides us with yet another illustration of my ever popular theory that guns are bad news for women.

What's your opinion? Does the fact that he used a shotgun mean there's nothing we could have done to prevent this? After all, shotguns are as American as apple pie; not even the most fanatical gun control proponent talks about banning them.

The assault-style shotgun used in the attack is marketed for self-defense. Nassau County does not require registration of such weapons. The gun found in Shojaeifard's car was a traditional shotgun with a stock.

Some of my critics might be surprised that I actually agree it's not just about the gun. More than the particular weapon used, I think it's the mindset which says if you've got a problem, blasting away with a gun is a viable option. We see it all the time with young people. Do you think the attitude of legitimate gun owners feeds into this in some way? Don't they have a similar attitude? If someone steps out of line too far, in the judgment of the gun owner, blasting away with a gun is a viable option.

The problem with that is, number one, many legitimate gun owners are not qualified to make such life and death judgments, and number two, the general attitude of fixing a sticky situation with bullets knows no boundaries; it permeates the world of legal gun owners as well as that of the criminals as well as that of the unbalanced like Shojaeifard.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.