Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Things that go gurgle in the night.

Back from class and some late-evening grocery shopping.

Family's already put to bed.

I do a little check-up of my favorite stomping grounds (mostly my blogroll, at right), and hear my younger daughter whimper in her bedroom. I start to close the comment I'm typing on someone's blog, and hear her step out of her bedroom, and burst into tears when she finds the door to the bathroom closed. I go to her, and do exactly the wrong thing: I try to comfort her.

As I'm embracing her with my arms, I notice a little vomit on the sleeve of her nightgown.

So of course, I do more of the wrong thing: I ask an obvious question. "Did you throw up, Hon?"

[In my mind's eye, I will later watch this memory as if I am spectator. And I'll shout at myself, "No, you idiot! Drag her into the bathroom and face her over the toilet. Run, you fools!" ]

My daughter, clearly in distress, nods violently, and then pukes copiously over the floor. Well. At least she got over the hardwood floors. Too bad we'd put a little rug outside the bathroom door. I take her into the bathroom.

Before she even reaches the potty, she runs for the sink. Good kid!

We do some of that for awhile.

I wash her hair and change her 'jammies, and change her sheets, and put her back to bed with a gulp of Pepto Bismol, or whatever damned brand I bought in an industrial-sized bottle. ("Now! With more pink dye!")

An hour later, after I've washed out the rug with the hose and some Spray 'N' Wash, cleaned the floor, and cleaned up the bathroom, she makes another dash out. This time, everything went into its place, and I even get her hair out of the way. (Flashbacks of my freshman year of college...) In a sudden blaze of inspiration, I find a hair tie and pull her hair back for the night.

This time I plop an empty trashcan next to her bed, with strict instructions to use it, should the need arise.

I think someone's going to have to hold off on getting to eat this evening's plunder.

_ _ _

Giving her the Pepto, knowing that I'd probably be seeing it again soon, reminded me of an experience that I overheard between my old college roommate and his unfortunate choice of a girlfriend, after she had consumed too much alcohol:

Her: I just need to throw up. I feel so sick. If I could just throw up, I'd feel better. But I can't.

Him, concerned: If you're feeling bad, would you like some of this Kaopectate, so you'll feel better?

Her: OhMyGawd, NO! I can't stand that stuff. If I taste it, I'll throw up!

Him: ...?...

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Deadly force is authorized.

Through Marko and John Shirley, we hear of the story of scumbag Paul Landingham, a 37 year old Salem, OR man who attacked and began to rape a woman on crutches. While residents of the apartments behind the scene listened and looked on, the woman called for help. NOTHING would have been done, but for a car full of good Samaritans stopping. Three men hopped out and issued Mr. Landingham the ass-whipping he so richly deserved before he was arrested by the police.

Pretty-boy, Emo-esque, whiney Keith Cole is seen on camera, telling of how terrible it was that this bastard could just try to take her humanity. . . but he did nothing. None of the other apartment residents who heard the attack did, either. Shades of Kitty Genovese. John quite rightly points out that Keith Cole should be ashamed of himself. Indeed, he must never again call himself a man. Stopping a sexual assault in progress is certainly a worthwhile time to employ deadly force, if you're not tough enough to beat the bastard up.

_ _ _
Even after Tennessee v. Garner, deadly force is still authorized to re-apprehend escaped prisoners. Especially escaped armed murderers. Who just killed a cop to escape.

But the cops in Providence, RI didn't kill Esteban Carpio after he shot Det. Sgt Allen with the detective's own gun in April, 2006. They re-arrested him 45 minutes later, and he was shortly marched into a courtroom with a spitmask on. His relatives declared police brutality when they saw his swollen face. Interestingly, so did the reporters and analysts in this news story on the situation. Apparently, they were able to determine that Mr. Carpio's head injuries (which he fully recovered from) were sustained from unlawful force, rather than from the 60-foot leap from the interview room window, or from lawful struggle with him while he was being detained.

"The boy clearly took a beating," says a news woman. Carpio (the "boy") was a 26 year old man, in custody for the stabbing murder of an 81 year old woman.

It's frankly impressive that he walked into the courtroom alive and under his own steam, after having been arrested by the acquaintances of the cop he had just murdered. An FBI inquiry found no improper actions by the arresting cops.

Look-- I'm a professional cop, and I've NEVER given a late hit on an arrestee. I don't advocate it, and I never will. But in these situations-- both of which would have merited deadly force-- I frankly wouldn't have been too critical of the occasional fist or boot to the noggin of the bad guy.

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69 years ago today,

...a not-yet-post-industrialized society freaked out over a fairly realistic broadcast of a dramatization of War Of The Worlds, confusingly adapted by Orson Welles from a story written 30 years before by H.G. Wells.

Although the audience had tuned in to hear the radio drama show Mercury Theatre On The Air, they apparently didn't get that this was part of the drama.

Keep in mind that this nation was largely made up of people who were not fully educated, and that coast-to-coast syndicated radio was brand-spanking-new. Newspapers were still the way news was passed, for the most part, carrying stories off the telegraph. Farces on the radio hadn't been foisted before. Agrarian types loaded up the shotguns, and city types got ready to get out of the city. (Car radios, a specialty item available for an extra $110, were almost unheard of at that time.)

This led to good ol' boys across the land speculating on how they'd show 'em, but good. That led, in its own way, to the excellent-yet-raw film Red Dawn, which compelled folks to consider how they would have dealt with a massive Communist invasion of North America, almost half a century later.

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Recipe: Migas


There are recipes that are part of your heritage. Foods that you cannot consider never tasting again, because you grew up eating them, and they are part of the basis by which you define life.
 
Migas is one of those for me.
 
I've never looked at a recipe for Migas, and don't need to; it's as simple as making a PBJ sandwich. As with a PBJ, however, there are plenty of variations to the theme. NONE of them are wrong, so long as you have two basic ingredients in your Migas: scrambled eggs and corn tortillas.
 
When I met the girl from Corpus Christi, TX who was to become my wife, I made Migas one Saturday morning for her, and she said, "That's not Migas!" Somehow it was different from how she remembered it, and 15 years later neither she nor I can recall what that difference was. We learned that we liked each others' variations on the theme, and realized that there was a basic, hearty simplicity to the dish. I learned it from my mother (who hails from Alamagordo, NM, and my father (who grew up in El Paso, TX).
 
Start with a big skillet. I like my big cast iron black skillet, but I just made it five minutes ago with my big no-stick Caphalon skillet that Chris and I just got for our birthdays (Thanks, Dad and Holly!), and it was a cinch.

Migas (Serves 2 heartily):
 
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil. (Any kind.)
5 eggs, fresh and in the shell.
4 or 5 corn tortillas, raw.
1-3 cloves of garlic, or a 1/2 to 1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder.
1/2 large onion, sliced thin.
2 - 4 jalapeƱos, sliced.
--Put a couple of tablespoons of oil in. Get it medium-hot, and spread it around the pan.
--Tear up a few corn tortillas into the pan. You can cut 'em into strips, but I generally just tear them into pieces about the size of poker chips. If the eggs are large, tear in another tortilla.
--Stir the tortillas around in the hot oil to get a coating. Salt 'em a little.
--Toss in a little sliced onion.
--Put some garlic in there. I like to squeeze in a couple of cloves.
--Once the onions are cooking and the tortillas have begun to golden and have some crisp to the edges, stir in your eggs. Don't bother mixing them up in a bowl first-- just crack 'em right into the pan on top of your tortillas, oil, onions, and such. It's okay if the eggs start to cook before your start to scramble them-- this is a very heterogeneous dish, and the variance in texture is a Good Thing.
--Finally, as you're scrambling the eggs together, toss a couple of sliced jalapeƱos in there. Canned or fresh, it doesn't matter.

--When the eggs are fully cooked, turn off the heat. If you want to over-complicate things, this would be a good time to grate a little cheese (cheddar or Monterrey jack-- it doesn't matter) over it to melt. Serve on big plates with hot flour tortillas and a pool of hot picante sauce, preferably with a cup of hot black coffee.
 
But seriously-- you could get by with just the eggs, tortillas, a dash of salt and a dab of oil.
 

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Agog.



I'm no expert.
I'm just a guy who carries a gun all the time.


Good. Lord.

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Maligned yet again.

Ambulance Driver questions my funk-itude whilest directing traffic.

Why, I'll have you know that, when standing in the middle of the four-way stop intersection and side-stepping between two loaded gravel trucks roaring by-- while still motioning to traffic on one side and holding it up on the other-- I was told that I looked like I had all the moves to the Souja Boy "Crank Dat" dance down, and oughta try out as a walk-on for the
Longhorns football team.

So there. [Yo.]

[I'm reasonably sure that if I got a certain giant bald-headed fireman to do the dance with me, we could raise a LOT of money for the city emergency services departments. People would pay, just to laugh at us.And throw rotten fruit. (which might appear redundant.)]

But I don't direct traffic like this any more, because it gets my uniform and white gloves too dirty. Highly unprofessional, don'tcha know.

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Deadly parenting.

Mom gives some insight from the perspective of a retired Child Protective Services caseworker into how children go emotionally dead before they physically die.

Yeah, it's tough stuff to read, but it's interesting, and it's fairly brief. Worth the read.

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Traffic.

I come from a small town, originally. Actually, "town" is an over-statement; it was a place where a few hundred people lived, and had a couple of churches, a service station, a post office, a school, and a small grocery store. The big intersection was where a state highway intersected a Farm To Market road, and only the FM had stop signs. The biggest traffic snarl that we ever saw in my town as a kid was the 10 minutes preceding the late bell at the elementary/junior high school every morning, and the 10 minutes after school let out every afternoon. Trains would cause backups, but only until the caboose went by (when was the last time I saw a working caboose?).

We would occasionally head into Big City, where the traffic was legend. To hear folks talk about it, you would be bumper-to-bumper at 80 miles per hour for the first half of your trip, and stop-and-go (mostly stop) for the second half.

As I grew up and learned to drive, I took a special pride in my ability to drive in Big City traffic on my forays into the maw of post-industrial urbanized hell. I wasn't just some country bumpkin-- I could drive with the big boys. I never subscribed to the whole concept that "you have to drive like them, or you'll never get anywhere, and you'll get into an accident." I was told repeatedly that you had to hug the bumper of the car in front of you, or you would be cut off repeatedly. But that seems like a good way to cause a rear-end collision, so I've always held to the concept that we need a goodly following distance. Cut in in front of me, and I'll have to increase it for your rear bumper, too, I guess.

Following even just a little closely doesn't get you there faster-- it slows the whole process down. Attend me: If you have to tap your brakes the second that you see that you're beginning to close the distance with the car preceding you, then the cars behind you have to tap their brakes when they see your brake lights. It creates a chain reaction behind you that results in stop-and-go traffic. Literally, if everyone just left enough room to coast to a slower speed rather than hitting their brakes every time, we could mostly eliminate stop-and-go traffic. Yes, I would HAPPILY rather go 30mph on a highway than stop and go. Make that 20mph.

Then there are the minor fender benders. Usually they're caused by hugging someone's bumper and not being able to stop in time when they hit the brakes, but occasionally they're caused by bad passing. (More on lane changes in a minute-- I've got a bone to pick on signalling.) People have these little "meetings" in the middle lane of the interstate, and then get out and stand there looking at their crumpled bumpers. For half and hour! It's a minor fender-bender, people! NOT a fatality accident! Get your asses over to the shoulder of the road to exchange insurance. Guy in front: Wave to the guy in back, and point to the shoulder or to the next exit, and slowly pull off the road with the other guy. If he doesn't follow you, get on the cell and report his butt-- he's not getting far. The traffic law in Texas requires that you clear the road if possible. Do it, before you cause another accident. Please.

Then there's the folks that have to look at the accident. Look, if it's in your lane, or you have to drive around it, then by all means slow down for safety. But if it's not in your lane or worse, it's on the other side of the freeway across the divider, keep your attention to your own lane and keep moving, please. There are few things more irritating than being in stop-and-go traffic caused by gawkers looking at the wreck across the median. Oh, wait: I just thought of one: being in STOPPED traffic caused by the rear-end collisions caused by the gawkers looking at the traffic accident on the other side is more frustrating.

All of this may make me sound like I'm a really frustrated driver, given to fits of road rage. Actually, no. If somebody cuts me off and I can tell that they just didn't see me, I probably don't even honk my horn except to tell them that I'm there to avoid a collision. I'm human. They're human. I've sure screwed up like that before, and wanted a hole to climb into; I assume most of those people do, too. Chasing them down to yell at them really doesn't make me happy. Would it make anyone so?

But what's the deal with turn signals? Most automobiles built in the last half century have a device built into the steering wheel column that sticks out on the left side of the wheel. By extending the left pinkie finger, the driver may actuate that device down (I.E., in the counter-clockwise direction of the wheel) to signal a left turn, and up (I.E., in the clockwise direction of the wheel) to signal a right turn. The laws of every state in the United States, to the best of my knowledge, require the use of a turn signal some distance prior to turning or changing lanes. In Texas, the Traffic Code requires that the turn signal be displayed continuously for at least 100 feet prior to making the lane change or turning. Is your light burned out? No problem: the Traffic Code provides for that, too-- they're called hand signals.

But people don't use them, as they weave through the heaviest of traffic.


Why? Is it just too. Much. Trouble. . . to stick out your itty bitty wittle finger, and waggle it up or down, and let the rest of us know what amazing maneuver you're about make next? Is it that you'd rather keep it a secret? I've actually had people tell me that they don't use their turn signal in heavy traffic because the driver behind them in the next lane over will speed up to keep them from changing lanes. Oh, good lord! Paranoid, much? I think most people just think they're too damned busy driving to be bothered with stupid little technicalities like signals. Clue: The fact that the traffic is so busy that it requires all your concentration should tell you that signalling your intent to change lanes would be a good idea.


_ _ _


I see that John B had a little road rage the other day.


This is not to be confused with escalator rage, but they have kindred emotions.

Then there is Traffic Direction Rage. I felt a twinge and saw a brother officer feel some of that once or twice the other day.

Like many little towns in the area, our little town had a little autumn event. In my day, we had honest-to-Gawd Halloween carnivals, but now we tend to call them Fall Festival. (Ow. It hurts my head when I roll my eyes that hard.) So part of this event involved getting some crosswalks established across a heavily-used state highway during drive-home time. I got to stand in the middle of the intersection of a state highway and a heavily-traveled farm-to-market road from 1600 to 1800, using my hands to urge vehicles to stop, turn, or drive through the stop intersection without stopping, while my brethren acted as crossing guards. As traffic stacked up almost a mile up the road, I began urging traffic through faster and faster, and holding up the crosswalks for longer periods of time.



It had been a few years since I had really had to do any complicated traffic direction, and I took a few minutes to get back into it. One thing I learned early on is: NEVER urge one lane to move without your other hand up to halt the intersecting lane. So, though I was slightly inefficient to begin with, I never created a dangerous situation.

After a while, I hit my stride. Full-arm movements. Large gestures that could be seen and interpreted from blocks away. Faster movements to signal that I wanted them to speed up. Head nods with my straw Stetson to let them know that I saw them. Head shakes to let people when I would not let them go someplace where they wanted to go. Significant pointing at cars to let the drivers know that the next gesture was directed at you, Sir.



But what kept getting me, over and over again, was the people that would try to turn when I gestured for them to move straight ahead, because that was where they had intended to go all along, but nobody else knew this... because they hadn't turned on their turn signal. Often this was accompanied by cell phone use. They would pull out into the intersection and turn... into a crosswalk full of kids.

I have a baritone speaking voice, for the most part, but when the volume goes up, the pitch rises a bit as well, to tenor. "Stop" becomes "STOP!"

Occasionally I would loudly say "Turn signals!" and the drivers would sometimes glance at me in annoyed incomprehension.


Sometimes, I might have been heard to say, "Hang up, and use your turn signals!"


My partner at one of the crosswalks, having warned the kids in the crosswalk to avoid yet another car that had turned into the crosswalk without using turn signals, would scream at them: "Hang up and learn to drive! Ever heard of turn signal?" It got worse from there. He was very unhappy with the drivers. Well, so was I, too, with some of them.

But I smiled, and thanked people who had sat in traffic for their patience.

Hard to do. When you're dodgin' traffic, and so are the kids, it's hard to show social graces.

But worth it. More on that, later.

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Bittersweet.

Lawdog tells well the story of an old man who finds his way home.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

More on pistols...

From comments:
"Thanks for the great advice y'all. I'm still working on accuracy--I can reliably hit a 9" target at 25' slow fire with my Glock 23 (which seems to conceal well in the small of my back under an untucked polo or Hawaiian shirt) but I'm nowhere near comfortable with draw-and-fire yet. Practicing draw-and-fire at the range just doesn't seem safe. Will training with an empty weapon at home help?"
"Dry-firing," as it's called, is not only helpful-- it's mandatory.

1. Find a safe place with a wall that is safe. (If the unthinkable happens, where will that bullet end up? You want to know that it would be only embarrassing, not tragic.).

2. Unload your pistol by: removing the magazine, and THEN pulling the slide back sharply to eject the round.

3. Lock open the slide.

4. Double-check the chamber, by looking into it.

5. Triple-check the chamber, by feeling it with your little finger, with the muzzle pointed up.

6. Place your load in a safe place. Now, many people advocate putting the loaded magazine and Barney Bullet in another room. I happen to embrace reality. Put the load on a table in plain view. NOT in your pocket. NOT behind you. Place them in front of you, where you can see them at all times during the exercise. Thus you know exactly where your ammunition is while messing with your gun; you can SEE it.

7. Put away your other carry ammo. Got a spare magazine? Put it with the other ammo out of the gun.

8. Ideally, you have an empty spare magazine to put into the pistol for the right feel. If not, either unload one or do without. Using a loaded magazine in the pistol is NOT an option. Yes, the weight of an unloaded magazine is different from a loaded magazine. Learn to adapt. The almost empty pistol weighs different from the fully-loaded one, too. BFD.

9. Check it again. Unloaded? Good.

10. Place the cocked pistol in your holster/carrying position.

11. Find a good aiming point across the room. Door knobs are good. Light switches are great. So is your duty load, sitting on the table across the room and out of reach.

12. Start with your hands across your body, preferably clasping each other.

13. Draw smooooooothly. By the numbers: Grip pistol with shooting grip. Unsnap or release whatever retention device you have on the holster. Draw straight up and out of the holster. Begin moving the pistol forward, knocking the safety off as you put your support hand out. Place the pistol-holding hand into the open support hand. Align your sights with your target, placing your finger on the trigger. Press the trigger, following through with the sight picture all the way through the pull.

14. Continue scanning. Seriously, do NOT immediately re-holster.

15. Now, re-cock, and reholster and resecure the holster.

Do it again. A little faster. Try to get your draw set so that your sights are aligned by the time you look for them, on the target. Change targets. Try starting your draw with eyes closed.

If you're motivated, you can do this about 40 times while a Sunbeam coffee pot brews. Do it 10 more times for an even 50 every day.

Take the weekend off, and you get 250 a week.
1000 a month.

12,000 strokes a year.

THAT is how you build muscle memory.

Dry-fire at least 5 shots for every live round you fire in practice. You'll be shocked at how it improves your draw-and-fire.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Cornbread. It doesn't have to be complicated.

Well, my buddy LawDog is posting recipes, so I'll just post a tried-and-true recipe that we eat about weekly here at Casa G:

No-Flour Cornbread.

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup stone ground YELLOW cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon (rounded) salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
1 tablespoon shortening

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Melt the shortening in one 9 inch round iron skillet in the heating oven. Cast a little loose cornmeal into the bottom of the pan.
2. Stir the cornmeal, salt and baking soda together. Add the egg and buttermilk and mix well.
3. Remove skillet from the oven and pour the batter into the skillet, stirring the melted shortening into the batter.
4. Bake at 450 degrees F (230 degrees C) for 30 to 40 minutes.

Remove from oven when top of cornbread is brown and turn out on to a serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve immediately with real butter.

For double batches (I make 'em in my big cast-iron skillet), reduce the heat slightly and increase the time slightly.

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Funeral escort.


A thousand people doesn't sound like much.
But it is, in a town twice that size.
All those people add a heartwarming touch
Seen through the mourners' eyes.


At least a hundred kids in front of the school,
Each with a little flag to wave.
Making even those who are cynics as a rule
Believe there's something to save.


His life ended by a bomb at the road side.
He returns now to the place he knew best.
And our little town gathers in sorrowful pride
To see its son carried to his final rest.

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Because Nihilism is funny...

Check out Strindberg and Helium.

Haw.

My favorite is either this one, or this one.

If you're feeling bad about your life, keep in mind that it really is sometimes funny to laugh at yourself. Sometimes, yes, a cupcake can help.

Any site that can find fun in August Strindberg is all right with me.

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So fine....

42 degrees this morning with a light wind from the north, and dry sapphire skies with just the occasional cloud catching the rays of the rising sun this morning to fluoresce almost exactly like gold pyrite flecks in a large piece of lapis lazuli.

The coffee came out perfect this morning (scientific method or not, the quality varies from pot to pot, dammit.), and I fried up slices of my leftover cornbread alongside some farm-fresh eggs brought from my in-laws' chickens in my giant iron skillet. Butter the fried corn bread and drizzle some blackstrap molasses over it on a plate with a couple of fried eggs next to it, with a tall glass of cold milk, and you are guaren-damned-teed to make your 5 year-old and 9 year-old girls scowl at their breakfasts and proclaim "I don't want that!"

Philistines. They have no. Idea. How good....

So after I threatened them with bodily injury, they each took bites of the corn bread and of the whites of the eggs (they also don't appreciate the glory that is cornbread sopped in egg yolk. Where did I fail them, so? How do I right this wrong? ), and downed their milks. So, you know-- it'd be a sin to waste their breakfasts....

Dropped them off at school with their full-sized pumpkins. Yes, my girls' schools actually recognize Halloween. They ain't skeered. As I pulled out from my elder daughter's school, someone actually stopped to let me into traffic.

I sipped my coffee laced with a half teaspoon of molasses as I idled on home, and thought: "I made it through. This is what I wait all year for."

Damn, but I love October in North Texas. This is the antithesis of May.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Note to would-be gun writers:


I know that your publisher has hired their own art director and photographer. And I know that they think that they've got a great idea of how to get your face and the gun in the same shot, close, without looking too aggressive. I recognize that, especially when you're writing for a female market, you're trying to look guarded and ready, rather than in an attack mode.

But don't let yourself get bullied into putting yourself on the cover of an instructional book on self defense while posing in the Full Sabrina or even the Half Sabrina; it makes you seem a little less credible.

That is all.

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And then there's this.

Just in time to contribute to Halloween confusion...

It doesn't surprise me that someone would make such a costume. It surprises me that there would be an active market to sell them.

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Haiku # 8: Change Of Plans

Rain on my day off.
No range time for me today.
Entertaining guest.

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Tips on Concealed Carry

Hi Matt G--
...I've been reading your blog for a
while and I was hoping you could help me out with something. I recently bought my first handgun, took the concealed carry class, and now have my permit. Problem is, I really don't think I know what I'm doing when it comes to carrying a firearm for self-defense. The concealed carry class was very vague on that topic, and I caught some serious errors on topics they weren't vague on (for example, they told me that I SHOULDN'T notify an officer that I had a firearm until asked. The back of my carry permit says, in big letters, that I should). So I don't really trust them any more, and have no other good resource. Any advice?
I'm probably going to give you a lot more than you wanted, here, and a lot less.

First: What state are you in?

Second: I am not a lawyer, nor a professional trainer. I am a man who carries a gun for a living and for personal protection. I've made a study of firearms, and am more than a little bit interested in them. But you get what you pay for in this world, so take the following with a grain of salt:

I could quote you chapter an verse about Texas law on concealed carry, but I don't know if that's where you live. For example, if you are detained or asked for your identification by a peace officer in Texas and you are armed, you must present your Concealed Handgun License.

Packing Dot Org used to be the gold standard for good handgun law information, but it seems to be down right now. So go to HandgunLaw Dot US and try to find out everything you can about your requirements under the law. Really, you should read the black letter law of the statutes, codes, ordinances, etc that pertain to your carry and the application of use of force in your state. Do you have a duty to present your CHL? Do you have a duty to retreat before using deadly force? Do you have a requirement to keep it concealed, or can it be visible? What is "brandishing"? Are there ammunition requirements, loading requirements, requirements for holsters, cases, type of firearm, number of firearms, etc? Does your state have laws that supersede local ordinances forbidding carry? What are the places where carry is prohibited even with a CHL, if any?

These are damned important questions. You need to have the letter of the law printed out and available to you, preferably in your car or luggage. As you've seen, there are many misinformed people, and they can include instructors and cops.

For good tips on carrying concealed, I really would recommend that you go read
this thread at THR. Specifically pay attention to the concept of wearing the stiffest, heaviest belt that you can fit in your holster and pants. (hint: The first month of putting it on, you'll think you got one that was too stiff.)

Don't let anyone tell you that the gun you favor the most is wrong-- handguns are intensely personal issues. But at the same time, don't assume that someone else's choice is wrong just because yours works for you-- realize that there are many ways to skin a cat. For concealed carry, you need to realize that you're going to sacrifice shootability for carryability. Sure, you can circumcise a gnat at 40 paces with your 8 3/8" heavy barrel Super BlackHawk in .480 Ruger, and it will reliably put down a bull sperm whale, but what of it? You're not going to have it tucked in your Sparks Summer Special when you drop in the convenience store for a Slushy.
_ _ _
1.The most important issue for a concealed carry pistol is: reliability. If it doesn't go Bang every time, then what's the point? Why risk the potential liability of carrying a deadly weapon?

2.The next most important issue is carryability. If it's not something you'll find comfortable to carry, you'll almost never carry it. Carrying a pistol is inconvenient. It takes time. You have to dress accordingly. You will find yourself carrying that pistol a lot more if it's:
(A): Lightweight (read: under two pounds, and preferably in the 16 ounce or less range), and
(B): Thin.
Barrel length is only moderately important, and is actually far outweighed by butt profile. A short round butt on a gun with a long barrel is far easier to conceal than a big square butt on a short-barreled gun.

3. The next most important issue is shootability. Can you draw the gun and hit the center of a man-sized target twice at three paces reliably and quickly? Don't laugh: that's a serious question, and one that more people should ask themselves.

4. Finally, and least important (yet still important) is: is the gun powerful enough? If you pop someone with a .22 or a .25, and they find out about it, they might become annoyed with you. (Apologies to the late Jeff Cooper.) Find a pistol that fires as powerful a caliber as you can reliably shoot well, taking into account the above limitations. This is where intermediate calibers shine. 9mm, .38 Special, and even .380 acp are very good calibers to consider is small carry guns. I have heard people that I respect speak highly of the .32 H&R Magnum as a contender. Don't discount less common rounds like the .41 Long Colt, .44 Special, .45 Schofield, .38 S&W/.380-2Z, .32-20, the 9X18, etc.

Life is a trade-off. You may well want to reduce your power level to increase carriability. This is why a BUNCH of Baby Brownings have been sold and carried over the decades, and why for the last decade so many KelTec P32s have been sold.

_ _ _

--Get a good holster. If you carry your pistol in your pocket, get a good pocket holster. It not only makes it safer and makes the gun easier to deploy when needed, but it also protects the gun in your pocket.

--Wipe your gun off every day. Even if it's stainless.

--Don't get complacent about safety.
The Four Rules are always (ALWAYS) in effect. When you get home, put the gun up properly-- don't just kick it in the corner with your pants (if that's how you roll when you get home.). I don't care how long you've been around guns. I don't care how safe a gun you've got. I don't care that "you've checked it, and it's safe." You're one careless mistake away from a tragedy, and if you can't remember that, then don't carry. In fact, just leave the guns alone.

--Decide ahead of time what is the absolute point where you have to act. Don't wait until the situation arises, because while you're deciding, it's too late.

--If you're going to carry, carry every day. I don't have a crystal ball, and I can't predict when I'm going to get into a gunfight. If I'm wearing pants, I'm wearing a gun. This principle applies to seat belts. If I'm driving, I'm buckled in, because I can't know when I'm going to be hit by someone. Think of the gun as underwear.

--Go read
Marko's short riff on the responsibility of carrying-- he's got some good outlooks on it.

--Don't show your ass while carrying.

In short: Be responsible, and think ahead of time.

I know. It's a lot.

But you don't have to carry. If you choose not to, that's okay.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

EBay/Google Dumbassery.

I've always sort of admired eBay and Google. They've generally put out a superior product that renders a valuable service, and then they've harvested the profit that was theirs for the taking. eBay's was more patent, of course-- they take a simple cut of the ads placed on their site.

Google, on the other hand, offers a free product. They managed to get their cut from the front-end, by having such a high-visibility site that companies would actually pay Google for viewership on it.

One of those sites is eBay.

EBay has one very irritating drawback, though. Not only will they allow their subscribers to use the site to trade in firearms, they now disallow most firearm accessories. Well, yes, it's their site. But they're screwing with what they originally had, which was very near to the dream of near-perfect capitalism. And since they've injected their own politics into the issue, I can feel free not to patronize their site.

But see here what happens when eBay and Google team up to respond in their own commercial fashion to my search regarding the caliber found in the Winchester Model 7:

(Click to enlarge.)

Yowza! ".351 Winchester For Less"?!? Really?

Um, no.

Seems like, if they won't let you trade in the item, they wouldn't claim that they do. This speaks poorly of eBay, and of Google's algorithms.

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Haiku #6 -- Fog


Fog is dense this morn.
Speed only 10 miles over?
Press hard while signing.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Nifty adverts: Carteach points out a resource,

"Dadddddy!"
_ _ _
Dig a 911 call, circa 1913. Do you have any doubt that this burglar is plum had?

_ _ _

I'm not quite sure why they portray the Police Positive on the ground in this 1905 advert, but note that the big traw is that it won't be accidentally discharged. Huh. Weird. It goes bang every time you pull the trigger, on purpose.

_ _ _

Smith & Wesson hadn't yet really gotten into the nifty ads, in 1890, like Colt and Winchester had. But their revolvers, they claimed, were "As Perfect A Pistol As Can Possibly Be Made."

_ _ _

Speaking of Winchester, check out this ad in Life magazine in 1911, for their .351 M.1907.

Those were the days.


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If you've got a minute,

...drop by Sabra's place and lend her a kind word.

She's having a rough month.

It's so bad, I don't even have a pseudo-witty remark.

If you're into ER blogs, she has some suggestions to hospitals about how to treat mothers who are having miscarriages.

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I still want to be...

...a People Of The Gun, like Tamara. I've been asking Jeff almost as long as she has, but haven't yet gotten posted like she has. Star power, bay-bee.

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The coolest bit of live music that I've seen today.

Remember when ukuleles were widely thought to be kewl?

Well, neither do I.

Truthfully, they haven't been since Tin Pan Alley days. The uke has for my entire life been a kind of running joke, usually portrayed as being strummed badly by an overweight man.

But the truth is, a real musician can make that most portable of stringed instruments do some pretty amazing things. Put seven gifted musicians on a stage, mic up their bitty guitars, and watch what happens. Oh, and you have to grant that the musicians are, as ukulele players, not afraid of looking silly. Finally, have one of 'em (a buck says he's Welsh) have perfect pitch as a whistler.

I give you the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.

(Stay with it-- it starts off a little slow.)

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Give my regards to Roland, Bob.

Bob Denard, a French professional mercinary and lifelong thorn in the sides of many African governments and would-be governments (especially during the '60s and '70s), has passed on. He died in bed, however, rather than in a Biafra barroom or a battlefield.

No word on whether this has affected the sightings of wandering decapitated Tommy gunners.

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Not a misogynist. NOT.

Look, I probably hold women to higher standards than I do men. They don't have that testosterone poisoning that we do, which makes us want to solve simple problems (e.g.: "The neighbor's dog is crapping in my yard.") with complicated or at least complicating solutions ("I'll settle his hash!" Blam! Blam! Blam! "Is that bullhorn coming from a helicopter?"). Ladies see sex, conflict, and self worth very differently, on the average, than does a man. Usually for the better.

But, boy, when you run across the dumber ones... it'll put you into a spell of the cranky mumblings that people might misinterpret to think that you're judging all women, by the actions of a few.

"Grumble mumble grumble idiot couldn't find her mumble grumble if she used both hands and called Directory Assis... grumble, mumble... "

Exhibit A:

Dumb Woman: "Officer, I'm so glad you stopped."

Me: "Well, it seemed like the thing to do; you kept following me."

DW: "I need to report a Hit and Run."

Me: [Tensing to run out and stop the perpetrator, but then stopping myself.] "Where and how long ago did it happen? You've been following me for over three blocks."

DW: "It was over at that shop? You know, across from the school?"

Me: [After waiting a second for clarification and getting none.] "Which school? There are several. What shop?"

I finally dragged out of her which shop (only by establishing what they sell).

Me: "That's a couple of miles from here. How long ago did this happen?"

DW: "Oh, it was right before I dropped Junior off at school-- say about 7:50? Don't they ring the bell at 8:00? I just know we were running late."

Me: "Ma'am, it's almost 10:30 AM, now. Why are you just now reporting a hit and run, 2.5 hours after it occurred?"

DW: "I had to get Junior to school."

Me: [Putting that aside for the moment and noticing a tightness in my jaw I hadn't noticed earlier that morning.] "So how did this happen? Wait. Let me bring you a piece of paper to draw it out for me."

After I diagrammed the parking lot on one of the sheets of typing paper I always carry on my clip board for just such exigencies, I drew a compass rose to indicate "N" in the corner, labeled the road adjacent, and handed it to her, asking her to show me how the crash occurred. She rotated the clip board around, and around, and around, and asked what the "Z" meant (seriously), and said that she couldn't make heads or tails of the diagram, and didn't know where everything was. I pointed out buildings, parking lot entrances, and streets. I may not be Michelangelo, but I've been drawing crash sketches for a large fraction of my existence on this earth, and I'm pretty competent at it.

I wondered not aloud whether this woman should be driving at all. Ever.

By doing something akin to the
Sullivan/Keller exercise ("Yes! That's water, Helen!") where I took my pen and carefully outlined the articles on the sketch while she held the clipboard (that was important, apparently), I actually directed the pen in her hand to items in the parking lot to areas around the property, I got her oriented.

(Now that looks like a snark at Helen Keller. It's not. Helen Keller was one of the smartest people who ever lived. She, even with her being deaf and blind, would have understood the diagram faster, and would have conveyed to me how the crash had occurred more concisely. And, to look at the numerous dings and bits of body damage on this lady's car, would have been a better driver.)

So I established that she had gotten backed into by another car in the parking lot. She then pulled into the spot next to it, and watched the other car begin to back away. She went to great trouble to describe the car, and the kid in the back seat, and even the driver, which was helpful. I asked her the make of the car, but that was an exercise of sheerest optimism. She did, however, finally, as an afterthought, after I had asked twice whether she had it, present me with the license tag number that she had written down.

I asked her what she had done when the other car drove away.

DW: "I called my husband, of course!"

Of course.

Me: "On your cell phone?"

DW: "Yes. I could still see the car driving away, and wanted to know what to do."

Me: "Where did the car go?"

DW: "Oh, it got in line to drop of the kid at the school."

Me: "The kid in the car? He goes to school here in town?"

DW: "Yes."

Me: "And you saw the other car drop off the kid. How long did it take to drop a kid off and leave?"

DW: "Well, because I had to call my husband, I was about 10 places back of her, but it was busy, so I guess about 4 or 5 minutes."

Me: "Tell me again why you didn't call the police?"

DW: "Well, I didn't know what to do. And I didn't have your number."


Me: "You didn't know the number to 911?"

DW: "Well, I didn't think I should, you know..."

Me: "Ma'am, for a Hit & Run in progress, calling 911 is completely appropriate."

Sensing an accident report in my future, I asked for her driver license and insurance document. She produced a card with the name of a man she identified as her husband on it. I noticed the discrepancy between her license address and her insurance, and asked if she had moved recently.

"No, we moved 2 years ago," she said, looking at me like I was a fool for not knowing this.

"Okay, you might want to go notify the D.P.S. of your current address, so that you don't get a citation from someone," I said helpfully. Texas law requires you to notify of change of address within 30 days of moving. No, I had no intention of writing her for it, but someone might, so I thought I would just let her kn...

D.W.: [Aghast] "You're going to give me a ticket?!? I'm the victim! What did I do wrong?!?"

Me: "No, ma'am, I was just..."

D.W.: "I can't believe this! Some horrible person almost kills me, slams into me, and you want to write me a ticket!" she was warming up to the subject, so I raised my voice.

Me: "Ma'am! I am not writing you a citation for anything, here."

She immediately calmed down, and said in a self-satisfied tone, "Well I'm glad you came to your senses," she said tritely. "I'm the victim, after all. If you're not going to write me a ticket any more, may I have my stuff back," she said as she gestured toward the license and insurance card that I still held, forgotten, in my hand.

"Uh, sure. Let me just get your information written down for my report," I said, transcribing quickly. "So you now live at this address?" I referred to the address on the insurance card.

"Nooo." She was completely unable to hide her disgust at my stupidity. "That's my husband's address."

The address was only 5 miles away. "You are estranged from your husband, then?"

"No, we are divorced, for the last 5 years," she said slowly, as if to an idiot child.

"Have you remarried?" I asked. Oh, trust me. I knew it really had no bearing on anything, but I just wanted to know how much I was understanding. Or misunderstanding. Whatever.

D.W.: "No."

Me: [Pondering] "So it was your ex-husband that you called while the other driver drove away, rather than calling 911."

D.W.: "Well, yes. Of course." [Surprised that I hadn't realized that from the start.]

I disengaged as fast as possible.
_ _ _
Exhibit B:


Later that day, I was typing up a report at the P.D. when Dispatch notified me that I had a "Meet Complainant" call at the P.D.

"Uh, I'm right here," I reported. "The door's unlocked."

"She says that she's been parked out front for 10 minutes but can't find anyone," the dispatcher advised. I had been working on paperwork in the office by the front door for half an hour. I opened the door and saw an older woman pensively smoking in a small sedan out front.

"Uh, show me on scene," I told Dispatch.

"There you are!" chided the older woman as she got out of her car.

"How can I help you?" I asked as I held open the front door for her to come into the P.D.

"You can tell me why you arrested my grandson today!" she announced.

"Ma'am, I haven't made an arrest today. And if I'm not mistaken, neither has any other officer with my police department today, because we've had no arrests today. What's your grandson's name?" I asked as I opened a computer browser to the public website to look up the boy's name. "How old is he?" I asked, figuring that it was possible that he wasn't even on the public site, because he was obviously a young teenager, and would be in the juvenile system.


"26," she said.

I was aghast. She went on. "I already paid his tickets with y'all last month! You shouldn't have put him in jail for them!"

"He's in jail for traffic citations?" I asked as the page came up. Yep, Mid-Sized City P.D. had arrested him for warrants issued on unpaid traffic citations out of our city an hour and a half before. Before I looked up his history, I asked if he had been to jail before.

"Oh, my word, yes. Y'all just won't leave him alone! I've had to bail him out 5 times this year. It's not his fault that he gets in trouble-- he has A.D.D."

What do you say to that? I pulled up his history, and saw that A.D.D. had caused him to be arrested for stealing, for driving with a suspended driver's license, for possessing dope, and for driving while intoxicated. Damn those bastard cops, and double-damn the greedy drug companies for charging too much for Ritalin!

I wondered why she was in such a hurry to get him out. "Does he have a job?" I asked.

"Yes!" She said as she beamed proudly. "He starts next week. As a matter of fact, yesterday we got the judge from another charge to postpone his upcoming court appearance so that he could go to work."

"But he's not working now, so..." I began, thinking to suggest that he sit out the tickets for a few days, and also thinking that she would learn that her darling grandson wouldn't just waste away to nothing if he spent a night in hoosegow for his own actions or failures to act.

"A.D.D.! I told you! It's not his fault that he can't keep a job! Plus, with you people always putting him in jail, it's hard for him to keep a job, anyway. He gets depressed," she accused.

"Well," I said, turning around from the computer, "He's never been in our system, so we don't have any information on him. I guess that he just didn't pay his tickets."

"But you put a warrant out for him!" she accused.

"No ma'am, that was the municipal court that issued the warrant, after he failed to appear," I said.

"Well, I'll pay right now for those tickets --but I could swear that I paid for them last month-- so you can let him out," she said, reaching into her purse.

"You'll need to discuss that with the municipal court clerk," I said. "But he can't get out until he's been bonded out at the jail."

"Can't you just call and have him let go?" she asked. "After all-- it's not his fault. I was the one who didn't pay his tickets."

I sat there astounded. "No, ma'am. He has to stay arrested until he posts bond to appear in court, or until a judge orders him released. Aren't you tired of bonding out a 26 year old man?"

She pursed her lips, nodded, and said, "I sure am! Why can't you just leave him alone? Can't you see that it's hard enough on him as it is?"

"I'm sure it is," I said, as I held open the door for her to leave. "Good luck ma'am. Buh bye."

_ _ _
And so on.

My whole day went like that. I had to run over to the municipal court to calm down a mother who was lambasting the court clerk who had the audacity to demand that her own 25 year old son (who was not present) honor the payment plan that he had signed to pay for his citations for driving without driver license, insurance, etc. The fact that her son had a much sought-after professional tradesman's license, a job, and a meth habit didn't seem to make her see why she shouldn't act as the sole point of contact on her little sonny boy's city court case.

I went to knock on the front door of a house where I found a three year-old playing unattended in the street. He was stopping traffic, literally. The mother complained that I was sticking my nose in where it didn't belong, and then got mad at me when I asked for her full name and date of birth, along with the child's. Hell yes, a report was going to be made.

I finished my day with a phone call from a woman who wanted advice on how to get her kid back from her ex-husband. There had been no custody agreement, because they hadn't been officially married. He wanted his car back from her before he would give her back their child. She, who didn't have a driver's license, didn't want to give him the satisfaction. He just wanted the car, she said, so that he could sell it to buy more meth before he went to prison in two weeks. He had an appointment to check himself into custody to serve his 2 year felony sentence, she said.

"Sounds like a civil issue to me," I said. "Consult a family law attorney, and get a property judgement and a custody order." I hung up as fast as I could.
_ _ _

I love women. I think womanhood is admirable, and the best people that I know are women. I love and respect my wife and my mother, among many, many wonderful ladies. I am bringing up two girls who I know will become respectable, great ladies.

But man, did I meet a BUNCH of dingbats, the other day.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

A bunch of garbage.

Hey! You keep your car clean and neat.

Good job!

But then I see you flipping the napkin from your burrito out the window.

Or your Jumbo Death Gulp cup.

Or your cigarette butts.

Or your beer cans.

Or your (ew) plastic Dr. Pepper bottle full of spit from the dip you've been working on all day. (again I say: Ew!)

I was talking to a German girl who was disgusted with Texas. "Efryvun t'rows deir karpage on de grund!" she lamented.

As a fairly hard core Native Texan, I immediately jumped to the defense of my beloved, maligned native land. But... damn. She was right. It's frickin' disgusting. I have no idea if she was hypocritical-- I've never had the opportunity to judge the roadsides and lands of Deutschland, so... scoreboard for the didactic Teutonic harpy.

But damn, people! Don't even begin to take a bit of pride in your neat auto, if it means that you've been dumping your crap out.

And don't give me the slightest modicum of crap if you find yourself stopped and cited for it. Please.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Watch This Space

Friends, Romans, Countryman, Gentle Readers:



I know I've been remiss. Here I've got the best and most loyal readership this blog's ever had:

...and I'm lettin' you down on content.

But never fear, Sweet Clean Good Strong Gentle Reader-- I've got Content with a capital K coming up!

I've got snark on shootings.

I've got denials of misogyny.

I've got a rebuild of an old derisive post on dumb pistol marketing ideas.

All this and more!

--Right after I finish my damned Research Methods test.

Stay tuned and remember: Keep Watching The Skies!

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Monday, October 08, 2007

This is news?

Apparently it just got released that the U.S. government "considered" using radioactivity (the alpha particles, not the explosions) as a weapon.

Well, duh.

We dropped two atomic BOMBs.

Heinlein had suggested this back in... what? 1939? 1940?

Not a new concept.

The U.S. was considering new methods of assassination in the dawning years of the Cold War?

Not a new concept.

I suppose it might be news that the government opened its books on the issue for the first time. But it would be the admission that was news, not the fact. Sort of like if Israel officially confirmed that it has nuclear weapons.

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I'm sorry.

You may have noticed an absence in my posting lately.

Some of that's because I'm kind of busy in Meatspace.

But really, I'm preoccupied with guilt.


  • I'm offensive.
  • I'm insensitive.
  • I sometimes speak without thinking.
  • With some frequency, I make jokes that offend people who don't find them funny.
  • I forget to say "Thank you."
  • I forget to remember (redundant, but I need the redundancy) to honor people I know and respect.
  • I think that I'm right, and refuse to admit that I'm wrong about things I clearly don't know very much about. Worse, I'll sometimes tell the person that does know about the subject that they're wrong.
  • I get angry and say things I shouldn't and don't immediately apologize.
  • I needle people sometimes, just to goad.
  • I question if I'm a very good person.
  • I suspect a lot of the time that I'm not a very good friend, relative, or loved one.

And I really am sorry for that.

I don't say this to ask for atonement or forgiveness or to have people tell me that it's okay or I'm a good a guy; I think I know the real score. I don't actually hate myself.

But I sure am sorry.

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

"Maybe something bad! Maybe something good!"

Don Gwinn pushed the beautiful, shiny, jolly, candy-like History Eraser Button.
Oh, no.....!

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Making great first lines with the crap that falls around you.

Atomic Nerds, if you haven't gone to see, is an irreverent couple of science geeks (Labrat and Stingray) out west. They've got take on things worth checking out, including my favorite yearly contest, the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. The goal of the contest is to produce the best first line for the worst book never written. They break it up into categories. For the reader with a sense of humor, it's deliciously terrible. And even if you have a short attention span, it's worth the trip. Seriously-- they're literally one-liner jokes.

Well, our friend Stingray has found that this is the best way to make sense of really stupid search strings that refer people to their site.

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If Crystal's day was so bad, then...

...why am I laughing so hard?

(Profanity warning.)

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Ever wonder about giraffes, and their stubby horns?


Well, I have. I mean, what's less scary than a Toys R Us spokesman, right?

Turns out, they actually try to use those little nubby horns on each other. As usual, news media misidentify yet another set of weapons, captioning this as a fight in which giraffes use their necks against each other.
(Note: Edited so that the link now works. Interesting video!)

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Sure. You just go right ahead

...and adopt one of Michael Vick's fighting pit bulls.

Let's take a volatile breed, raise a stock of specimens which are selected for ruthless fighting, mistreat them, teach them to fight, and then try to place them as somebody's family pet.

Or make them a police dog. (Nice.)

Who the hell are these "experts"? They are a "team of dog behavioral experts assembled by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals." Evidently, their certifications were made available with a purchase from Frito Lay Corp.

Look, I'm not actively trying to ban the breed altogether. While I have no use for pit bulls, and am constantly tired of having everything from a shar pei to a chihuahua on the loose described to me by frantic citizens as "a mad pit bull," I'm not trying to put them all down. In enclosures? Yes. Down? Not necessarily.

But here, we've got dogs selected to fight. Mistreated, so they'll fight. Okay, okay, if you want to drink the Kool-Aid of those who claim "pit bulls aren't all fighting dogs!" then, fine. You do that. But this particular subset of 'em sure was.

It's not their fault. I understand that.

But they're not human beings. We have options available to us.

Put them down cleanly, and humanely. And prosecute folks that intentionally breed fighting dogs to fight.

Because I'll tell you right now, if those dogs get placed, someone will get hurt because of it. And I will without hesitation immediately put down those 70 dogs preemptively, rather than risk one little girl's face.

Why are people overthinking this?

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