An Admission of Murder?

According to this news story, the attorney representing Minneapolis police officer Jeronimo Yanez claims Officer Yanez saw that Philandro Castile was carrying a gun, and in reaction to “the presence of that gun and the display of that gun,” he shot and killed Castile. Of course, there may be other information that has not yet come to light, but if one takes this explanation at face value, it sounds like Officer Yanez murdered Mr. Castile.

The statement made by the attorney doesn’t allege that Mr. Castile had drawn the gun, much less that he was pointing it at anybody; simply that it was visible. In this case, it appears that it was perfectly legal for Mr. Castile to carry a gun, but that’s not actually relevant. You do not get to kill somebody just because they have a gun, regardless of whether or not it’s legal for them to have it. If the simple presence of a gun was enough to justify killing someone, then anybody could go to the local shooting range and kill everyone there. Or, for that matter, they could shoot any police office they see.

Imagine, just for a moment, what would have happened if the situation had been reversed. Suppose that Officer Yanez had been off duty, and Mr. Castile had not known who he was. Officer Yanez started to get something out of his wallet, and Mr. Castile got a glimpse of the gun that he undoubtedly carries. If Mr. Castile had shot and killed Officer Yanez in that situation, does anybody think that this excuse would be accepted? Or that he would be walking around free while the police decide whether or not the shooting was justified?

 

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On this day…

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

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Worst mass shooting in U.S. history? I call bullsh*t.

Contrary to the narrative that’s being bandied about by the press, I can name four mass shootings, just off the top of my head, that each had many more victims than Orlando. In chronological order they are:

  1. Bear River, Idaho – 1863.
  2. Sand Creek, Colorado – 1864.
  3. Wounded Knee, South Dakota – 1890.
  4. Waco, Texas – 1993.

There are probably others that I’m forgetting. Interestingly, each of these mass shootings was carried out with actual weapons of war. Unlike Omar Mateen, whose gun only looked like a military weapon.

 

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Mother Nature got thoroughly drunk last night

And this was the result (click to embiggen):

Snow in late MarchBefore today, we were having high temperatures in the mid-60s.

Sally was no doubt wondering why we were suddenly having snow again. She had to go out and explore.

Sally Exploring in the Snow

Sally finished exploring“Okay, that’s enough exploring. I’m going back inside where it’s warm.”

 

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Journalism FAIL

By now you’ve probably all heard about the controversy surrounding Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. And whatever else might eventually result, the one thing that has unquestionably come out of this law is a rather incredible amount of bad reporting. Just to pick the first ten examples I found, here are stories about his law from Associated Press, Reuters, CS Monitor, Washington Post, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, CBS, Los Angeles Times, and NY Times. If you take the time to read all of these articles (and you have my sympathy if you do), you should have little trouble spotting something that every one of these stories has in common: not one of them quotes, or has a link to, the actual text of the law.

We’re not talking about a monstrosity like the Affordable Care Act, which nobody can read without an enormous commitment of time and loss of sanity. The RFRA is about a page long and quite easy to understand. Nor was it hard for me to find. Yet the overwhelming majority of stories I’ve seen from the professional news media present only opinions about the law, without including the facts – the text itself.

Is this omission the result of massive incompetence on the part of the professional news media? From what I’ve seen in my fifty years of life, I’d rate that as a very strong possibility. But I also have to wonder, how many of those reporters are hoping their readers will simply accept the opinions of others, rather than reading the law for themselves and making up their own minds?

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If you’re not doing anything wrong…

…you shouldn’t have anything to hide. That’s the argument, right? But then I read what James Clapper told the Washington Post yesterday. It sure sounds like he thinks he’s got a lot to hide. As do Congressman Mike Rogers (R MI) and Senator Diane Feinstein (D CA).

 

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Non-human Archaeology

Not, in this case, meaning the archaeology of extraterrestrial or other non-human societies, but archaeology by non-humans. Specifically, dolphins. According to the story here, a team of U.S. Navy dolphins being trained to locate mines found instead a Howell torpedo dating to 1889. The Howell was the first self-propelled torpedo used by the U.S. Navy – previously, the term “torpedo” had been applied to a wide variety of bombs and mines that were stationary, free-floating, or mounted on the end of long spars and used for ramming.

It’s an impressive find, but for now I’m still not too worried about being replaced by a dolphin. The sites I excavate are generally on land, plus the fact that I have hands does give me a bit of an advantage.

 

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Does this make me an international arms smuggler?

Given my professional interest in the development of technology, it should come as no surprise that I’ve been following Cody Wilson’s project to design a working firearm that can be produced on a 3d printer. For anyone not paying attention, Wilson succeeded in test firing his “Liberator” pistol a few days ago and posted the CAD files for anyone to download. Yesterday, the U.S. State Department ordered him to take the files down, claiming possible violations of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations. In other words, the United States government is asserting that Wilson’s printable firearm, capable of firing only a handful of rounds before wearing out, is a secret defense technology that must be prevented from falling into the hands of any non-U.S. citizens who might be browsing the web. This despite the fact that, before they acted, those files had already been downloaded more than 100,000 times by people all over the world, and that they had also already been uploaded to Pirate Bay. As of this writing, the CAD files for the Liberator pistol can be accessed here. Clearly, somebody at the State Department saw a cloud of dust disappearing in the distance and started frantically looking around for a barn door to shut.

I have made no secret of the fact that I am both a supporter of civil liberties and a strong opponent of idiocy in government, both of which motives have prompted me to write this post. Having tried (and failed) to suppress a small caliber pistol of no conceivable military value, the State Department will no doubt now display even greater alarm at my posting here of technical drawings for a much more powerful weapon; one that has proven military value and has, in fact, been used on the battlefield by the U.S. Army, among others. I present to you now the official patent drawings for Richard Gatling’s famous machine gun (click to enlarge):

 

Gatling Gun Patent Drawing 1862

Gatling Gun Patent Drawing 1862

 

Further information, including a full technical description of this deadly weapon, can be found here, courtesy of the infamous weapons smuggling ring known as Google Patents.

 

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I’m Not Dead Yet

Nor have I been silenced by agents of Lucasfilms. I’ve just been busy and distracted by other things. However, I’ve neglected this blog for far too long and I should be back to posting again shortly.

 

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It’s the end of the world as we know it

And I feel fine.

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