More handgun mayhem.

A recent case regarding whether an Oregon school teacher could bring her handgun to school has been decided:

Shirley Katz, who has a legal permit to carry a concealed handgun, argued she needed the Glock semi-automatic pistol to protect herself from her ex-husband. She sued the school district when it told her carrying a gun was against a district policy prohibiting guns.

Circuit Judge G. Philip Arnold agreed with the district, saying “The District has a right to enforce this policy.” he noted that employees “accept their jobs subject to, and knowing, the policy.” – [Yahoo/Reuters]

Well now. That’s too bad. I can sympathize with the need for the district to remain in control. But this ruling won’t prevent any disgruntled students, irate ex-husbands, explosive bearing gang members or crazed faculty from bringing firearms on campus either.

Unless the district installs metal detectors. And hires some really burly security guards. But of course they’d have to arm the security guards, ’cause they would be useless against an armed assailant if they didn’t have a projectile weapon of some sort. Like a taser. Or a firearm. Except your average taser has an average range of about 15 feet. And is single shot. Not much help against a firearm wielding opponent. Unless they are less than 15 feet in front of you, and you are a crack shot.

It seems to me that while the district seems to be ignoring the basic fact that these rules do not protect the ones who follow them. Only the ones who break them. They do not prevent anyone from bringing a firearm into the school, unless the rule is supplemented by active security measures, such as metal detectors and random spot checks that physically prevent them from being broken. And that just breeds an atmosphere of oppression. Not to mention that even those measures can be circumvented.

So what exactly is the point of such a restriction? At the end of the day, it seems entirely easier to just arm the teachers. It would be much, much cheaper, and orders of magnitude more effective. If not with firearms, then at least with tasers. Sticking ones head in the sand in a gunfight only guarantees that ones hind quarters will get shot off…

Teacher loses fight to take gun to class – [Yahoo/Reuters]

Laaaaaaaw, is a many splendored thiiiiiing… Not.

OK, forgive my musical refrain. I ran across an article today that kinda illustrated how important it is that the laws be objective, not morally motivated, and constantly revised to stay current with the changing times:

Dying in parliament is an offence and is also by far the most absurd law in Britain, according to a survey of nearly 4,000 people by a television channel showing a legal drama series.

And though the lords were clad in their red and white ermine cloaks and ambassadors from around the world wore colourful national costumes, at least nobody turned up in a suit of armour. Illegal. – [Yahoo/AFP]

Obviously many of these laws probably had some practical logic to them when they were made, and merely suffered from being too broad or too specific in scope. However the same is true of many of the laws on the books today. They are based on historical or social standards that are either obsolete or irrelevant today.

On the other side of the coin, there are laws placed on the books, that are simply poorly thought out. Most often emotional the result of knee-jerk reactions by over zealous lawmakers. For instance banning baggy pants? No tag in school? No hugs?!? Seriously, how is banning baggy pants supposed to reduce the crime rate of a city? (see <Dumb Laws.com> for a big list of really wacky laws… Fair warning, you may laugh yourself into oblivion :) )

But on a more serious note, the law has become a means for activists to push their own agendas, as opposed to protecting the society at large, and no, the two are not the same thing. An equitable legal system does not discriminate against anyone on the bases of race, color, creed, beliefs, etc, so it is absolutely ludicrous that any one should have to face prosecution simply because of their choice of clothes. What we are seeing is an abuse of the legal system. And it really needs to stop.

Die and you’re under arrest! Britain’s most stupid laws – [Yahoo/AFP]

Places that are unwise to rob. Armed or not…

I’ve probably mentioned before my theory about peoples lack of imagination causing them to do some not-so-bright things. Well, either I’m wrong, and this armed robber may actually have had a very vivid imagination, or I’m right and he just ain’t that smart:

A karate academy was not the best target for a robbery, a Colombian thief found when his attempt got the chop from practicing students, police said on Friday.

The robber was recovering in a hospital in Santander province north of Bogota after the martial artists used their combat skills and took away his gun. – [Yahoo/Reuters]

OK, so as I was saying, I can only assume this guy either “imagined” that he could walk into a karate academy and rob them at gunpoint, or wasn’t smart enough to look for an easier target. You make the call.

The wording of the article was funny though: “used thier combat skills”?? That’s putting it a little mildly isnt it? I mean, the man is recovering in a hospital ward! Sounds like he got a sound thrashing…

Gunman gets chop during karate robbery – [Yahoo/Reuters]

What kind of kids are we raising?

I think that America, as a culture, we have started down a long slippery slope towards self imprisonment. We are stripping away from ourselves the very freedoms we hold dear. I see it every day. Even in some of the most innocuous things:

On the playground of a northern Colorado Springs elementary school, tag is not “it.”

The touch-and-run game and any other form of chasing was banned this year at Discovery Canyon Campus’ elementary school by administrators who say it fuels schoolyard disputes.

“It causes a lot of conflict on the playground,” said Assistant Principal Cindy Fesgen. In the first days of school, before tag was banned, she said students would complain to her about being chased or harassed.

Fesgen said she would hear: “Well, I don’t want to be chased, but he won’t stop chasing me, or she won’t stop chasing me.” – [The Colorado Springs Gazette]

Is this what we want our kids to do? How do we expect our kids to learn anything about people and life, if every time they run into a problem we ban it wholesale? How are they going to learn how to deal with each other? Learn how to handle people and their idiosyncracies? When will they understand that not everything is going to go our way, and that not everything is under our control?

And even worse, how do we teach those kids what they can and cannot do? How do we teach kids that you cannot harass someone just because? Banning tag isn’t going to teach that. All this teaches them is if you don’t like it, get it banned. No tolerance, no patience, no  understanding. Nothing else will be learned by this action. The playground will have one less game, and the children will have one less avenue  to learn about others and themselves.

 Nationally, several schools have done away with tag and other games because of the accidents and arguments they can lead to. It’s a trend that has rankled some parents and childhood experts who say games such as tag contribute to children’s social and physical development. – [The Colorado Springs Gazette]

Apparently, even childhood experts can see the flaw in this way of thinking. And yet we have schools, communities, cities, states and even federal legislation that allow exactly the same thing to happen on a national level. What’s the betting that this is all fueled by the same mentality? People don’t seem to be able to see the big picture. It may sound like an unlikely slippery slope, but at the rate we are going, sooner or later, we will legislate ourselves out of our own personal freedoms.

Believe it or not. Your choice. But I have seen enough insanity to tell me that it’s possible. I can only hope we either come to our senses, or I’m not around when we finally lock ourselves in and throw away the key…

Springs elementary gives tag a timeout – [Colorado Springs Gazette]

Ice cream trucks sells coke as well…

Now i’m sure some of you have heard of (or seen) variations of this practice many, many times, and to some the idea may even be humorous to a degree. But in reality I find this practice very despicable:

An ice cream truck parked in front of a junior high school was offering up cocaine and marijuana along with the soft serve, police said.

A police search of the vehicle uncovered a loaded pistol along with the drugs, police said Friday after arresting 26-year-old Jermaine Jordan on charges including criminal possession of a weapon near a school and criminal sale of a controlled substance near a school. – [AP]

To me, the most heinous part about this is the possibility that he could have been selling drugs to kids. If an adult decides they want to spend their whole life high on drugs, you know, that is their choice. But I think it is the lowest of the low to hook a kid on any addicting substance. It’s kinda like kicking their feet out from under them before they’ve even started the race. Makes the hackles on the back of my neck stand on end…

 NYPD: Drugs Sold Out of Ice Cream Truck – [AP]

Yet another excuse to V-parent…

Technology is great, but is not the answer to everything. Especially not parenting. So I am always skeptical when I see things like this:

The Senate Commerce Committee approved legislation Thursday asking the Federal Communications Commission to oversee the development of a super V-chip that could screen content on everything from cell phones to the Internet.

“It’s an uphill battle for parents trying to protect their kids from viewing inappropriate programming,” Pryor said. “I believe there is a whole new generation of technology that can provide an additional layer of help for these parents.”

A third bill that aims to regulate violent content much the same as indecent speech is expected to be introduced soon. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., has plans to introduce the anti-violence bill, but it was unclear when. – [Reuters]

OK. For me, the biggest issue here is not what is or is not showing on the radio, TV, internet or other electronic media. It is the fact that we seem to keep coming up with new ways to “help” parents control what their kids watch, when the truth of the matter is that, unless you keep your kids locked in an RF shielded concrete bunker with no electricity, and no communication lines in or out, they will be exposed to things that you may not want them to be.

All of these things, rating systems, censorship, content screening are, at best, crutches for what I feel the real problem is. Americans don’t know how to parent any more. When I was growing up, I saw all kinds of violence (of both the real-life and gratuitous movie variety), bad language, sexually explicit movies, etc. And yet I do not swear like a sailor, drink, smoke, do drugs, have 25 kids by 7 different women, and (to my knowledge) have not stabbed, shot, run over or otherwise maimed or killed anyone lately.

And I believe I know why. Because my parents taught me not to. It is that simple. When I was growing up, I learned, by example, observation and numerous conversations, what constituted good and bad behavior, what was right, what was wrong and why. Now I’m not saying that either I or my parents were/are perfect. Far from it. We were all flawed, as humans beings often are. In fact as I grew older and learned to think for myself, I found I disagreed with many of the things they taught me. But at least they taught me the basics.

Nowadays parenting seems to be a constant struggle between working long hours to make enough money to feed the kids, and either parking them in front of a computer, video game, or TV, so you can get at a measly few hours of sleep before going back to work, or handing them off to someone else to take care of them while you are gone. We are no longer parenting our kids, we are simply housing them until they are of age. The average American doesn’t spend enough time with their kids. Not enough transfer of knowledge occurs, and as a result they don’t properly learn the lessons of right and wrong.

But an even more disturbing trend is that, even when there is sufficient time to engage the children, they often learn the wrong lessons. I come across a video on YouTube the other day showing a father video taping himself insulting someone, with some rather salty language, in front of his kids. Now I recognize that everyones parenting style is different, but I can assure you that if we all adopt the “anything goes” approach in the parenting of our kids, and pay no regard to how we behave around them, then what they see on the TV will be the least of our problems as a nation. We cannot teach our kids tolerance, patience, kindness, generosity, love or any of the values we claim to hold dear, if we do not practice these values ourselves.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. School massacres, snipers, gang violence, kids killing kids, these things do not occur in a vacuum. It is the culture that we have created that is breeding these kids. And as much as I hate to say it, it is not the fault of the media. It is our society that is at fault. And the sooner we recognize that and stop wasting energy on trying to control the inconsequential byproducts of our warped society, like violence in the media, and focus on ourselves and our issues, the sooner we will properly be able to figure out, as a nation, how to handle this growing crises.

IMHO, these silly “V-chips” are yet another useless weapon in an endless battle that we will never win, because we have failed to properly identify our enemy: Ourselves.

It’s super V-chip to the rescue of kids – [Reuters]

More RIAA College Shenanigans.

The RIAA is at it again:

Under the new scheme, the RIAA sends out what it calls ‘pre-litigation’ settlement letters. Actually, they’re self-incrimination documents and they’re designed to extort preset amounts of around $3,000 from students with the empty promise that by paying up, they’ll remove the threat of being hauled into court on charges of copyright infringement.

In reality, all the students are doing is providing the RIAA with personal and private information which can conceivably be used against them at some point in the future when the Big 4 agency ramps up to a new level of intimidation.

In the sixth wave of blackmail, the RIAA is targetting 23 universities nationwide with 408 ’settlement’ letters. – [p2pnet.net]

Yet again, the RIAA has resorted to mass mailing “pre-litigation” letters to specific colleges in an attempt to intimidate students into settling. I have, in a previous post, pointed out some of the legal pitfalls of this methodology, and why the RIAAs proposed case should never hold up in any but the most technologically ignorant court.

But the article above brings up even more reasons why such a case would be hard to prove, such as the possibility of spoofed IP packet addresses, where the IP address present in an IP package is not necessarily that of the computer that sent it. This and other factors, make identification by IP address, especially in a communal environment, with technologically savvy participants, a near worthless form of identification.

And it would appear that the RIAA knows fully well that this is the case, as it appears that many of the more prestigious, (and presumably more technology/law happy/savvy) colleges, such as Harvard, Yale, etc are conspicuously absent from the list, in spite of the fact that they would almost certainly have had a large number of file sharers among their populace.

It would appear that these “pre-litigation” letters amount to little more than blatant attempts to make suspected file sharers engage in self incrimination. If I were a student, staff, faculty or member of the administration at any of these 23 universities, I would consider this a great insult to my intelligence, and would refuse to cooperate with the RIAA simply on principle. But then again, that could just be my antisocial tendencies rising to the fore…

RIAA student victimisation campaign – [p2pnet.net]

Terrorist Profiling at it’s best. Or Worst. You Decide.

A poorly packaged college application prompted a call to the bomb squad at Eastern Illinois University. …… “There was no return address, it was poorly written, poorly addressed to the university, there were misspellings,” school spokeswoman Vicki Woodard said Saturday. “There was some tape over it. Just the overall appearance was rather strange.” – [USA Today]

OK, I have a question. Is a disheveled package with a poorly written address, equally poor spelling, and no return address the current modus operandi for bombers these days? I could be wrong, but I was under the impression that you had to be at least half-way intelligent to package explosives for delivery without blowing yourself up, or having the package blow up in transit.

By the same token I would think that any semi-intelligent person who wanted to ensure that an explosive package reached it’s destination would take pains to ensure that it did not exhibit traits that would attract attention, such as the said lack of a return address, poor spelling and rather conspicuous packaging. Or are we all supposed to believe that bombers and/or terrorists are, in general, of limited education and intelligence?

It may make you feel better to believe this to be the case, but as much as I hate to break it to ya, at least so far as terrorist activities are concerned, you are sorely mistaken if you do. Regardless of whether or not we believe our presidents “War on Terror” is justified, make no mistake; we are in it now, and must heed this all important rule of war: Know thy enemy…

Disheveled college application causes bomb scare – [USA Today]

Are religions really universal?

I read an interesting piece on the unfortunate verdict of a British High Court to disallow a young teenager the freedom to wear her “Purity Ring” to school:

A teen-ager whose teachers had stopped her wearing a “purity ring” at school to symbolize her commitment to virginity lost a High Court fight against the ban Monday. – [Yahoo/Reuters]

The sad part of this is that, her statement regarding the gradual erosion of the right to religious freedom may be true. But more importantly, it raises a simple but very important question. How does one determine whether any given symbolic ornament or ritual is core to any given religion? Can such a thing even be done? The High Courts decision seems to be based on the premise that Christianity has some universally recognized integral components that are practiced in the same general way by everyone.

I honestly don’t believe that to be true. Christianity is not practiced the same way by every one. This is why there are many different kinds of Christians. Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist, etc. I don’t believe that anyone in a legal capacity should be able to argue that any one thing does or does not belong in the Christian faith, or that any belief or symbol is any more or less important to Christians in general, because the truth is, there is no single, universally followed, Christian faith.

A typical example is the fact that many traditional Christian beliefs hold that sex before marriage is a no-no. And yet there are many sexually active, unmarried Christians. I would submit that this teenagers Christian views, while not the norm, are more traditionally valid than most. So the question is, how can her beliefs, and the symbols thereof, be marginalized on the grounds that they are not integral to the Christian faith?

I do realize we are talking about a piece of jewelry. But you cannot ignore the importance of symbolism in religion. A crucifix is no less a piece of jewelry than a ring. None of Jesus’ disciples wore a crucifix. That was something that followers of Christianity implemented later on at some point as a symbol, a reminder of the values of our faith. So, in my opinion, a purity ring or headdress should not be judged any differently. Perhaps she would get fairer treatment if she started a new religion that employed purity and faith rings instead of a crucifix.

Law and policy makers often seem to ignore the fact that religions are generally not the kind of things people can leave at the door when they go somewhere. They are often a lifestyle, a way of living life itself, and it was to protect this aspect of our individual rights that the laws protecting our freedom of religion were written.

Schoolgirl loses “virginity ring” battle – [Yahoo/Reuters]