Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A School Shooting, and a Heroic Teacher

There was a school shooting in Colorado today:

One male and one female were shot at about 3:30 p.m. outside Deer Creek Middle School in Littleton, Jefferson County Sheriff's office spokeswoman Jacki Kelley said. Both students were taken to a nearby hospital and were expected to survive.

Student Steven Seagraves said he was about 10 feet away when an adult approached students and asked them: "Do you guys go to this school?"

When the students said they did, he shot them, Seagraves said.

Seventh-grade math teacher David Benke, a 6-foot-5 inch former college basketball player who oversees the school's track team, tackled the suspect as he was trying to reload his weapon.

Nobody could have blamed Mr. Benke for running for cover. He was unarmed, against someone with a rifle. He saw an opening and took it - at great risk to his own life - to protect his students.

"He was trying to rack another round. He couldn't get another round in before I got to him so I grabbed him," Benke said, recalling that he didn't have time to fear for his life.

They don't say what kind of rifle it was, other than "high-powered" - of course, to the MSM, any rifle is "high-powered." The story says he was reloading, but it sounds more like it may have jammed. I suppose we'll find out later, though I don't expect the media to get it right without getting it wrong at least three different times.

[Update Feb. 24, 2010: NPR says this morning that it was a bolt-action rifle.]

At this time, the shooter appears to have no connection to the school, and no motive has been released.

Good job Mr. Benke, it sounds like you prevented a massacre. Any praise I can offer will fall infinitely short of what you deserve for your courage and quick thinking. Don't beat yourself up because you couldn't stop the first shots - when you have no reason to expect an attack, the attacker will always have the initiative, and the advantage of surprise. You overcame that, and took advantage of a single moment pure, blind luck to save many children.

Monday, February 22, 2010

More Climategate, and other things

Jenn over at A Conservative Shemale gives us a great multi-subject post today, starting with more problems for the whole global warming/cooling/climate-change thingamabob:

Scientists have been forced to withdraw a study on projected sea level rise due to global warming after finding mistakes that undermined the findings.


“One mistake was a miscalculation; the other was not to allow fully for temperature change over the past 2,000 years. Because of these issues we have retracted the paper and will now invest in the further work needed to correct these mistakes.”
They didn't "allow fully for temperature change over the last 2,000 years." Doesn't that cover the entire period where any man-made climate change would actually have occurred? That's some "mistake"!

She then links us to an article where the AGW pushers are trying to defend their claims.
[N]one of that gets at the question du jour, which is how big a role humans are playing. Until later on. Lashof and Deans say it’s a big one, and their source for saying so is a government report compiled by the nation’s top science, defense, and diplomatic agencies—NOAA, NASA, the Pentagon, the National Science Foundation, the Department of State (none of which have been marred in scandal)—over the course of two decades, through four presidential administrations.
Notice their source is a government report - they don't say where the agencies got their data for the report. Remember, most of the problems cropping up recently in the whole AGW theory are about problems with the data. It doesn't matter how "nonpartisan" the report is if it's based on corrupted, compromised, cherry-picked, or imaginary data.

She also hits on Don't Ask, Don't Tell, taking us to an article about a study showing that other militaries have found allowing openly gay soldiers to continue to serve has not been disruptive even with rapid transitions.

A comprehensive new study on foreign militaries that have made transitions to allowing openly gay service members concludes that a speedy implementation of the change is not disruptive. The finding is in direct opposition to the stated views of Pentagon leaders, who say repealing a ban on openly gay men and women in the United States armed forces should take a year or more.
Remember, a lot of the people pushing for a "slow" repeal of DADT are the ones who don't want it repealed in the first place - or would prefer to go back to the complete ban that existed before DADT.

She has more, too, but you should go to her blog to read it all.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Bread and Circuses

Jay G, who is MArooned in the Volksrepublik of Massachusetts, brings us word of the sorry state of public interest, noting that with all the important issues facing the U.S. today, the top headline is Tiger Woods' apology.

As long as we've got our bread-and-circuses, we'll ignore the signposts saying "Hell: 200 miles" all along the way. Distract us with a salacious story of a talented sportsman brought down by his reproductive organs, we'll forget all about the evil in the world, all the crazy, all the many ways our government fails again and again to do what it is supposed to do.

It gets discouraging when you realize that the vast majority of your fellow Americans know the cast of "Dancing with the Stars" but can't name their own Representative...

One of the signs leading up to the fall of Rome was the distraction of the people from important issues and events through the use of rewards and entertainment. This is the origin of the phrase "bread and circuses."

… Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions — everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses (Juvenal, Satire 10.77–81)

Roman politicians would attempt to secure votes with cheap food and entertainment, rather than by pursuing sound policy. Eventually the great Republic (and then Empire) declined and fell.

Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it. The state of the U.S. is starting to look pretty familiar in some ways.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


It's 27 degrees F, there's still nearly a foot of snow on the ground, but Blacksburg's most enthusiastic bike cop is not only out patrolling on his bicycle, but he's wearing SHORTS!

He's a great guy, but he's absolutely nucking futs as far as this goes (and yes, I have told him that to his face. Many times. Usually when I see him riding his bike wearing shorts in 10 below omg it's freezing weather.)

He's also one of my favorite cops in town, so this is really nothing more than good natured ribbing. :P

Sunday, February 14, 2010


I knew the "science" behind global warming was sketchy, and the data questionable, but... Wow.

Just one quote:

“We concluded, with overwhelming statistical significance, that the IPCC’s climate data are contaminated with surface effects from industrialization and data quality problems. These add up to a large warming bias,” he said.

Such warnings are supported by a study of US weather stations co-written by Anthony Watts, an American meteorologist and climate change sceptic.

His study, which has not been peer reviewed, is illustrated with photographs of weather stations in locations where their readings are distorted by heat-generating equipment.

Some are next to air- conditioning units or are on waste treatment plants. One of the most infamous shows a weather station next to a waste incinerator.

Watts has also found examples overseas, such as the weather station at Rome airport, which catches the hot exhaust fumes emitted by taxiing jets.

This really has gone from bad science to a farcical cover-up. Read the whole thing.

[h/t Robb, at Sharp as a Marble]

Bill further restricts sex offenders

From the Roanoke Times:

Legislation that would further limit where sex offenders can live and expand the list of convictions that activate those restrictions has drawn the ire of civil libertarians and advocates of reforming those laws.


If enacted, Athey's House Bill 1004 would bar individuals ordered to register as sex offenders for crimes involving a juvenile victim from living within 500 feet of multiple places children are known to frequent.

It would add school bus stops, community parks, playgrounds, recreation centers, public pools and private, parochial and Christian schools to state law, which applies to day care centers, public schools and adjoining public parks.

I have just two comments on this right now:

1) In addition to my next objection, I would have to object to adding school bus stops to the list. They can change from year to year without notice (unless it affects your own kids). What happens to a sex offender who wakes up one morning and finds out they've moved a school bus stop in front of his house? Does he have to move? Can he be charged with a violation immediately even though he wasn't notified? If he does have to move, how long does he have before he can be charged?

2) This objection is actually the most important - even beyond Constitutional considerations. It is, of course, the perennial objection to sex offender registration/restriction laws: If they're so dangerous we have to continually track where they live, and restrict where they can live, work, and travel,


Friday, February 12, 2010

State Censorship

Update: VT administration rejects Commission on Student Affairs' stance

Any effort to end Tech's contract with the Collegiate Times or its parent company, or to ban student organizations from advertising in the newspaper, "is not in the offing," [university spokesman Larry Hincker] said. "That is not the position of this administration."


Virginia Tech is threatening to pull funding from the campus paper (the Collegiate Times, or "CT").

The dispute centers upon a CT policy that allows online readers to post anonymous comments at collegiatetimes.com. The [Commission on Student Affairs] and others who support its proposal have objected to reader postings they characterized as racist or otherwise offensive.


Despite its independence, the newspaper receives free office space and $70,000 annually from the university, Vice President for Student Affairs Ed Spencer said.

The commission would further seek to ban student organizations from using university funds to buy ads in the CT, the letter stated.

Such a move could cripple or shut down the newspaper, which derives the majority of its revenues from ad sales. The newspaper's leadership pushed back publicly Thursday.

Essentially, the university wants to ban all anonymous comments on the paper's website because of some "racist or otherwise offensive" postings (ignoring, of course, the question of just who decides what is racist or offensive). The company that owns the CT is standing its ground, and doing so rather aggressively at this point.

The commission has requested another meeting with CT representatives.

But in a response to [commission chairwoman Michelle McLeese], [Kelly Wolff, general manager of the Educational Media Company at Virginia Tech, which owns the CT] wrote: "We have advised the Collegiate Times staff to discontinue discussions with CSA members, individually and collectively, on the topic of online comments. ... This is no longer a dialogue; it is coercion.

"We will wait to hear what the commission says. ... But if they are going to pursue this course of action, then we will take legal action," Wolff said in an interview Thursday.

In a purely private enterprise, this would not be a problem - a sponsor can provide or withdraw funding, facilities, or services at will and for any reason (within the limits of existing contracts). Virginia Tech, however, is an agency of the state (which is why they can't ban firearms on campus for anyone other than employees and students, or for specific events).

Note the sentence that I put in bold in the first quote. This actually goes farther than the university just pulling funding and support, they're also seeking to restrict where student organizations (the Fencing Club, the LGBTA, etc.), would be allowed to advertise.

Should an agency of the state be allowed to dictate terms about content to a newspaper? Should they be allowed to restrict where student organizations advertise? Or does this become a First Amendment violation? My first instinct is that this goes to far, and is an unallowable government coercion of media, but I'm not 100% settled yet - I really haven't had time to give it good, thorough, consideration. Opinions?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


There's been a lot of discussion about how Avatar is just a CGI remake of Fern Gully (or Pocahontas, or Dances With Wolves, etc.), but I think everyone missed it.

It's just a CGI remake of the Smurfs.


Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Global Warming!!?? F#@K YOU Al Gore!

That beam wasn't broken before we got over a foot of "Global Warming" dumped on us in a week's time!

That's the old carport/party patio in my backyard. This one:

Damn it!!!