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Posted by Jeff Soyer on 07 Nov 2014 07:17 am

Apparently, all the propaganda spread by anti-gunners — that guns make a home less safe — isn’t resonating with the public at large. From Gallup:

The percentage of Americans who believe having a gun in the house makes it a safer place to be (63%) has nearly doubled since 2000, when about one in three agreed with this. Three in 10 Americans say having a gun in the house makes it a more dangerous place.

Gallup originally asked Americans about their views on the implications of having a gun in the home in 1993, and then updated the measure in 2000. Between 2000 and 2006, less than half of Americans believed having a gun at home makes it safer — but since then, this percentage has significantly increased to a majority.

More at the link.

Posted by Jeff Soyer on 07 Nov 2014 07:11 am

From WOAI:

He won’t be sworn in as governor until January, but Governor Elect Greg Abbott has already stepped into his first controversy. The governor says if a bill allowing Texans to openly carry firearms in public reaches his desk, he’ll sign it.

C.J. Grisham, President of Open Carry Texas, says that means a bill allowing the open carrying of firearms with the need for a permit will be approved in the Legislature next year.

Can’t tell if that’s a typo or not. “With the need for a permit” would seem to indicate that you still need to go through all the training and stuff.

Posted by Jeff Soyer on 07 Nov 2014 07:00 am

Vermonters are way left on a lot of things, but gun control isn’t one of them. From Watchdog VT:

An outspoken advocate for gun control lost her seat in the Vermont House of Representatives Tuesday in what Second Amendment groups called a victory for firearms freedom in the Green Mountain State.

Of the various seats Democrats lost in Tuesday’s election, gun rights leaders in Vermont say the defeat of state Rep. Linda Waite-Simpson, D-Essex Junction, was a monumental win for the right to bear arms, and a warning to others who dare to restrict Vermonters’ gun freedom.

“The defeat of Linda Waite-Simpson is a body blow to Gun Sense Vermont,” Eddie Garcia, founder of the Vermont Citizens Defense League, told Vermont Watchdog.

Posted by Jeff Soyer on 06 Nov 2014 09:18 am

Actually, at Texas Politech. Students there know as little as students everywhere, unless it’s about Jersey Shore.

Posted by Jeff Soyer on 06 Nov 2014 06:40 am

Why is that a big deal, or even needed? Here’s why:

Michael Crumling, a 25-year-old machinist from Pennsylvania in the United States, has developed a round designed specifically to be fired from 3D printed guns. His ammunition uses a thicker steel shell with a lead bullet inserted an inch inside, deep enough that the shell can contain the explosion of the round’s gunpowder instead of transferring that force to the plastic body or barrel of the gun. Crumling says that allows a home-printed firearm made from even the cheapest materials to be fired again and again without cracking or deformation. And while his design isn’t easily replicated because the rounds must be individually machined for now, it may represent another step towards durable, practical, printed guns-even semi-automatic ones.

More at the link.

Posted by Jeff Soyer on 05 Nov 2014 04:48 am

“Universal” meaning for everybody except criminals. Well, given the recent high-profile shootings there, and the $10 million pumped into the campaign from the likes of Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg, I had expected it. From SFGate:

Initiative 594 was one of two rival gun measures on the ballot. It requires background checks on all sales and transfers, including private transactions and many loans and gifts. It passed with especially strong support in King County.

And this will be enforced…how?

Posted by Jeff Soyer on 05 Nov 2014 04:33 am

If for no other reason, just listening to and reading liberal reactions to the election makes this a wonderful morning.

Oh, and this is hilarious.

Posted by Jeff Soyer on 04 Nov 2014 06:00 am

The Doyle estate has exhausted its options. From the LA Times:

It’s official: Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective (and Benedict Cumberbatch’s famous alter ego), is in the public domain.

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear a case brought by Doyle’s estate, which claimed that authors who wanted to publish stories about Holmes needed to pay the estate a licensing fee. This leaves intact a June decision by 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner, which held that most of Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories are no longer protected by copyright.

The case started last year after Doyle’s estate demanded a licensing fee from the publisher Pegasus, which had planned to release an anthology called “In the Company of Sherlock Holmes,” edited by Laurie R. King and Leslie S. Klinger. The book, which features Holmes-inspired stories by contemporary writers, is now for sale.

Klinger sued the estate and won. The Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the appeal means Doyle’s estate is out of options in the U.S. The decision does preserve copyright on 10 late Sherlock Holmes stories by Doyle but leaves most of the author’s work and characters in the public domain.

I expect we’ll be seeing a lot more ‘interpretations’ of the great Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in the coming years.

Posted by Jeff Soyer on 03 Nov 2014 11:55 am

Finally! Good news: Open Road Media is releasing a Kindle edition of Quozl, by Alan Dean Foster (Amazon link). Quozl is a lighthearted science fiction tale of a race of alien “rabbits” who land on Earth, go into hiding, and finally reveal themselves. Adults and young adults will enjoy this pleasant novel of first contact (both of the humans, and the Quozl) and how the Quozl are finally introduced to humanity at large.

The planet of Quozlene is overpopulated. A multi-generational interstellar ship is programmed for Earth. Unbeknownst to the Quozl, Earth already has an intelligent (well, somewhat) species occupying it. The Quozl land in a nearly deserted area of a national forest, burrow into the ground, and hope they won’t be discovered for hundreds of years.

The Quozl are rabbit like, in many ways including — you guessed it — their sexual appetite. This is mentioned, but not elaborated upon, throughout the story. Hence, I consider the book appropriate for teenagers. The aliens forbid anyone to leave the underground burrow. One curious, young Quazl sneaks out — and first contact is made with a young boy.

What makes Quozl such a satisfying book is the way Alan Dean Foster as developed an entire history and culture for the aliens, yet doesn’t let it bog-down the story. All of the characters, human and alien, are fleshed out (furred out?) and you wind-up caring for all of them. The author also deftly handles a story that covers many years.

Quozl is a nice diversion from all of the heavy, militaristic science fiction being produced these days. I enjoyed it, and I think that you will, too. My hope is that in the distant future, when humans finally do encounter aliens, that the meeting will be as pleasant as the one in this enjoyable story.

Posted by Jeff Soyer on 03 Nov 2014 06:30 am

According to the latest Gallup Poll, Moms Against Guns, or whatever they’re calling themselves these days, haven’t had much of an overall impact nationally regarding public sentiment about enacting additional gun control measures.

Posted by Jeff Soyer on 01 Nov 2014 12:30 pm

As soon as a new book in this series comes out, I buy it. That should tell you something right there. You get a lot of reading for just 99 cents for your Kindle and you can’t beat that. The Ninth Science Fiction Megapack (Amazon link) is here and I recommend it with reservations.

I’ve given most of the books in this series five stars, but this one I’m dropping to 4. There isn’t quite as much of a mix in different types of stories, and there seems to be a lot more of the older (1950’s to 1970’s) ones than usual. Still, for only a buck, you can’t lose.

Here’s a round-up of the better ones (sans plot-spoilers):

Near novel length, The Spires of Denon, by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, concerns intrigue at an archeological dig on a distant world where, far in the future, descendants of Earth explore an old, abandoned human colony. There are secrets to be discovered, and some of them involve the participants, themselves. Typically excellent Rusch storytelling.

Ain’t Nothing But A Hound Dog, by Brenda W. Clough, relates what happens to one mail order business owner when he discovers that his best customer is…

Luvver, by Mack Reynolds. A pleasure craft makes an emergency landing on a quarantined world.

Frog Level, by Bud Webster. A student could learn a lot by hopping a freight train — with the right teacher.

Shifting Seas, by Stanley G. Weinbaum. Now we’re really talking climate change!

Rock Garden, by Kevin O’Donnell, Jr. Searching for life in the asteroid belt, and a computer that understands English less than Siri does.

When They Come From Space, by Mark Clifton. Another novella, probably about 70,000 words long. As an editor, I would have cut about 5,000 of those. Nonetheless, this is a wonderfully cynical look at governmental bureaucracy, the control of media over politics, and an alien exploration committee that knows how to exploit both. My favorite quote from it (there are several) is: “You’re in the government now. First rule of government of the people, by the people, for the people: Never tell the people!”

Waiting For The Coin To Drop, by Dean Wesley Smith. Time travel for historians. Time travel for prisoners. What could go wrong?

Beyond The Darkness, by S. J. Byrne. Another version of the multigenerational star ship from Earth with a revolt against the ruling class. Pretty good, though the ending seems rushed and could have been expanded to make this a full length novel.

The Loch Moose Monster, by Janet Kagan, is my favorite story in this collection. Colonists on a planet “unpack” the “condensed” DNA samples from Earth and bring them to life. Well, it seemed a good idea at the time… Lots of fun, and I wish I could be there!

My Fair Planet, by Evelyn E. Smith. An alien hires an actor to instruct him on how to be human. I chuckled more than once while reading it.

My second favorite story here is Preferred Risk, by Frederik Pohl and Lester del Rey. Novel length, it was written many years ago, but thanks to Pohl’s skill, reads perfectly fine today. It’s also one of the few “action” stories in the book. What happens when one “company” runs the world? It controls every facet of your life, insuring your health, well being, and there’s still a bottom line to be met. Oh, and then disaster strikes! Typical Pohl at his best.

There’s also two good, in-depth interviews by Darrell Schweitzer of authors Dan Simmons and Frederik Pohl.

A handful of the stories are hopelessly ancient. For example: to read about plant and animal life on Mars when we know that there isn’t any. These should have been left out of the book. One example will suffice: Before Eden, by Arthur C. Clarke, takes place on Venus. Here’s a quote from the third chapter of the tale, discussing the weather: “The weather was fantastically clear, with visibility of almost a thousand yards.” I didn’t bother reading any further than that.

I want to mention one more story in the Ninth Science Fiction Megapack. It is For I Am A Jealous People, by Lester del Rey. This is an old, novella length retread of War of the Worlds, with a religious twist, and not a good one. The story itself isn’t bad and has some action in it. However, (and I say this as a non-religious person) the ending and premise will be deeply insulting to devout Christians and Jews. I’m not politically correct under anyone’s definition. However, I believe in playing fair, and I do believe that the media, writers, and in this case, editors, seem to feel that it is perfectly fine to beat-up on the Christian faith. That’s just wrong. If this story had been scornful of gays (for example) or women or African Americans, the outrage would be immediate. There was no legitimate reason to include it in this omnibus.

Having said all of that, this latest entry in the series is still a very good bargain. Lots of good reading for less than a cup of coffee. Buy it and have fun.

Posted by Jeff Soyer on 31 Oct 2014 03:01 am

We read about these incidences all the time. You’d think that cops would double-check their information first. This story, though, has a decent ending. From WFTV:

Kissimmee resident King Baker said he was startled from his sleep Thursday afternoon by the sounds of SWAT members bursting through his door and the sight of a gun to his head. It turns out the officers were in the wrong apartment.

“All I see is guns pointed at me, officers coming through the door. I hear, ‘boom, boom, boom,’ two to three times,” said Baker.

[ . . . ]

“When I told them my name and they was like, ‘Oh (expletive), we have the wrong house,’” said Baker.

Kissimmee officials told Channel 9’s Ryan Hughes that they messed up.

“Unfortunately a huge mistake was made and our SWAT team went into the adjacent apartment,” said Stacie Miller, with the Kissimmee Police Department.

[ . . . ]

Police broke some windows and a door jamb during the raid. They quickly made repairs to Baker’s residence.

The Kissimmee Police Department paid for a hotel room for Baker and his family overnight.

At least the Kissimmee Police Department quickly admitted their mistake, put Baker in a hotel, and repaired the damage. That’s a whole lot more than most police departments do when they fuck-up on these raids.

Posted by Jeff Soyer on 31 Oct 2014 02:51 am

CBS4 Denver goes undercover and is able to buy lots of gun magazines that can be easily modified to hold 30-rounds. I’m guessing from the pictures and video that .223 was targeted specifically. Naturally the reporters are shocked. But I found the last bit the most interesting:

Rep. Rhonda Fields, who sponsored Colorado’s high capacity magazine ban, declined to be interviewed about what CBS4 had found, saying she was concerned it might impact the November 4 elections.

Mauser predicted the CBS4 Investigation would again get people discussing Colorado’s gun laws and how to address the new cat and mouse game that has emerged with high capacity magazines.

Sheriff Cooke told CBS4 that since the passage of the law banning high capacity magazines, there has not been a single arrest in Colorado of anyone suspected of violating the law.

Fields is running for reelection. Cooke and almost all other sheriffs opposed the law in the first place.

Posted by Jeff Soyer on 30 Oct 2014 01:03 am

It really is sad that it’s come to this.

Posted by Jeff Soyer on 28 Oct 2014 10:23 am

Curiosity Quills Press has a hit on their hands as far as I’m concerned, with Operation Chimera, by Tony Healey and Matthew S. Cox. (Amazon link.) This entry into the science-fiction field offers likable characters, a good plot, and non-stop action including one of the best (and longest) space-battle scenes I’ve read in quite some time.

Earth, along with some allies, is fighting an interstellar war against the Draxx Alliance, a reptilian race that believes the entire universe belongs to them. As a plot, there’s nothing especially original about this. What sets Operation Chimera apart from similar themed novels is the deft execution by the authors. First and foremost, the writing is excellent and the characters are believably well fleshed out — warts and all. They are carefully introduced during the opening chapters.

As part of the war effort, a dangerous and secret mission is proposed. The mission is so risky that the military asks for volunteers both from their own ranks, and from civilians. A new aircraft carrier style star ship is built for the voyage. The story details the adventures of six pilots fresh out of the officer’s academy. They comprise one of the fighter squadrons and their mettle will be tested all through the book. I enjoyed the fact that there’s no one “star” of the story. Rather, authors Healey and Cox gave all of the protagonists equal weight.

I’m not going to reveal spoilers. I will tell you that the main battle scene runs over a hundred pages and that there’s no way you are going to want to put the book down half-way through it. Plan your meals accordingly! The obstacles for both the squadron and the star ship are many, and they keep coming one after another and piling up, making Operation Chimera such a wonderful read. Incidentally, the authors give “hat-tips” to other SF authors throughout the book, including to Isaac Asimov and his robotic laws. Nice touch!

Fortunately for all of us SF fans, this is just the first book in what I hope will be a long series.

Posted by Jeff Soyer on 28 Oct 2014 04:19 am

First it happened in Illinois:

Early Voting in Illinois got off to its typical start Monday, as votes being cast for Republican candidates were transformed into votes for Democrats.

MACHINE ISSUES: Republican state representative candidate Jim Moynihan had trouble voting for himself on Monday when early voting started in Illinois.

“I tried to cast a vote for myself and instead it cast the vote for my opponent,” Moynihan said. “You could imagine my surprise as the same thing happened with a number of races when I tried to vote for a Republican and the machine registered a vote for a Democrat.”

Now, it’s happening in Maryland:

Voting machines that switch Republican votes to Democrats are being reported in Maryland.

“When I first selected my candidate on the electronic machine, it would not put the ‘x’ on the candidate I chose — a Republican — but it would put the ‘x’ on the Democrat candidate above it,” Donna Hamilton said.

“This happened multiple times with multiple selections. Every time my choice flipped from Republican to Democrat. Sometimes it required four or five tries to get the ‘x’ to stay on my real selection,” the Frederick, Md., resident said last week.

Queen Anne County Sheriff Gary Hofmann said he encountered the problem, too, personally.

Interesting that the voting machines never switch Democrat votes to Republican ones.

Posted by Jeff Soyer on 28 Oct 2014 03:31 am

In Douglas County, Georgia, NRA hats not allowed in polling places:

According to My Fox Atlanta, Douglas County Board of Elections supervisor Laurie Fulton claims the county’s position on NRA hats is based on legal precedent.

Fulton said:

The courts have found that anything that suggests [or is] associated with the NRA, in many people’s perceptions, is associated with the Republican Party. So with an overabundance of caution, Mr. Cobb was asked to remove the hat so that no one could interpret that we were playing any favoritism toward one party over the other.

How about NEA hats? Rainbow t-shirts? Union hats and jackets? All associated with the Democratic Party, last time I looked.

Posted by Jeff Soyer on 26 Oct 2014 10:07 pm

The first of a trilogy of novellas, The Whispers, by Lisa Unger (Amazon link) confronts us with the question of, “Why do bad things happen to good people,” and is there a purpose behind such events? Eloise Montgomery suffers the unthinkable, losing her husband and oldest daughter in a terrible automobile accident. She herself suffers injuries and awakens from a 6-week coma. Her youngest daughter suffered no physical effects but has withdrawn into herself by not speaking or responding to outside stimulus.

Thus begins this intriguing series following the new life forced upon Eloise. And then the visions start! Audible and visual phenomena of women being abused or worse. She finds herself successfully assisting the police in two investigations. She does not want this new “gift” and must reflect upon why it was given to her. Cryptic parts of the answer come from, shall we say, visits from her deceased husband and child.

Lisa Unger is a good writer and her characters are vivid and complete. Her descriptions of the mental anguish experienced by Eloise exert a powerful tug on your heartstrings. The story ends on an upbeat note. Naturally you are left wanting more. Fortunately, the next installment of this series is due out in November. I guarantee you I’ll be reading it.

Posted by Jeff Soyer on 25 Oct 2014 05:44 am

Was it Nancy Pelosi who declared that there’s nothing left that can be cut from the federal budget? From Vermont Watchdog:

Americans will soon get the full monty on the hippie commune movement that invaded Vermont in the 1970s, thanks to a federal grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

[ . . . ]

With $117,521 supplied by taxpayers, the Vermont Historical Society has begun work on “Colleges, Communes and Coops: 1970’s Counterculture and Its Lasting Influence on Vermont.” The two-year research project aims to provide a nostalgic insider look at the nearly 100 hippie farms that overtook Vermont following the Vietnam War youth protest movement.

For more on how the federal government wastes your money, check this out.

Posted by Jeff Soyer on 25 Oct 2014 05:32 am

This is from Auburn, Washington. From the Seattle Times:

An Auburn School District official said Thursday that students and staff of the Sikh faith are permitted to wear ceremonial knives for religious reasons.

[ . . . ]

The knife, called a kirpan, is considered an instrument of social justice in the Sikh religion, and is one of five articles of faith worn by observant Sikhs. The blades are typically dull and range from 3 to 9 inches long, according to the New York-based Sikh Coalition.

We need to create a new religion: Gunnism. Part of the requirements for the faithful is the carrying of a ceremonial 1911.

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