The “Alt-Right,” Triangle Badges, and the Lie of Otherism

The symbol of the yellow double triangle, the Star of David, with the word “Jude” inscribed still strikes horror into those who see it… and for good reason. 

One of the first academic projects that I created on the subject inspired the change to the requirements of a certain holocaust memorial scholarship: previously the scholarship had been only available to essay writers, but the foundation found my protect to be so influential that they changed the submission format to include other creative types (sadly, my video submission didn’t count, because they could only change it for subsequent years…. Though they told me that they would have awarded me with the scholarship had the requirements allowed them to). I digress, but for a purpose: when I made that project – pictures applied to music with only dates for words – the Holocaust had ended nearly 6 decades before. But still my project called “Images of War,” left my peers (who had spent the previous semester becoming emotionally detached from the horrors of Hitler’s Genocide) in tears. Why?

Because even now this image rips into our souls. 

Even now, feeling people have their eyes burn and they question, “who could do that?”

If you feel like I just insulted you for being unmoved by the victims of the holocaust, you’re right. I just called you unfeeling. I have other words for you too, but there are children nearby.

But why do I bring this up? Why do I take the time to insult a portion of my readers? I promise to circle back to that answer.

The “alt-right”

For those who don’t follow politics like my brother follows the basketball season… With their goalposts and… Cheerleaders?…. And…. Goalies? Okay, it’s a bad analogy because I literally know nothing of the sport (sorry, Ben, I tried to be masculine and tough….): if you are beginning to pay attention to the political season because of the presidential elections coming up, you’ll also start hearing the term “alt-right.” You may not know this term. Most people are ignorant to it. It’s a pretty new term, but the media are trying to make the term synonymous with the term “conservative.” The Clinton campaign are pushing for the same thing (some would say I’m being redundant by dividing the two… And you aren’t wrong….)

So what is the “alt-right?” The term is only recently leaving the backward forums of the dark web. Even those of us that follow politics like a sport are finding ourselves sideswiped by this group that is quickly gaining notoriety and power…. Not that we weren’t expecting some group to do this, we just didn’t know which group.

The alt-right, as the name implies, voice themselves as an alternative to the right; an alternative to conservatism. They do not view themselves as conservatives, and they ridicule the conservative movement with lovely and polite terms like “cuckservative,” (shortened to “cuck”) – I’ll let you research the meaning and origin of that insult. Just be prepared to delete your browser history when you’re done. This group is representative of many who once fashioned themselves as conservatives, but have since come into the light as their true selves: Anne Coulter, who said that a certain candidate could murder babies in the White House, for all she cares, because of his immigration stance. This same former bastion of the extreme right just released a book mocking our nation’s motto, titled “In Trump We Trust.” 

What does this group believe? The key defining factors of the alt-right are that they believe themselves to be the guardians of western culture; which, in their view, rests on 3 pillars: Christianity, the European Nations, and the rule of law. Notice that non-Christians, in the view of the alt-right cannot be part of western society; neither can those not descended from the European nations (read ‘no -whites) and neither can the criminal element of society. All of these “non” groups not only cannot be a part of western society, but are inherently enemies to it. In short: the alt-right are white supremacists, white nationalists, and populist racists. The KKK, the neo-nazis, the Nazi Party, and all of these hateful extremists fall into the peelers of this ideology.

What do they have right; what they are not.

The alt-right has a handful of things right. Namely, that western society and culture is superior to other societies and cultures. “Oh, that’s so racist!” No, no it’s not. Racism requires race. Is it bigoted to believe that some societies and cultures are better than others? You decide. One non-western culture throws homosexuals off of rooftops, practices female circumcision, and is committing genocide against Christians: western society does not. Is one better than the other? Of course. What makes western society better than others? The ideology of liberty and freedom. Societies that embrace these principles become superior to their former status’s.

But the alt-right believe that western society is inherited by race. They believe that non-whites and Jews cannot assimilate into the society and are enemies to the white race and culture. What the alt-right believe is racist, because it is founded in the idea of race, not ideology.

In Alt-Right ideology, you will not find deference to constitutional governance, limited government, or individual liberty. This group, therefore, cannot be rightly identified as conservative. Indeed, as stated earlier, they do not identify themselves that way. This group believes in growing government to whatever size necessary to protect white culture from the invading forces of non-whites, non-Christians, and the “innately” criminal.

The alt-right is inherently Nationalist: they believe that our nation is superior because we are a “white-Christian nation” (in their view). They reject what the founders embraced; constitutional conservative principles based in individual liberty and economic freedom; that despite being almost wholly Christian, and being largely opposed to “Mohommediesm,” the founders still ensured the right of each person in our country to worship according to the dictates of their own conscience. Further, many of the alt-right identify strongly with socialist economic beliefs.

Coming back around

The very astute have identified the connection between the first and second segments of this article: the alt-right, being Statist Nationalists who more readily identify as socialists than free-trade capitalists,  have much more in common with the National Socialist party of the German early 20th century than they do with today’s constitutional conservatives.

Donald Trump, in my estimation, is not a racist… But he sure seems to play one on TV. The reason the alt-right has come into national attention is that they have almost wholly adopted Trump as their champion. “In Trump We Trust.” And apart from decrying this despicable group, he has consistently played to them. Breitbart.com, which was founded by the champion of conservatism, Matthew Breitbart, has (since Matthew’s death, and contrary to his vision) become the self-described home of the alt-right. It has also become the unabashed propaganda arm of the Donald Trump campaign. The head of that website is now the head of the Trump Campaign.

Finally connecting the dots

The alt-right has gone from the absurd element of the fringe to controlling the Republican Party. They define themselves by segregating groups by nationality and religion: declaring the “others” as enemies. The world has been down this road many items before. How long before they start sowing badges on our shirts? Anecdotally, I’ve had a digital “badge” attached to my name on a once conservative forum which identified me as an ideological enemy to the alt-right forum moderator. 

If you aren’t conservative, you need to know that the alt-right does not (emphatically does not) represent the ideology of constitutional conservatism. They don’t claim to. The alt-right recently published an article denouncing conservative “worship” of the constitution because we wouldn’t get behind their chosen leader of Donald Trump. Despite the recent and upcoming incessant attempts by the media to conflate the two ideologies, the alt-right does not represent conservatives.

If you are a conservative, you need to know that the alt-right does not represent the ideology of constitutional conservatism. One of the weaknesses of the constitutional right is the susceptibility to jingoism and nationalism. The United States is not exceptional because we are the United States; we are exceptional because of our adherence to the Godly principles of individual liberty, free market capitalism, and rule of law. Do not let these disgusting human beings lure you in by the promise of a return to national greatness; they don’t have your values in mind. Their greatness is not the same as yours. They want to use you as a useful idiot to reach their end goals of hate and inhuman division. Don’t let them.

Again, I don’t believe that the Trump fits into the category of the Alt-right, but he sure attracts them. I won’t pretend that the decision not to vote for the trump is an easy one: he opposes Clinton, and that is the best argument for voting for him. But those who pretend that the decision to vote for him is easy because of his values and principles are probably close adherents to the ideology of the alt-right. And I can’t sit with those kids on the bus either.

To make an analogy – the country is being asked to pick the method of our execution: gas chamber of firing squad. When we cry “I don’t want either! I want my country to live!” We’re told, “quit being so divisive.” We are told, “the choice is binary.” That failing to choose the gas chamber is choosing the firing line. “Why do you support the firing line?” They angrily ask us. “I don’t want my country to die!” We desperately repeat as we are being lead away.

Nations have followed the racist nationalist ideology before. We cannot let that ideology identify us. We must not be tainted with that stain. Our immortal souls depend on rejecting this evil.
This was fun, Jared, can we have some more?

Sure! Because this was such a light hearted and fun post, let’s play a game! It’s called “which Nazi consecration camp badge would you wear?” I can see this one storming Facebook, can’t you?

Mine looks like this:


My wife’s looks like this:

What does yours look like? Take the quiz and comment below!

Or… I haven’t actually made the quiz…. But do some reading, and comment below!

Or…. This is pretty dark, isn’t it? These disgusting things still turn the stomach don’t they? Just in case we think that this kind of stuff doesn’t happen any more, remember this one, called the mark of the Nazarene, or the mark of shame:


Like us on Facebook. Share the post if you found it enlightening. I’m honored that you’ve read through with me. I know this is heavy stuff, but those who don’t know the past are doomed to repeat it. God protect us, we are repeating it.

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I Was Completely Wrong, And I Didn’t Even Know It

Over the last several months, I’ve written and re-written an article defining what I believe is the key difference between American Liberalism and American Conservatism; between Socialism and Capitalism; between the political Left and the political Right. That difference is the polar opposites of Collectivism and Individualsim. It is this difference, I contend, that irreparably divides the political factions. Is is this difference that separates the political and moral foundations that define us.

And I maintain that I am correct in this assessment. The political left, the socialists, the progressives, and the American liberals all have one key tying them together: that the will of the individual is or should be subservient to the will and benefit of the whole; that the good of the many outweighs the good of the one; that individuals are made to better the society. In short, the fundemental core is collectivism.

This ideology and fundamental understanding directly contradicts the basis of the political right, the conservatives, libertarians, and the capitalists who believe that the will of the many cannot override the will of the individual (as long as that individual is not directly harming other individuals, taking their things, or taking their individual rights); that the individual benefits the society by acting in their own self interest while protecting the self interest of their neighbor; that society is made to protect the liberty of the individual. Theirs is the fundemental core of individualism.

I maintain that am I correct in these summaries, that they are accurate representations of the fundamental beliefs of these parties. I maintain that these positions are irreconcilable. 
However, I have always held that convincing arguments; convincing evidence; or a convincing combination of the two should and will change my mind when presented to me. Yesterday, one such argument was made, and it has caused me to change my view.

The institution of marriage is the foundational bedrock of western civilization. Marriage is the idea that you and your beloved are now a new family, and that family is a bulwark against the vicissitudes of fate and the vicissitudes of reality. You are a team and your goal is to both survive and flourish as a team; and you’re not going to do it separately. You’re going to better together, (to grab a phrase from Hillary Clinton’s idiotic campaign: she wants to do it better together as a government).
Family exists in opposition to the forces of nature. It exists in opposition to the forces of government. It exists in opposition to communitarianism. And it exists in direct opposition to the idea that the individual, on his own, is enough. The individual on his own isn’t enough. You need a wife or you need a husband because that person makes you a better person, completes you, and is the only person in the world who has the same agenda that you do in your life. Everybody needs both a cheerleader and a person for whom to cheerlead. That’s what marriage provides. 
Aside from that, without marriage the world ceases to function; the human world ceases to function because your creation of new life is, in both spiritual and physical form, the significant unification of humanity. Every time you have a child, you’re recreating humanity anew. And you’re expressing faith in God, faith in the future, and a belief that things will get better.

~Ben Shapiro

To borrow from this great thinker: “[the family] exists in direct opposition to the idea that the individual, on his own, is enough. The individualism on his own isn’t enough.”

And in a blink of an eye (he’s a fast talker), my mind has been changed. I no longer believe that society’s purpose is to benefit the individual. I no longer believe that the will of the individual trumps the will of society. I no longer believe that society is made to protect the liberty of the individual. I have been convinced by a great thinker, and fast talker, that the society’s purpose is to benefit the family. I believe that the will of the family trumps the will of society. I believe that society is made to protect the liberty of the family.

I believe that government should be only large enough to protect the family and its individuals from the dangers of those who would do them harm. When government grows to try to fill the God given role of the family, society dies a slow, angry, and bitter death. Our society is dying. We have rejected the family as the central unit of society. The political right have selfishly claimed that the most important unit in society is the individual. The political left have claimed that the individual must be trampled by the will of the whole in the damnable lie of “progress.” Both have ignored the family, to our ruin.
Go home today, or call, or whatever. Tell your spouse that you love them. Swallow your pride, and admit your faults. Open your soul to your beloved. Place her (or him) first. It is time that we replace the family in our society as the most important unit. Our society is dying: the only cure is the restoration of Godly principles starting with the family.

Broken Covenants; Unrepentant Sin; and Atonement

The gospel of Jesus Christ is full of individual responsibility, personal covenants, distinctive action, and one on one choice to follow the will of God. This holds the basis of Salvation: that each soul must choose for themselves whom they will serve. As Joshua so eloquently challenged: “If serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve… But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Inharently in Joshua’s command is the individual choice to serve God. 

However, a handful of nations have gone above and beyond this command of individual worship and covenant. 

Israel had made the covenant with their foundation. Having rejected it, they spent years in chastising bondage. Before returning to their home, Joshua warned them that he covenant not be taken lightly, and they made it again:

Then the people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake the Lord to serve other gods! It was the Lord our God himself who brought us and our parents up out of Egypt, from that land of slavery, and performed those great signs before our eyes. He protected us on our entire journey and among all the nations through which we traveled. And the Lord drove out before us all the nations, including the Amorites, who lived in the land. We too will serve the Lord, because he is our God.” 

Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord. He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after he has been good to you.” 

But the people said to Joshua, “No! We will serve the Lord.”

Then Joshua said, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen to serve the Lord.” 

“Yes, we are witnesses,” they replied. 

“Now then,” said Joshua, “throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.” 

And the people said to Joshua, “We will serve the Lord our God and obey him.” On that day Joshua made a covenant for the people, and there at Shechem he reaffirmed for them decrees and laws. 

On this continent, following a similar apostasy of the covenent people (who were a lost branch of the Israelites), the faithful leader Moroni called for a similar renewal of Godly covenent:

 Behold, whosoever will maintain this title upon the land, let them come forth in the strength of the Lord, and enter into a covenant that they will maintain their rights, and their religion, that the Lord God may bless them.

And it came to pass that when Moroni had proclaimed these words, behold, the people came running together with their armor girded about their loins, rending their garments in token, or as a covenant, that they would not forsake the Lord their God; or, in other words, if they should transgress the commandments of God, or fall into transgression, and be ashamed to take upon them the name of Christ, the Lord should rend them even as they had rent their garments.
Now this was the covenant which they made, and they cast their garments at the feet of Moroni, saying: We covenant with our God, that we shall be destroyed, even as our brethren in the land northward, if we shall fall into transgression; yea, he may cast us at the feet of our enemies, even as we have cast our garments at thy feet to be trodden under foot, if we shall fall into transgression.

Here, a similar covenent was made after years of hardship, termoil, and oppression:

On May 15, 1776, shortly after the Continental Army’s initial arrival at New York, months before the British invasion, Washington prepared his men. Not only did he prepare them physically, but spiritually. He called them to the covenant. In a General Order, he declared:

“Instant to be observed [on Friday the 17th] as a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer, humbly to supplicate the mercy of Almighty God, that it would please him to pardon all our manifold sins and transgressions, and to prosper the Arms of the United Colonies, and finally establish the peace and freedom of America, upon a solid and lasting foundation.”
Then again on July 2, Washington in another General Order would remind his men that “the fate of unborn Millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army…Let us therefore rely upon the goodness of the Cause, and the aid of the Supreme Being, in whose hands Victory is.” Two days later, in Philadelphia, these same sentiments would be immortalized by the Continental Congress in the Declaration of Independence, which concludes, “And for support of this Declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”
Washington was so convinced of his utter dependence upon this covenant relationship with God that he would continue to extend reminders and calls to repentance. On July 9, Washington issued another General Order in which he called for chaplains in each regiment to ensure that the soldiers “attend carefully upon religious exercises.” The order concluded with the following: “The blessing and protection of Heaven are at all times necessary but especially so in times of public distress and danger-the General hopes and trusts, that every officer and man, will endeavor so to live, and act, as becomes a good Christian soldier defending the dearest Rights and Liberties of his country.

In each of these cases, and many others, the sincere covenent with God has lead to victory of His covenent people: militarily, economically, in peace, in happiness, and in liberty.

But in each of these cases, we can also see the consequence when the people in question have defied or broken their covenant with God:

The Israelites, turning from God, were chastened with millennia of torment at the hands of the Canaanites, Persians, and the Arabs. After the final rejection and crucifixion of their God, they were dispersed entirely spending nearly 2000 years in exile for their failure to uphold their covenant.

The Nephites spent the better part of the next 1000 years being reminded of their covenent by falling and returning to God; accepting defeat and victory according to their faith. Ultimately they were completely destroyed in a genocidal war because of their failure to return to the God who protected them.

The Americans failure to keep their promise to God, and provide liberty to their fellow men, became embroiled in a civil war that nearly cost the nation, and remains to be the single most deadly war in their history. The following generation saw a turn from God, until they wer chastened by two generations of war, and returned them to the faith of God. However, the current trend is the most blatant rejection of God in American history: no longer do we openly enslave people by race, but we have committed an evil sacrament to Satan which has resulted in the murder of over 50 million innocent children: and we have called that sacrament good. We have turned away from our covenant and called it evil. We have selected leaders to guide us that we know are evil and unrighteousness actors, and called it inevitable.

America, like Israel and the Land of Nephi before them (and others) is ripe for just destruction. We have openly defied the God whom we promised to serve. Ours is a nation that has fallen into the worship of Baal and the grove, just as completely as our predecessors. And the Godly covenant gives us our promised consequence: obliteration.

But there is hope now, as there always has been. Israel is restored: they have turned back to the God who made them, and they have defied all external enemies (see the 7 day war…. And every other Israelie conflict in modern history….) the United States need only return to her Father for the promise of redemption.

Atonement must be made. Christ has made it, but we must accept that atonement, or we will make it ourselves again. That road leads to destruction.

As Joshua, I call on my readers to “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.” The salvation of your individual soul depends upon your choice.

But as the Israelites, the Nephites, and the Americans before us, the return to God as a people; the restoration of our covenant; predicates our national security, our collective peace, our economic stability, and our cultural longevity. For the sake of our children, we must choose worthy leaders to lead and guide us. Like our spiritual ancestors, we must declare firmly that “We too will serve the Lord, because he is our God.” 

Being Lost; Finding My Compass

I love to write. I have loved it my whole life. I have been writing my thoughts down as long as I can remember. I tend to think that I’m pretty good at it. I like to tell stories. I think I’m pretty good at that too. I like to tell the uplifting and funny stories about myself and my life. I feel like those stories cheer people and help them to overcome the challenges that they face.

I also like to teach. Teaching has been a passion of mine since I was 15 years old, and started teaching the Indian Lore and Leatherworking merit badges at summer camp. I tend to think that I’m pretty good at that too. I have a way with adjusting my lessons to fit the needs of my class and making the material fit them personally. I’ve had students approach me years later and express how I’ve personally impacted their lives. Those moments have changed me. I wouldn’t surrender them for anything.

I’ve endevored to express my love of teaching in my writing. I don’t know how successful that has been. The damnable thing about the Internet is the complete inability to read one’s audience. I have picked topics that are both broad and specific; both personal and public; that I am passionate about and that I am mostly indifferent to (less of those). 

I haven’t published anything in a couple of months. I’ve written! I have saved in my draft file dozens of articles in various stages of completion: some induce writer’s block after the title, but are subjects that are important to me; others have the first draft complete; and some are ready for publishing, but the time isn’t right.

The truth is, I’m lost. I like to write about impactful things, funny things, insightful things, and uplifting things. But the last several months have been hard. Life is always hard for me: that’s part of being broken! But the last moths have been especially hard. My body has shut down more completely than normal. My back has been in a gradual downslope since I hurt it in 2011, and that hasn’t changed. But my fibromyalgia comes and goes; waxes and wanes. These phases are called ‘flares’ which is an infuriating term to me. Flare implies a flash. It implies quickly coming and quickly going. Some flares are like that: my over activity causes a day or two long flare that makes life hard. Others last a week or others, months… But my most recent flare started in… October? November? And it shows no sign of letting up. These are the worst kinds of flares. They make life nearly unbearable by themselves. Combined with the rest of my health, I’ve been a train wreck. Ironically, one can have a smaller flare on top of a long term flare…. I get those too.

I’m lost because, in the past, despite my health, I’ve been able to focus on other important topics: I’ve spent a lot of time writing about political things. I’m passionate about politics, though I don’t love them like I do writing and teaching. But the world of politics has gone from ‘powerfully important’ to ‘damned, no  matter what you do.’ I haven’t had any desire to write about it lately.

So I’m lost. I want to tell the the uplifting or funny stories about my life to help others…. But I haven’t had a share of those for a while. So I want to teach about the impactful things that make a difference….. But the ability to affect change seems stripped from the good right now. I want to approach the overlying principles of faith and liberty…. But I haven’t found a medium that effectively conveys my messages (these are the competed articles that have sat in my draft folder for months: they’re boring: and I’m the one who wrote them!)

I’m lost because I don’t want my articles to be gripe fest after gripe fest about how tough things are: you get it, I know! Life is tough for everyone. But because I’m finding myself lost, I’m also finding myself without a creative outlet. I’m finding myself in deep, depressed anxiety. I’m feeling entirely unconnected with the world. I’m feeling trapped in an uncooperative body. And most defeating to my psyche, is the feeling that I have nothing left to contribute. I still have my children, and that’s no small thing: but I am left wanting to impact others besides my sons… And feeling like I never will again.

So I’m lost, and looking for a compass. 

I titled this article “being lost; finding my compass,” for two reasons. If you haven’t gathered the first yet, that I’m feeling lost…. I don’t know what to tell you 😊. But secondly, ‘finding my compass,’ rather than ‘looking for my compass,’ because I am always seeking optimism (not to be confused with always being an optimist….) finding is more hopeful than looking. (In the same vane, my dad always took us ‘catching’ rather than ‘fishing.’)

It is true that I’m looking for some grounding compass, but I have hope to be finding it soon. I don’t like being lost.

My Two Sons, and Their 3 Dads

We just celebrated Father’s Day. As is the standard on the holiday, social media was full of the praises of… Mothers? Yes, but also of fathers. 

It got me thinking: what kind of father am I? An imperfect one, with no doubt. But I wonder if one were to aka my sons, what would thier answer be? Split, I think.

So let’s talk about that.

Dad 1: the loving dad. This is the man who was there at their respective births. The loving father who beams with pride at the successes of his learning sons. This is the man who has shared his love of books and reading. The man who’s strangeness has rubbed off on boys who would rather read Percy Jackson than green eggs and ham. This is the fun dad. I’d love to think that this is the dad my sons will remember and emulate when I’m gone.

Dad 2: the broken dad. This is the dad that my toddler runs to “help” stand up when he falls. This is the dad whom my sons have learned to ignore his grunts and whimpers of pain. This is the dad that my sons are eager to serve, to help, to support… But that feels exhausting shame that any of those things are needed from mere children. This is the dad that has to constantly renig on planned fun because his body has given out long before his desire to play with his children. This is the dad that my boys will remember.

Dad 3. the emotional dad. Years of medications have removed all but 1 or 2 of the dad’s emotions. The remaining emotions include anger and loud. My boys don’t like this dad…. And neither do I. He’s a jerk. He yells altogether too much. He can be cold, and unbending. He is the disciplinarian dad. He’s the one to whom my children give a wide birth. He’s the one I resent the most. I wish he’d go away and never come back (read that in Smeagol’s voice).

And here I sit, the broken dad wishing I could always be the the loving dad. Wishing that I could kill the emotional dad. I am my son’s 3 fathers (lest anyone assume the worst of my wife). I have realized that my sons have to deal with the 3 distinctive personalities of mine (these are not like… Split personalities… Or anything…. No coats are needed for me, thank you very much. No pills to make “the voices” stop, or anything. This is a proverbial conversation, not a literal one).

There we go. Kind of a lame conversation ending. Hopefully the whole of the conversation didn’t fit into that category.

Happy Father’s Day to my fellow imperfect dads. You perfect dads should write a how to book: it’d sell well.

Oh, and a bonus “we’re actually sleeping,” selfie from my sons:

Let’s Talk Firearms: Gun Basics

In the light of any firearm related murder, the news returns to a handful of disgusting tropes. The first is the assumption that the murderer is a bigoted white man, followed by the accusation of right wing extremism, and always, always, always, followed up by a call to do something about those easily accessible scary assault weapons (a made up term to instill fear). One self purported ‘gun owning’ “journalist” called for a ban on all “AR-14’s.” He meant AR-15, as the Ar-14 is an a score model not known to… Anyone….But while gun owners roll our eyes at the ignorance spewed from the media, and even from the White House (the president recently said that the Orlando shooter had a “Glock, which had lots of clips in it…”How did this anomaly work at all?!?), as we grind our teeth at the absurd calls for the ineffective and unconstitutional bans on certain firearm types, we are left to shout at our TV’s whenever the talking heads imply that the second amendment has anything to do with hunting. The anti-gun crowd insistently repeat their drivel as if they have any concept of what they are talking about. But in the middle we have those who don’t know firearms, who didn’t know to laugh mercilessly at Tom Brokaw’s ignorant AR-14 comment, who might think that the ‘common sense gun control’ measures sound reasonable, and that couldn’t tell the difference for between a shotgun or a rifle: this post is for those people.

If we are to have a real conversation about guns, we should at least all have some idea what we’re talking about.  I don’t have any resentment to you if you are ignorant: not knowing something has no shame…. Until you try to use your ignorance as a weapon, then I have a problem.

To the knowledgeable:

So we are going talk about the basics of guns for a few minutes. There are literally tens of thousands of firearm types, models, caliber, etc. Even the most knowledgeable experts can find themselves ignorant in certain areas. So I’ll be speaking in generalities. There are always exceptions to these generalities (with tens of thousands of gun types, of course there are), but let those go, mister internet warrior 🙂 – I’m giving a rundown of firearm basics to those who don’t know.

To the unknowledgeable:

If this feels overwhelming, keep with it. I’ll try to talk in basic terms as much as possible, but even for those of us in ‘the know,’ the substantial quantity of information can be overwhelming. Be patient, reread, and even ask questions!

My qualifications:

I like to joke that I was born with a rifle in my hands. I don’t think that I was actually, but I don’t remember for sure. We’ll have to wait on my mom to weigh in on the topic. I became a NRA Certified instructor for basic courses in 2007, and have maintained those certifications since. I’ve been the range master for literally millions of rounds fired: and never had an accident on one of my ranges. I’ve studied independently most of my adult life, being fascinated by the topic. I was a police officer, and qualified top of my academy class with the tactical shot gun, and in the top 3 with a handgun. While I am not an handgun instructor, I am a gifted shot. Despite these things, I still feel like a 3 year old in an advanced physics course when my father-in-law and I talk: he’s been doing this a lot longer than me, and with much more gusto… And even he finds areas of ignorance on this topic: it’s a massive amount of information!

Types and classes:

Let’s define some terms: these may or may not be commonly used terms, but for the sake of our conversation, these are the baseline.

A firearm type, in our conversation, will refer to the basics of the gun’s function and defining characteristics.  A firearm  class, in our conversation, will refer to the basics of the rate of fire. Both are important.

Firearm classes:

The first class of firearms are called ‘Single shot‘ firearms. These guns need to be reloaded after each shot. These are popular types of guns for some hunters and for learning how to shoot. On my ranges, I use single shot guns almost exclusively as it keeps a person from firing rapidly and learning sloppy habits.

The second class of firearms are called “semi-automatic” firearms. Almost without exception, when you hear someone in public office or in media talking about ‘automatic’ guns, they are referring to semi-automatic guns (but ‘semi’ makes it sound less scary). The “automatic” part means that the gun re-loads itself after each shot, assuming that it has ammunition to use. The ‘semi’ part means that, like the single shot, the trigger must be pulled once for every shot fired. You cannot just hold down the trigger and ‘spray bullets,’ as is commonly claimed. This type of firearm is by far the preferred firearm for most applications: including hunting, personal defense, target shooting, and shooting sports.

The final class of firearms are called “automatic,” or sometimes “fully-automatic,” firearms. Like the semi-automatic guns, these guns automatically reload after each shot, but unlike semi-automatic, one can hold down the trigger and continuously fire. Most fully automatic guns have a switch to choose between semi-automatic fire, 3 round burst (or 5 on some guns) and continuous fire: the semi-automatic option means that the trigger must be pulled once for every shot. The burst fire means that one pull of the trigger will fire 3 (or 5) rounds, and continuous fire means that each pull of the trigger will fire non-stop until either the ammunition runs out, or the shooter stops pulling the trigger.

The terms “machine gun” and “assault rifle” are exclusive to the fully-automatic class of firearm: these are legal terms and cannot rightly be applied to any other class

These guns are primarily used by military and para-military forces. Some hobby shooters have them as well, but these guns were made effectively illegal during prohibition. It takes tens of thousands of dollars to become licensed to own an automatic weapon. Whenever you hear someone say that a shooter used a “machine gun” or “assault rifle” to commit a crime, you can be sure that these terms are used incorrectly. If you hear a talking head say that anyone can obtain a “deadly assault rifle” without a background check or through some sort of loophole, you can be sure that that talking head is talking out of their backside. These guns are, if for cost reasons alone, so prohibitive as to be nearly impossible for even the most avid collector to obtain. Golly, I’d love a fully automatic gun… But I can’t afford the roughly $25,000 in licensing and about the same amount in purchasing the gun itself… (Sigh)… Maybe when I’m rich… (A guy can dream, right?)

Firearm types and those common uses:
There are 3 key types of firearms – the handgun, the rifle and the shotgun.

The handgun:

Handguns are great fun for the target shooter, but less than ideal for the hunter. Many hunters carry a backup handgun in the event that they are charged by an aggressive or wounded animal and need to defend themselves in shorter range. However, the primary use of handguns has always been as defensive weapons. With some exceptions, handguns are generally considered short range weapons. accuracy begins to drop substantially outside of about 20 yards for all but the best shooters. The handgun is subdivided into three common categories:

  1. The revolver: This firearm has a spinning cylinder which holds (usually) between 5 and 7 rounds of ammunition. While it is technically classed as a ‘Single Shot’ gun, an argument could be made to classify this gun as semi-automatic. This is the traditional “old west” type of gun. It is typically slow to reload, heavy (being all metal construction) and bulky. Different models vary in how to shoot: the old western movies show the shooter pulling down the ‘hammer’ on the back – some require this action, others don’t. This is a popular style of gun, but it is less effective in defensive uses than the next category, and had thus been phased out of use in law enforcement and military use.
  2. The pistol:This firearm has a magazine holding the ammunition in the handle. This semi automatic firearm uses the force of each round to expel the brass of the used ammunition and load the next round from the handle’s magazine, making this an efficient type of gun. Like the revolver, some pistols have a hammer that must be pulled before the first shot, but unlike those revolvers, not for the next shots. More common, however, is the pistol that doesn’t need to have a cocked hammer. Having either a metal frame of a plastic polymer frame, pistols can be lighter than revolvers, and are usually less bulky. These are easily reloaded, provided one has new magazines ready to use. Because of the effectiveness, speed, weight, and bulk of this gun, it has replaced the revolver in popularity among police and military, as well as among most defensive users, and many target shooters.
  3. The derringer This firearm usually only holds 1 or 2 rounds of ammunition, requires the hammer to be pulled in order to fire, and lacks accuracy and comfort.  While this style is old and common (John Wilkes Booth used a derringer to assassinate Abraham Lincoln), they are not the preferred gun of many. The primary advantages of this gun are that they are lightweight and small, making them easier to carry in a concealed setting…. but they are impractical in almost every other way.

The Shotgun:

Shotguns great for many uses. They are my preferred target gun. Generally, shotguns are the best guns for hunting small game including rabbit, squirrel, pheasant, and all other types of birds. By simply changing the ammunition type in a shotgun, they can also be used effectively against some large game such as deer. Shotguns provide excellent defensive use for short to mid range distances. Depending on the ammunition type, shotguns lose effectiveness between 50 and 100 yards.

Unlike handguns, shotguns are considered a ‘long gun.’ as the name suggests, they are longer than handguns. Generally a shotgun is brought to the shoulder and uses both hands to fire. There are both single shot and semi-automatic shotguns available to the public (fully-automatic exist as well, but are functionally illegal in the US, as previously discussed). These can have several different looks:

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From the Traditional looking ‘over-under’ double barrel shotgun;
affinity-semi-auto-shotgun
to the more modern looking semi-automatic sporting shotgun:
H5G_Render_Shotgun
To the impressive looking semi-automatic tactical shotgun

Each of the above guns is functionally similar. The top is a single shot gun, while both of the bottom two are semi-automatic shotguns. They are cosmetically different, having different intended uses, but (the bottom two particularly) are functionally the same.

 

The shotgun, unlike both the handgun and the rifle, generally has a smooth bore, which is the inside of the gun’s barrel. This decreases the effective range, but increases the variability of ammunition from a single gun. A single shotgun can shoot dozens of small BBs, called shot, in one round (bird-shot is the smallest, and holds the greatest amount), or can shoot eight or nine 9mm ball bearings (called buck-shot, used often for deer hunting, as a defensive ammunition, and is a favorite of law enforcement), or can shoot a single lead slug which can be almost 18mm in diameter (used for big-game hunting and defensive use: slugs have the greatest range of all shotgun ammunition) – all without any modifications to the gun itself, but simply by changing out the ammunition! This versatility makes the shotgun a favorite for many.

The Rifle:

Rifles are great for all uses. They are a lot of fun for target shooters. For hunting large game, including deer, elk, bear, and large cats, the rifle is the ideal gun. For defensive purposes, this type of gun is the best all around weapon. These can also be used for offensive purposes. The number of rifle types is substantial, and they can be modified to fit the specific needs of their particular shooter. Rifle’s have the longest effective range of the three gun types. I can think of one particular sniper shot, in Afghanistan, which was over a mile! Even excellent shooters, however, typically lose effectiveness outside of a couple hundred yards, depending on the gun.

Like the shotgun, the rifle is a long gun. And like the handgun, the rifle has a twisted bore, called ‘rifling,’ which is were it gets its name. This twisting spins the bullet as it leaves the gun, giving increased accuracy and range vs smooth bored guns. The advent of rifling changed history, and the Kentucky Long Rifle, known for its accuracy and range, helped to win the revolutionary war.

Rifles, like handguns, (but unlike shotguns) shoot bullets, rather than shot (varied sizes of BBs) or slugs.

Like shotguns and handguns, rifles can have many different appearances. And, like shotguns and handguns, can vary in classification from single shot to fully automatic. Here are several examples of the variation between rifle appearances:

To the untrained eye, one might see in the top picture a military weapon, designed for the use in war. The second might be seen as a target shooting gun, or for use in shooting cans. The third, to the untrained eye, may look just like a standard hunting rifle.

But the truth is that the 3 guns above are all functionally identical. The top image has hundreds (or thousands) of dollars worth of extra ‘stuff’ on it to customize it for the owner, the second image is what one might call the “stock options” and the third has replaced the grips and stock with wood finished parts for a pleasant look (I prefer the wood look myself), but all 3 are semi-automatic, AR-15 rifles.

So we see that what a gun LOOKS like is far less important that what the media tells us. If we listened to the talking heads, the gun on top would be the most dangerous by far! But that, again, shows either the ignorance or the dishonesty of the agenda-driven media and the politicians pushing for “common-sense control measures.”

 

Next time I do an article like this, I’ll focus on ammunition types. Like guns, there are tens of thousands of ammunition types, but there are a handful of basic rules

Presenting Definitive Proof of Aliens

Those who know me know that I have a poor immune system. I’ve often joked, though not inaccurately, that I get sick if someone looks at me wrong. You can make a bet that if someone I come into contact with is ill, I will be within days.

Apart from easily getting sick, it takes me a long time to recover. Rather than the normal 7-10 days of recovery for the average cold, it takes me around 3 weeks, and then almost always followed up by a new cold within a month. I scoff at ‘flu season,’ and name it ‘the year.’

But since last fall, the duration of my illnesses has reduced substantially, and despite going to the gym every day in that time, and doing an hour of cardio followed by an hour of pool therapy, exposing myself to everybody at the gym, despite those things, I have not gotten as frequently ill.

Even taking away frequent pleasures like chocolate cake and ice cream, my body has been able to effectively fight against the plague that is my ‘normal,’ even without the happiness brought by the afore mentioned chocolate.

My only conclusion, therefore, is that some time last fall I must have been abducted by benevolent extra terrestrial beings who have modified my immune system to more effectively keep me healthy (though, I wish that they’d have done a bit more on that front, as I still get sick more than the normal person, and for longer).  Really if you take away every other possibility, the only reasonable answer is ‘Aliens.’

So there you have it folks: definitive, though anecdotal, proof of the existence of aliens!

I’ll go reward myself with some chocolate cake and wait for the men in black suits to come get me.

Game of Thrones Burnout

I like watching game of thrones, or at least I did… Until they started getting rid of all of my favorite characters and killing the good guys.

Now you’ve got an evil queen trying to keep power fighting a psychotic narcissist who will use the ‘little people’ to overthrow the royalty. The people don’t even know that they’re just pawns.

I really want to just return to the north and enjoy the relative peace there… But now it’s being taken over by those who want nothing more than to control every action of every person! There’s just no escape!

Wait… Is that game of thrones? Or the political world? Im losing the ability to tell the difference….

Nathaniel’s Writings

We have an iPad. Use it simultaneously for Ezra’s homeschool lessons, my creative writing, and Nathaniel’s entertainment. When we go to the gym in the mornings, I spend the first half of my workout on the cycles to keep my heart from giving out under the strain of my substantial girth… I take the iPad with me to make lesson plans, write, or apartment hunt. Then I give it to Nathaniel at the daycare while I’m in the pool doing mobility exercises.

This morning, as I dropped Nathaniel off in the daycare. He reached for the iPad and said to me “dad, I think I’d like to have the iPad to do some writing.”

Completely matter-of-fact.

The boy is 3.

He can’t read.

He can’t write.

But his cuteness got him the iPad this morning for the purpose of ‘writing.’

It appears he’s actually watching YouTube kids, as I expected… But the cute price was paid, so I’m writing on my phone.

My son is cute.

That is all.

😊

Mohicans, Movies, and Melancholy 

Last night I watched the Last of the Mohicans. Today I thought I would do something I haven’t done before so…let’s do a movie review and a societal opinion piece!

First, a synopsis: the 1992 film is based off of the 1826 novel of the same name by James Fenimore Cooper and takes place during the height of the French and Indian War. The movie specifically covers the days surrounding the historical massacre near Fort William Henry, where Huron troops fell upon the surrendered British troops killing and carrying away somewhere between 150 and 1500 effectively unarmed British soldiers and citizens alike (records vary as to the exact number).

Let’s talk about the obvious: yes, Mom, I know it’s rated ‘R,’ I won’t make excuses for myself, but I will point out that, made today, I doubt it would be. While having some blood, it has next to no gore (excepting 1 singular part involving a human heart which is implied to have been eaten,) it has no sex, though some passionate kissing. It has no vulgar language to speak of (quite a feat considering this is the same generation of film as ‘Goonies,’ and ‘While You Were Sleeping,’ which, dispute being family shows, are filled to the brim with vulgarity – seriously, I didn’t even notice it growing up). The reason for the rating is the realistic, though bloodless depiction of war – a siege, a massacre and a half dozen battles being integral to the film. Because of its rating, I won’t recommend that just anyone watch the film, but we’ll continue.

First the bad:

The film doesn’t spend enough time developing the characters. Consequently, despite being an overall tragedy, I didn’t become emotionally invested in the majority of the characters.

The film relies heavily on 1 or 2 camera shots (not exclusively, just reuses them) Since we’re 3 decades out, I won’t feel bad about spoilers here: much of the film happens on cliff sides, and the under-camera-angle-as-someone-falls/jumps/is pushed-off-the-cliff-and-flies-through-the-air is used almost to the extent of being comedic.

The Mohican tribe was neither extinct by the end of the 7 year war, nor are they extinct today. The tribal spokesmen have said of the book, it’s subsequent films, shows, radio dramas, graphic novels, and graphic novellas that the implication of extinction of the tribe has been harmful.

The main character once reloads his flintlock rifle while running up a steep hill (plausible) and completes said reload in a matter of less than 20 seconds (difficult at best while standing, nearly impossible while moving).

Now the controversial:

The theme music is amazing. No, seriously, just absolutely stunning. As in, the theme of the music plays through all of the title’s score, being simultaneously varied enough to bear frequent repetition and powerful enough to hold its own.

The controversy? In my never-so-humble opinion, the theme music is the best epic film score of the generation, beating out anything ever written by the masterful John Williams. Let the hate mail commence.

Finally the good:

This story is stellar. Despite the lack of character development, which isn’t really fair, as the characters do develop, but it’s a lack of character buy in, the story is compelling and powerful.

The historicity of the film is powerful and well balanced with the fictional main characters.

The filmography is stunning: it beautifully depicts New York State before the Revolution (in truth, it was largely shot in the Carolinas, as New York is no longer luscious and green so much as gray and concrete).

I’ve already talked about he music, but it is so good, its merits bear repeating.

The costuming and weaponry are both historically accurate: a big deal when we consider Roman soldiers at Troy… Not that any film has ever stupidly done something like that!

The main character’s flintlock rifle is sexy. I may write more about the weapons of American Liberty later…because that topic interests me.

The fight scenes don’t look fake, nor do they look overly choreographed; one of the major faults of most historical fiction films is over or under choreographing the fights.

I’m so intrigued by the story, that I’ve downloaded the book, and began reading it last night. It’s that good.

In Summary:

The story is sad, as is implied by the title. It is powerfully acted. I caught very little campiness, which is saying a lot. The romance is condensed but not forced.

But today I feel a bit melancholy. In reality, I was right after the movie, but I want to attempt to express why:

The late 80’s and early 90’s had a bunch of great films depicting the colonizing of the West; the fight for freedom; and the founding of our Nation. I’m disappointed that we haven’t seen many films in the last couple decades doing the same. It’s not like we’ve exhausted the repertoire of good period stories, and even if we had, don’t some of them certainly bear retelling?

The sadness enters here: that the market has not demanded stories of American exceptionalism. As a society, we’ve bought, lock-stock-and-barrel (a term from the days of the flint lock rifle, incidentally), the lie that America is no better, and likely worse, than any other nation before. We’ve bought into the re-written history that the pilgrims were genocidal maniacs. I’m sad that we have sat back and watched… No… Paid for… The complete re-writing of our history, our culture, and our very way of life. We’ve written out God. We’ve written out personal accountability and common sense. We’ve condemned rugged individualism. We sold out our pilgrim, pioneer, and explorer history. Like some of our fore-bearers, we’ve looked upon the decadence, laziness, and communal living of European aristocracy and lusted for it.

When I was a boy, some of my favorite stories included My Side of the Mountain and Robinson Crusoe, both adventure stories about people or persons who left society and made their own way (deliberately or not). Not only have we turned that fantasy into a taboo, we’ve regulated the possibility out of existence: we’ve had the government overstep the bound of our founding, crippling the “Dreams” of America.

That makes me sad.

Thus the movie made me a bit sad.

I look forward to teaching my boys about the Iroquois and Wabanaki confederations. I look forward to teaching my boys about the pilgrims and pioneers. I hope to give them even a taste of the wilderness and wanderlust I’ve held my whole life. I fear that Liberty will be lost by and to my generation, but I hope to give the desire for it to my boys, that my grandchildren may know it again.