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From the Notebook

A picture of Russel Kirk

A picture of Russel Kirk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

– Veteran Preference bills. One passed in Minnesota, allowing companies to create their own veteran hiring programs, giving preference to returning vets for jobs. I don’t believe in artificial preferences, ever. But, I would, if I were a hiring manager, prefer to hire vets anyway, due to their experiences and work ethic. I’ve worked with veterans and they’re great. But, as always, there are individual differences that need to be noted. Also, bills like this don’t solve the problem. Something is keeping hiring managers and HR types from hiring vets; vets face double the unemployment rate as the rest of the population. And that needs to be addressed, and I doubt the solution can come from government; it will have to come from business schools.

– Having a great difficulty writing. For about a decade I could reliably punch out a thousand words a day. The well has dried up. I’m trying to find a way to salvage a hobby I really care about and that has been the focus of my life for so long, but it’s getting tough. Once you get on the wrong side of the age/accomplishment curve, unless there’s real money at stake, your hobbies are going to die. There are a few short stories I’m going to finish, there’s also a novel I’d like to finish. And maybe a series or two of blogposts. But even those meager projects seem impossibly optimistic.

– Like everyone else, I struggle with my weight. I’ve been trying a new way to control my calorie intake. On average, a person needs 2000 calories a day. More, you gain; less, you lose. For an active male, 90 calories an hour is our balance point. So, I’ve been trying to eat 90 calories an hour, for every hour I’m awake. I have a four-hour breakfast, a four-hour lunch, and a four-hour dinner (all around 400 calories total). I allow some snacks to get to about 20 hours. And I stop there. So, I keep my calorie intake above the starvation-point (where your metabolism gets out of whack) and below the static-weight mark. It’s been just two weeks, but I’ve seen good progress. In order to stay full, I avoid dense calorie foods (like candy) and stick to more filling foods (fruits and vegetables and grains) so I don’t feel hungry. Now I’m waiting to see where I plateau, and from there I might adjust the calorie intake again (maybe down to 80 calories an hour). This seems easier than trying to track everything you eat all day in a diary; you only need to remember how many hours you’ve eaten or have left. The only simpler method is to try what Aaron Gleeman did, prepare a giant batch of food (in his case, rice) and eat from that batch all day.

– Watched the documentary “An Inconvenient Tax” (on Hulu) about our country’s income tax system. Conclusion? our tax code is really awful. But what is worse is when you add in state and local taxes, along with regulations. Once you have complicated taxes and regulations at every level, everywhere, you prevent growth. And this is where we are at now. We have a regulatory structure that is unnavigable, a tax structure that is incomprehensible, and an education system that is unreformable. This is a perfect storm for economic disaster. Other countries can reform and evolve (and many have, in fact) and send capital away from us, and impoverish us. And that’s bad.

– Saw “The Avengers” over the weekend. In 3D. And was really impressed. Other than some basic stupid (flying aircraft carriers) and bad physics (how many G’s can Stark take in that suit? 50?), the movie was very enjoyable. And it always pains me to give a movie a good review. In general, the fear of bedbugs keeps me from attending movies at theatres (seriously, research that, scary stuff), this movie is worth the risk.

Books read:

Douglas Hyde, Dedication and Leadership; Hyde was a former communist who ran a communist newspaper. In this slim volume, he explains the tactics communists use to achieve their goals using the resources they have at hand. Hyde wants these tactics to be adopted by Christians (the ethical tactics, that is). As a manual for leadership, this book is pretty good.

Russell Kirk, The Conservative Mind; This was one of the greatest books I have ever read. It’s a survey of conservative thought since Edmund Burke, but it is also an intellectual and historical apologia for conservatism and a call to action for all conservative-minded individuals to devote themselves to defending and preserving ‘The Permanent Things’. This book will be near me for the rest of my life.

-Chris Kyle, American Sniper; Kyle was a SEAL sniper who operated in Iraq for a majority of the conflict, including the Battle of Fallujah. In his career, he recorded more sniper kills than any other American ever has. But the book is more than just a diary of a successful soldier. Through clear and concise prose, Kyle presents the realities of our war in the Middle East. It’s a brutal affair, no quarter is given by either side. There’s an intensity to this book absent from other war memoirs I have read. I’ll leave it at that. It’s a definite “to read” if you have interest in the subject area.



The Great Recession took a sledgehammer to young job-seekers. As a Rutgers University study released this week reported, only half — 51 percent — of college graduates since 2006 are employed full-time. Eleven percent of them, the study found, are unemployed — a figure well above the national rate of 8.1 percent. Another 12 percent are working part-time.

Read that again, then tell me going to college will make you wealthy. The rules have changed.


Justifiable Homicide

Keith Ellison on 9-21-06, taken by user.

Keith Ellison on 9-21-06, taken by user. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Trayvon Martin shooting has put ‘Stand Your Ground’ legislation at the center of the national second-amendment/self-defense debate. Among others, Keith Ellison has raised the issue of these laws at the national level:

Democrats backed off of their effort Tuesday to offer a “Trayvon amendment” to pressure states to drop their stand-your-ground laws after learning it was likely to be ruled out of order under the evening’s rules for debate on the House floor.

Rep. Keith Ellison, Minnesota Democrat, said he will still try to force a debate at a more “appropriate” time in the future, saying action is demanded by the case of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teenager who police said was shot dead in a street encounter with a neighborhood watch volunteer.

The Ellison amendment would have docked federal criminal justice grants to states that have stand-your-ground laws, which allow residents to use deadly force to respond to an attack without first having to retreat.

Ellison et al. cite the increase in ‘justifiable homicides’ in recent years as a reason to re-evaluate these laws.

So, I looked up the numbers, and they’re right. Justifiable homicides are up:

But look closely at the graph. If Justifiable homicides are up because of ‘stand your ground’ (SYG) laws, we should see independence between private citizens and police, i.e. there should be a lack of correlation between the two groups of people. Police are held to a different standard than private citizens; they are expected to approach dangerous situations, and don’t have the option of retreat or avoidance. Thus police are given more leeway (and rightfully so).

Wait! Those are old numbers!

Here are some more recent numbers from Florida:

Again, check out the high correlation between police and citizens.

So why are police and private citizen numbers so closely correlated? The two lines are nearly identical in shape. In theory, there should be an increase in justifiable homicides among private citizens with no corresponding increase in police shootings. But that isn’t the case.

It is my opinion that other factors are at work. Either demographics are shifting, crime rates vary (maybe copper thievery comes into vogue, reducing the number of violent encounters) or something else is going on. A state by state study looking at the rates of justifiable homicide before and after SYG laws would give us a clearer answer. Perhaps a small relationship can be found. Even if that happens, it is still important to remember justifiable homicides are deemed such for normally good reasons. A ‘justifiable homicide’ is when an attempted homicide goes bad for the bad guy. Overrall, violent crime is down across the country. Increased guns and carry permit holders might be part of the reason. We should not surrender the civil right to self-defense because of one very sad incident, as painful as it might be for those involved.

(Here’s another interesting post on the subject. The main takeway being how small the change has been over the past decade and how details are lost in the reporting.)

Learn the Rules, Play to Win

– The Ron Paul crowd has done very well in the Minnesota Caucus process, taking 20 of 24 allotted national delegates (with the state convention coming up where they’re likely to pick up even more delegates).[don’t feel sorry for the ousted BPOU chairs]

If you’re not expanding your BPOU’s reach, you’re contracting, and deserve to be replaced.