Killing in cold blood

Reading Knappster today (“Surf Naked for Jesus” why did you change that?) Ran across his entry on the 1000th death penalty victim. I don’t shed tears for murderers, whether they work for themselves or the state, but I do have one point I’d like to make.

The quote is:

“For some reason, apart from my general opposition to capital punishment (which pretty much comes down to “I can’t trust politicians to deliver mail on time; why the hell would I trust them to decide who needs killin’?”), I didn’t find “Tookie’s” case exceptionally compelling. Maybe if I’d studied the case more closely I would have, but I let it go by because … well, pretty much because a lot of people more prominent, more educated in the facts of the case and more interested had already taken it up. So. Anyway. Another state-sanctioned killing under the bridge.”

(emphasis added)

I can define my opposition to the death penalty quite easily. The government should not be allowed to do anything that individuals within the society are not allowed to do. Killing in self defense is allowed, and cops and prison guards should be armed (and forgiven) for actions taken in ‘self defense’ of themselves and ‘society’.

But, I have a hard time believing that an unarmed prisoner strapped to a gurney (or a chair, depending on your states murder predilection) presents any kind of a threat. And the killing of that person can only be counted as murder, making us no better than the murderer that we have exacted justice upon.

Life imprisonment without the possibility of parole is preferable, in my opinion, than making myself party to murder; even if the man that we are killing “needed it”.


Mea culpa review 2017. I know I’m not a libertarian anymore because I feel no need to utter the word state when I mean government. When you need special words to describe the thing you hate, so that people like you can understand what you mean, you have started down the road to mass hallucination. However, the subject of killing in cold blood remains largely the same for me as it was back in the 90’s when I convinced myself I was a libertarian.

This post was updated in in 2017

East of “the Great Wall”

I always bristle when the average Austinite speaks up and disparages the East side of Austin. There’s this general impression of the East side (East of I-35, the “Great Wall”) as being a trouble spot, where criminals run rampant and the residents cower in terror.

I’ve lived in East Austin for about 15 years now, and I prefer it to any other portion of Austin. Imagine my mirth when I stumbled across this site today: http://www.incidentlog.com/lookup.pl?Src=81

In case you are wondering, the big blank spot on the East side of Austin is my ‘neighborhood’. Ah, I really love being right sometimes. Wish it happened more often.

30,000 silver dollars for a house?

The image to the right is intended to be placed on a t-shirt.
It contains a simple statement about value and how to retain it.
Pretty innocuous, don’t you think?

Looks can be deceiving….

One of the members to the list this image was a part of wrote:

The statement is false. $30,000.00 in silver 1 .oz at time will not buy a house in my market…won’t even touch it besides the fact no one would take payment for a house in silver liberty. Just an evaluation.

Being bored, and wanting to make a few people think, I wrote the following:

If you had saved 30,000 dollars in silver dollars, as minted by the US prior to the 60’s (which was 1 dollar for 1 ounce) you would have 300,000 dollars in silver coins (at least) today. Enough to buy a house in almost any market. That was the point being made; silver retains value, which makes the statement true. I would be willing to bet that a deal could be made in which silver can be exchanged for property. Most people who own property understand what real value is.

-RAnthony

Then this flew out of the peanut gallery:

The math is off here… Most US silver dollars (Morgan’s, Peace) have a net silver content of .77344 per $1(This is a higher content than the pre-65 dimes, quarters and halfs). 30,000 times .77344 equals 23,203.2 ounces of silver times $7oz equals $162,422.40. This amount is further contingent on someone actually giving you spot.
Return on investment(real inflation maybe?)
Annualized Return: 4.31%
Return for the entire period: 440.80%
Starting date: 9/8/1965
Starting value: $30,000.00
Ending date: 9/8/2005
Ending value: $162,422.40

My response “whatever, enough to buy a house” lead to a rather lengthy exchange concerning house values, the definition of “return“, the definition of “Dream House”, the questionable parental blood lines of parties to the argument, the sexual practices of those involved, etc. and ad nauseam (the average flame war) which then ended up with this:

I’m beating a dead horse here, but I like horse paste, I guess. All the bitching about what the value of silver coins from 40 years ago would be today lead me to investigate what was available 40 years ago, and what it would be worth today.

If you go here there is a description of what was available, coinage wise, and why, during the period being referenced.

So the coins that were available (and at face value then) were the Morgan and Peace dollars. Referencing the price guides at the links above, and going with the lowest price listed (15 dollars, if I’m not mistaken) for a silver dollar of that era, we get a rough value for 30,000 silver dollars being something in the realm of 450,000 dollars, not the 300,000 thousand that I originally estimated. As you can see, I was being conservative in my estimate.

Of course, the coins would probably have to be sold at auction, and so the value might be lower, but then there would be the odd coin that would have a greater value, and so the value might also be higher.

…BUT, even given the (inflated) average value for a house in the US as stated by others, 225,000 dollars, you could clearly buy a ‘better than average’ house (a ‘dream house’ in the estimation of the average person) with 30,000 silver dollars saved for 40 years.

With that argument, gentlemen, I rest my case. πŸ˜‰

-RAnthony

There was, of course, another explosion from the peanut gallery (something about my mother, I’m sure) but I consider the case closed. I’m probably mistaken though.

Why? Because this sort of stuff can just keep cropping up:

This might provide a more easily comprehensible example to those of us who have not been 29 for 35 or so years.
When I was in high school, (58, 59, 60, and 61) you could go into any bank and exchange Federal Reserve Notes in any denomination for Silver Dollars (also known at the time as “Cartwheels”. They contain 371.?? grains of fine silver and some other metals to make them wear better as circulating coins. They were therefore 90% silver as required by the U.S. Constitution and the 1792 Coinage Act made in pursuance thereof. They were honest weights and measures.Convertibility into silver was stopped in 1964.
Had you, in 1963 placed 3,000 Silver Dollars into one Safe Deposit Box and 3000 one-dollar Federal Reserve Notes in another Safe Deposit Box, and still had them today, you could make this comparison.
In 1963, If memory serves, you could buy a fully loaded mid-line Chevy for about $3000.00. (remember, you could convert paper to silver and silver to paper then one-for-one)
If you went to your Safe Deposit Boxes today, and drew out those two stashes of $3000.00, the 3000.00 silver dollars would still buy you a brand new mid line Chevy (because you could convert them into $30,000.00 in Federal reserve notes by selling them at current market prices.)
However, the 3000 Federal Reserve Note “dollars” that you took out of the other Safety Deposit Box, would probably scarcely buy you much more than a nice set of wheels, tires and wheel covers.

The U.S. “Government” has become the greatest enemy of Freedom and Prosperity ever to exist on this planet. It smashes and crushes Liberty everywhere; like a plague of Locusts it consumes everything its path, leaving “scorched earth” and rotting bodies behind, all the while, grinning like some evil clown and proclaiming that it is trying to “Spread Freedom” to all peoples.
It is effectively a parasite which is like a vampire that has learned not to immediately kill the host; but simply drink it’s blood a little at a time, keeping it weak and emaciated but still retaining it as a food source.
The Federal Reserve admits that the income tax is NOT to raise revenue to run the government, but is primarily to facilitate the “re-distribution of income.” What do they mean by that? What they mean by that in plain English is that it’s purpose is to raise money to buy votes with and thereby enable it to continue it’s consumption of all that is good in America.
America today is like a once robust, but gaunt, weak and sickly “Paul Bunyan”, lumbering along – unaware of the giant vampire bat attached to the back of his neck. The Vampire (U.S. Government) grows bigger and stronger by the day and will soon be larger than the host. It, like any parasite, will continue to feed until the host dies, unless the gentle giant awakens to his plight and removes the Vampire from his neck.

I mean, it never ends, does it? Now I have to go fight a vampire federal government, when all I was worried about was some newbies question about a t-shirt design involving using US silver dollars to buy a house…

Supreme Court to Review Texas Redistricting

Texas Republicans in control of the state legislature shifted congressional district boundaries enough in 2003 that 8 million people β€” including large blocks of Hispanics β€” were placed in new districts, represented by different U.S. House members, justices were told.
Kennedy, a centrist swing voter, focused his concerns on how the shift affected Hispanics in South Texas. “It seems to me that is an affront and an insult,” he said.
The Texas boundaries were changed after Republicans took control of both houses of the state Legislature. DeLay had helped GOP legislative candidates in 2002, and was a key player in getting the new map that benefited him and other Republican incumbents.
Since then, however, he has struggled from the fallout. He was charged in state court with money laundering in connection with fundraising for legislative candidates. He gave up his leadership post and is fighting the charges.
DeLay also was admonished by the House ethics committee for asking a federal agency to help track aircraft that flew several Democrats out of state as part of quorum-breaking walkouts during the bitter fight over maps.
Justices did not mention DeLay, and he was not in the crowded courtroom.

Austin American Statesman, High Court Tackles Political Boundry Case
March 2, 2006

Supreme Court of Texas contact info

Computer redistricting. Anything else is Gerrymandering. Strangely enough, this is old news. What I want to know is, why didn’t the state act on the following two years ago?


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TESTIMONY FOR NON-PARTISAN REDISTRICTING

Austin, Texas, July 2, 2003 — The Texas House of Representatives Committee on Redistricting heard testimony today from members of the Coalition for Non-partisan Redistricting, Robert Howard, Jon Roland, and Patrick Dixon.

A video clip of the testimony can be viewed online at http://www.house.state.tx.us/fx/av/committee78/30702p38.ram. To view it you will need a viewer such as RealPlayer from http://www.real.com. See also http://www.house.state.tx.us/committees/redistricting.php.

In their testimony, the witnesses rejected not just the proposed new redistricting map, but the map used in the last election as well, and asked the Legislature to adopt a new method of obtaining district maps that is impersonal and not subject to human tampering or political manipulation. Instead of debating and adopting particular maps, the act would provide the specifications for the computer program, called Target, to use in drawing the map, and whatever map the computer produced would be the official map to be used in the next election.

The witnesses explained that each time the computer program is run, it produces a different map. The process is random. But all of the maps will meet the specifications. If anyone doesn’t like the maps, they should advocate different specifications. But any such specifications would be explicit and subject to public debate and judicial scrutiny.

Roland suggested that if the Legislature is concerned about the computer producing anomalous maps, the proposal could be modified to have the computer generate, say, a dozen maps, and then have a certain number of “strikes”, as are used to exclude prospective jurors during jury selection, to be applied by various members of the Legislature to eliminate some maps. The final selection would then be made from among the remaining maps by random lot.

Roland emphasized that this controversy threatens the precious bipartisan collegiality that has prevailed in Texas for more than a century, which allows legislative proposals from all parties and factions to be considered on their merits. If we allow such devisive issues to shatter that tradition, the result may be that only proposals by the leaders of the dominant party will have any chance of being heard. The result would not favor good or efficient government.

The proposal is at http://www.constitution.org/reform/us/tx/redistrict/cnpr_proposal.htm.

The Texas Legislative Council site is http://www.tlc.state.tx.us/

For a demonstration of the computer software see
http://txliberty.dyndns.org/inetpub/wwwroot/webfiles/LL030517H.rm

Out of the frying pan…

So, we had a freeze last night that involved ice on the roads. In Austin, this is nearly a freak occurrence; something that only happens once every few years. They had the cops and emergency services out in force..


I heard a pretty funny quote from one of the Highway maintenance people. They were going to apply a special chemical “prophylactically” (his exact word, I kid you not) to keep ice off the roads. He had the guys at the radio station scratching their heads about it for about an hour.


…Covering all the bridges and generally creating a confused mess. In the midst of all this, I try and make my way home. Nearly there, I come across one of the helpful public servants who has parked his neon yellow vehicle across the 4 lane bridge and is directing traffic…

…Directing traffic onto the FLY-OVER RAMP! Single lane, 30 feet higher in the air than the bridge he had so helpfully closed with his vehicle. And he couldn’t figure out why I wouldn’t follow his directions, if you can believe that.

I did finally make it home (obviously) but it makes a great point about government assistance, doesn’t it? Really guys, I appreciate the thought, but I’d like to be allowed to make my own decisions. If it isn’t too much trouble. OK?

Well actually I’m going to do it anyway, just thought I would ask first.

“Righteous indignation”

I’ve been meaning to write this one for awhile. I dragged myself out to vote November Eighth. I do this every time an election rolls around, not because I think my vote will be counted properly (another rant in the making) and not because I think it will change anything (most of the issues go the other direction by hefty majorities. I blame it on education) I do it because it gives me a license to bitch when the will of the majority goes awry. As it has in the past. As it will this time around too.

With the passage of Prop. 2 here in Texas, the majority has officially endorsed the end of “equality before the law”. What do I mean by that? Quite simply, they have stated that certain individuals have more rights than others, according to law. That if you cohabitate with ‘A’ member of the opposite sex, you can declare what you have a ‘marriage’, and claim the privilege that come along with it. Things like tax exemptions, health insurance coverage for ‘family members’, etc. Things not available to people who happen to cohabitate with any number of other people (no matter what sex they are) for whatever reason. Prop. 2 writes into the Texas Constitution that a household formed of one man and one woman has rights that others in the state don’t have, setting up preferential treatment for a specific portion of the population. Some of us (and since I’m one of the special people who happens to cohabitate with a woman, I’m one of ‘us’. Go figure) have more rights than others, and it’s written right into the ‘law of the land’. Equal before the law? Not any more.

How dare they put their faith above everything else? “Marriage is Sacred” they say. Then why can it be performed by a judge? It’s just another contractual arrangement now, no matter what it was in ancient times. If they wanted to retain the ‘sacred’ rites of marriage, then they should never have allowed the government to take part in the rites at all. It should only be performed in a church.

Back at the dawn of the internet, I used to spend time arguing on various forums on CompuServe (back when I was simply known as 71613,115@compuserve.com, before AOL bought the company and gutted it of its hardware) on the Gay and Lesbian forum I had several arguments with well intentioned people who were convinced that they needed special laws to protect them. I only ceased arguing with them when they provided proof that they were still persecuted in modern day America. I ceased to argue with them, but my views have not changed. There should not be ‘special’ laws for any group in America. Not for Gays, not for Women, not for Minorities; and most definitely not for ‘Marriage’.

I was, and still am outraged at this; especially in light of the ‘straight’ majority in Texas having now added one more misbegotten and meaningless amendment to the Texas constitution (a document that with each passing election shouts it’s need for complete replacement; just try reading it sometime) that will most likely backfire as have most of the ones before it. And I really hope it does. Just waiting for that case that opens the can of worms. “What do you mean, no marriages are ‘legal’ in the state of Texas? How could that be?”

Charges in fatal dog attack not likely, sheriff says

The story as it appeared in the Austin American Statesman (which has since removed it from the archive):

AUSTIN, Texas β€” The owner of six dogs that fatally mauled an elderly woman as she worked in her yard will likely not be charged with a serious crime, Milam County Sheriff Charlie West said Monday.

West said that he has consulted with District Attorney Kerry Spears and that they have been unable to conclude that owner Jose Hernandez committed a felony.

“There are no laws that apply,” West said. “We are still looking, but it is going to be hard to make anybody responsible for it.”

Five of the dogs were euthanized Monday; the victim’s husband shot the other dog.

West has said that Hernandez apparently kept the six pit bull-Rottweiler mixed-breed dogs in a pen behind a 3-foot chain-link fence. It was not clear how they got out of the pen.

Hernandez could not be reached Monday, two days after the dogs attacked and killed Lillian Stiles, 76, as she was tending her yard and flowers atop a riding lawn mower. Her body was taken to Dallas for an autopsy, which officials said had not been completed Monday.

Stiles’ husband Jack was inside their house north of Thorndale, Texas, about 50 miles northeast of Austin, watching a football game when the attack occurred. Two passersby, Weldon and Maurita Smith, saw Lillian Stiles’ body in her yard and tried to help.

Weldon Smith also was attacked and injured before Jack Stiles shot one of the dogs.

West said the euthanized dogs were sent to the Texas Department of State Health Services for rabies and other testing.

West said Hernandez is cooperating with the investigation and has said that his knee-high grandchildren have played with the dogs.

He said investigators have no indication that the dogs were being used for fighting and that a veterinarian who examined them said they had no signs of “war-like injuries,” such as cuts or broken bones.

“To him (Hernandez), the dogs weren’t vicious,” West said. “They were just pets.”

In 2003, the most recent year with available statistics, 288 people were hospitalized for dog bites and one person died, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Hernandez’s house, down a dirt driveway from the road that runs in front of the Stiles’ property, appeared empty Monday afternoon. A nearly full 50-pound bag of dog kibble sat on the screened porch and the gate one the fenced yard had a metal “T” painted with the visage of a bulldog β€” the Thorndale school district mascot.

The Stiles’ next-door neighbors reported seeing a big black dog near Lillian Stiles around 3:40 p.m. Saturday as they returned from Cameron.

“Oh, they’ve got a new dog,” Lauren Shumaker said she told her husband, Don. The couple said they had never seen a pack of dogs along the road.

Jimmy Hinistroza, pastor at San Gabriel Evangelistic Christian Church, lives immediately north of Hernandez’s house and said he saw two of the six dogs at the church’s property line early Saturday afternoon. He shooed a black Rottweiler away, he said, but the other one β€” a pit bull β€” “kept staring at me.”

“I’ve seen those two dogs many a time,” Hinistroza said. “I’d never seen the pack. I never knew this man had other pit bulls. If I’d have known, I would have talked to him because I know what pit bulls can do.”

Children routinely hike several acres of turf behind the church on Sunday afternoons, he said, but he temporarily barred anyone from going outside Sunday because the shot dog had yet to be found; the dog’s body turned up in the Stiles’ back yard.

“It could have been worse if all those children were out there,” Hinistroza said.

Hinistroza dedicated his Sunday sermon to Lillian Stiles, whom he described as a fixture on her rider mower, tending a lawn and garden that “looks like a little paradise,” Hinistroza said. “We all loved her.”

The following is a letter I wrote expressing my outrage at this travesty.


To: Kerry Spears [District attorney for Milam County]

This is an outrage. According to the reports that I have heard, the dogs were kept behind a fence that was just over 3 feet tall, they attacked in a coordinated pack (as if they were used to hunting together) and they killed a woman in her own front yard. They also attacked a would-be rescuer.

…and there isn’t anything to charge the dog owner with? Manslaughter? Criminal negligance? Anything? The fence was of insuffcient height to keep the animals contained, they had been trained to attack in a pack (or had been foraging enough to have learned the behavior) and they have a registered owner. I don’t know what else is needed to charge the man with SOMETHING.

I for one am sick and tired of this mantra that we “don’t have a law to cover this” (as if dog attacks are something new to the 21st century) You are tasked with upholding the law and seeing that justice is done in your county. This woman’s death will be on your heads as much as the dog owners if nothing is done about it now.


If you also feel the urge to send a comment to the District attorney in Milam county, you’ll have to send it by fax or snail mail. Only the Sheriff’s office has a working email address. Even the commissioners court is without internet service, apparently. Talk about not being in the 21st century.

Your ALD and ELD have doubled!

The base value for an ounce of silver in the ALD system doubled from 10 dollars to 20 dollars at the end of last November. Anyone currently holding certificates or rounds denoted “10 dollar base” has effectively doubled their money. Silver rounds are available NOW. The “reminting fee” will be a buck fifty until January 20th, when it will go up to 3 dollars. Certificates, as stated in LIBERTY DOLLAR NEWS will be available in March of next year.

NRA comes callin’

The NRA has called me several times over the last few weeks. It hasn’t really added to the problem of 10 or more calls from telemarketers that I get every day; maybe I just expect better from the defenders of the second amendment than to be harassed at home by their monetary fishing expeditions.

A few years back I responded to a survey that the NRA sent me and ever since then they’ve decided that I’m a great untapped fiscal resource. While I think it’s sweet that they thought of me, I have a little problem with them, and here it is. The NRA wants to protect hunting. Not the right to keep and bear arms, hunting. For the NRA the argument is only about the rights of gun owners to go out and shoot at animals as a sport, not about maintaining an adequate defense of the nation from enemies foreign and domestic. And that is a problem for me.

I’d give to the NRA if they only had the balls that they act like they have. If you want to know what I mean, drop by the GOA (Gun Owners of America) site and take a look at what they have to say on the issue of guns and gun possession, and then go and read the documents that formed the republic that was the US. Once you’ve done this you’ll probably begin to understand that hunting was never an issue for the framers. Oh, hunting was part of the deal, while you were out drilling with the militia you had to eat something; but they didn’t want the average person to have guns so that they could hunt deer on the weekends. The reason is, that an armed and trained population is a force to be reckoned with all on it’s own. The ability to stand up and say no when push comes to shove is something that keeps the power hungry at bay. Or it should.

(And this is the real problem with focusing on the right to bear arms as the key issue right here and now)

The average man not just having, but being trained in the use of weapons is key to the deterrent effect. Outside of a few active militias, that training is sadly lacking. Without the training, guns in the hands of average citizens is a minor deterrent at best, which probably does more to explain the current state of the union than anything else. Without education, without an understanding of how and why things work the way they do, all our potential is wasted. A loaded gun just waiting to be misused. And misused it most likely will be.


This is the first post I wrote on the subject of guns for the blog. While I’ve owned guns for as long as I can remember, I never felt much of a need to write about them. Living in the small towns that have been home for most of my life, I never met anyone who didn’t own a gun. In Texas there are few people, even in the cities, who don’t own firearms.

It was Austin where I met my first gunphobe (as opposed to a gunnut or ammosexual) someone with a pathological fear of firearms. Over the years I’ve met many of them, so I don’t doubt they exist.

But like christians insisting that they are persecuted when they can’t promote their religion everywhere they want to, gunnuts are convinced that they have to be allowed to display their favored fetish everywhere or they are being disarmed. This is the problem that has developed with the NRA in the years after writing this post. This always was a problem with the GOA (which has rightly run afoul of watchdog organizations that track hate groups) it just wasn’t recognizable until after the court decision that allowed citizens to defend themselves with firearms wasn’t enough. After a dozen states and more had passed Stand Your Ground laws that have been shown to be horribly flawed pieces of racist legislation.

Disarming the population isn’t a solution to the violence problem, although it will reduce the number of gun deaths. People will still beat each other to death with bats, stab each other to death with knives. On The Other Hand, giving everyone a gun will actually lead to more gun deaths, this is a statistically unavoidable outcome. It will happen as a simple side effect of there being more weapons in more hands.

No, the firearm problem is best addressed with something like what Jim Wright offers over at Stonekettle Station in his piece Bang, Bang Sanity. Solutions based on the NRA’s own gun safety guidelines.

If we pursued liability for gun miscreants as Jim outlines, mass shootings would rapidly become a rare occurrence again. It is too bad that not even the NRA can recognize their own rules anymore.

Peak Oil

I scared a member off of Liberty List (a Yahoo!Group I once moderated) today by posting the following in response to his query,

What do you think of Peak Oil?


If such a thing did occur (sudden collapse of the economy due to lack of oil) there wouldn’t be much left that is worth living for, much less investing in. Thankfully, there are replacements for natural oil that are making headway in the marketplace. Biodiesel is one example. 

When I first stumbled across the doom and gloom mantra being preached by modern ‘environmentalists’ (I was recycling when recycling wasn’t cool, BTW. I don’t think much of today’s crop) I did some research into the subject of shortages and what has happened through history when they occurred. 

The one that seemed most similar was the period when we shifted from whale oil to crude oil (the IMHO misnomered ‘fossil fuel’) there were similar predictions of doom and gloom, none of which came to pass because the markets simply shifted to crude oil.
I was unable to track down the articles I originally referenced for these facts, they have been covered up by thousands of repetitive articles on ‘Peak Oil’. That fact says more than any number of historical links. It’s the ‘in’ idea of the moment, and that’s all they are talking about. But it isn’t convincing to me.

To quote Steven Levitt:

What most of these doomsday scenarios have gotten wrong is the fundamental idea of economics: people respond to incentives. If the price of a good goes up, people demand less of it, the companies that make it figure out how to make more of it, and everyone tries to figure out how to produce substitutes for it. Add to that the march of technological innovation (like the green revolution, birth control, etc.). The end result: markets figure out how to deal with problems of supply and demand.

Freakonomics: β€œPeak Oil”:Welcome to the Media’s New Version of Shark Attacks

This observation sums it all up for me. I just don’t have time to contemplate end of the world scenarios, I guess. And the guy bailed on the whole group after I posted that. Do you think I was coming on too strong?


Editor’s note, 2019. Query answered. People want to believe that fantasies can occur in the real world.

RAnt(thony)-ings