9/16/2005

Moving

I'm moving the blog to BigHeadPress.Com, as part of an over-all revamp of my publisher's website. The URL for that is http://www.bigheadpress.com/TheTimeSink/ .

I'll leave this blog in place for a while longer, until I work out a way to import the posts here into the new place.

9/13/2005

NRA joins the chorus

Also on Monday, the NRA saw which way the gun-rights crowd was running and got out in front.

In their press release, chief lobbyist Chris Cox declared, "The NRA will not stand idly by while guns are confiscated from law-abiding people who’re trying to defend themselves," he said. He added, "We’re exploring every legal option available to protect the rights of lawful people in New Orleans..."

Hmmm. The confiscation policy was announced on Thursday, the television images of people being disarmed came flowing in on Friday, and on Monday we hear that NRA is exploring legal options. Talk about rapid response.

OTOH, NRA does have the resources to make a difference if they choose to apply them, and while I can react more quickly, all I can do is draw cartoons. At least I have to give them credit for coming out on the right side of this issue, however belatedly.

I'm an NRA member, partly because most of the better gun clubs require NRA membership to be in their clubs, partly because NRA does more than anyone else I know to promote shooting sports and responsible gun handling skills among younger people, and partly to give me bitching rights. I'll be watching them to see what "legal options" they come up with.

GOA likes me

Yesterday I received a note from Larry Pratt seeking permission to use my "Boston in 1774, New Orleans in 2005" cartoon on the Gun Owners of America website's "Op-Ed" section. I said, you bet!

It's not on their site when I checked just now, but their last update was early last week, so I guess they don't have instant geek service. Or something. I'll check again in a few days.

The cartoon got mentioned within about 12 hours of my posting it, on LewRockwell.Com's blog site. Poster Anthony Gregory called me "the great Scott Bieser." Gowrsh!

Of course, with all this interest in that cartoon, wouldn't you know that my online art gallery, ScottBieser.com, went down for about 10 hours on Monday. My service provider said it was due to a power outage in a 12-block section of Los Angeles that included the location of their data servers.

You'd think a commercial Web service provider would have backup generators for a server site located in an earthquake zone, but apparently not. At any rate, this confirms my decision to host this blog site on Blogger.Com rather than my own site. Best not to keep all one's eggs in one basket, as it were.

9/11/2005

Doin' something else that needed doin'

Some of you might have heard about the heckler who told The Brain (Dick Cheney) to "go fuck yourself" at a staged CNN photo-op in Gulfport, Miss.

Here's the man's story:

http://opednews.com/articles/opedne_jackson__050909_physician_who_told_o.htm

Doin' what needs doin'

Here's a story that will make your eyes tear up if you have any heart at all:

http://lonestar-mvpa.org/events/2005/05_Katrina.htm

The only down side is the site recommends donations to Red Cross. Red Cross does not have a salutary track record of getting donations to where the donors want them to go. I would recommend finding other relief organizations to give to, if you feel so inclined.

And I will drink a toast to "Sarge," may his joys be many and his troubles few.

9/10/2005

TSHTF


News of the systematic gun confiscations in New Orleans hit me like a 2x4 in the face. I knew this day was coming sooner or later but I had hoped it would be later. But it's here now.

This cartoon will appear in the next Libertarian Enterprise, but I wanted to get it out asap and spread as far and wide as possible. Click here to view a 600-pixel-wide version. Feel free to copy and distribute, or post or link to your own blog.

If you are an editor for a print publication, I can provide an 1800-pixel-square version that's suitable for printing. Just e-mail me and ask for it.

9/08/2005

Another quarter heard from

Almost in answer to my plea for coherency amid the confusion, I find this article from Justin Raimondo at Anti-War.Com. Justin writes with passion but he also does his homework. Great job, man!

It's starting to look like the lesson to draw from this is that there are rogues and fools aplenty (both in government and outside but, it seems, mostly inside), and it's not all that important which particular rogue or fool screwed up the most. The smartest thing to do in a crisis is work directly with the people you know and trust -- your neighbors -- and don't look to government to save your cookies.
Speaking of news from "trusted" sources, I received the following list of what I'm starting to call "stupid FEMA tricks," complete with web links, and those links are all to establishment media sites, except for the one from FEMA's own site!

Just thought I'd pass these along without comment, and let readers draw their own conclusions.

FEMA won't accept Amtrak's help in evacuations
http://news.ft.com/cms/s/84aa35cc-1da8-11da-b40b-00000e..

FEMA turns away experienced firefighters
http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/9/5/105538/7048

FEMA turns back Wal-Mart supply trucks
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/05/national/nationalspec..

FEMA prevents Coast Guard from delivering diesel fuel
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/05/national/nationalspec..

FEMA won't let Red Cross deliver food
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05246/565143.stm

FEMA bars morticians from entering New Orleans
http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=15147862&BRD=...

FEMA blocks 500-boat citizen flotilla from delivering aid
http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/9/3/171718/0826

FEMA fails to utilize Navy ship with 600-bed hospital on board
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0509..

FEMA to Chicago: Send just one truck
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-050902dale..

FEMA turns away generators
http://www.wwltv.com/local/stories/WWLBLOG.ac3fcea.html

FEMA: "First Responders Urged Not To Respond"
http://www.fema.gov/news/newsrelease.fema?id=18470

That last one is real -- not satire but straight from FEMA's website.

Whutdefuckgwineonhere?

In recent days I've been getting an awful lot of instant commentary coming over the transom, concerning who is to blame for the deadly calamity that used to be "The Big Easy." Most of it comes from sources with obvious ideological axes to grind, much of it lays out "facts" that contradict other "facts" reported by members of opposing ideological tribes.

Democrat and "left" sources focus blame on the Bush administration for a woefully inadequate disaster response, and for diverting funding away from Army Corps of Engineers projects that purportedly would have strengthened the levees enough to prevent the breaks which flooded the city.

Republicans blame the Democrat Mayor of New Orleans and Democrat Governor of Louisiana for not ordering evacuations or following pre-prepared emergency plans, such as can be found here. Those plans included mobilizing the city's and school districts' bus fleets to evacuate people without cars.

Libertarians as well as some Democrats focus on the actions of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was brought under control of the Heimatsicherheits Amt in 2003. Apparently it was FEMA that decided to use the Super Dome as a refugee shelter, and then failed to adequately provide for food and sanitation for the people crammed in there.

(Libertarians also noted that when people were being moved in, they were searched for "guns, dugs and alcohol" -- that is, treated like either prisoners or commercial airline passengers -- which force people to wait in line for several hours in the sweltering heat which became a horrendous storm as Katrina approached.)

Details of what FEMA has been doing have been coming in at an accelerating pace. FEMA allegedly cut the local sheriff's communication lines; FEMA has refused access to the afllicted area by the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and other volunteers (although Sean Penn got in somehow). Libertarian sources have said that New Orleans is "one of six 'Federalized' cities that fall under direct U.S.Gov. control during emergencies. This might explain why we saw all those buses nearly submerged under the floodwaters when they should have been ferrying people out of town, but why hasn't the Mayor pointed that out?

We've had reports of widespread looting, and other reports that say the looting has been isolated and most of it is people foraging for necessities. We've had reports of "thugs" roaming the French Quarter armed with iron pipes and knives; and other reports talking about how people holed up in the FQ have armed themselves for self-defense -- so which are the thugs and which are the self-defenders? We've had reports of rape of a child in the Super Dome and other reports claiming that was an untrue rumor.

We've heard denunciations of "listless welfare parasites" waiting around for the government to help them; we've heard reports of homeowners bravely (or stubbornly) refusing to abandon their homes and neighborhoods. Most recent word is the Mayor has announced a "mandatory" evacuation of the city -- this should get interesting.

Some libertarians have talked about government-subsidized levee-building, and government-subsidized flood insurance, and how this encourages reckless building in flood-prone areas. But another libertarian source points out the economic necessity of having a major city at that spot, because of the importance of the Mississippi River to American commerce, both outbound and inbound.

Frankly, I've been feeling rather whip-sawed by this deluge. There have been a few more measured observations such as this one from Jesse Walker at Reason Magazine. And there have been others that generally make sense, but somehow smell vaguely racist, such as this one from Robert Tracinski at The Intellectual Activist (an Objectivist site).

And then, there is this overtly racist screed from ex-cop Fred Reed, who is popular among many conservative-leaning libertarians and libertarian-leaning conservatives.

It's going to take a while to sort this stuff out. Frankly I don't have time to research every claim, and it's all giving me a headache anyway. I'm just going to have to wait for generally trusted sources who get paid for this sort of thing to wade through this deluge of reportage, sort out the truth from the sewage, and assemble it into a coherent report.

9/07/2005

Remember, remember the 30th of September

Sept. 30th is, of course, the scheduled release date for the Serenity movie. For those unaware, this is the big-screen version of Firefly, the short-lived sci-fi television series originally aired on FOX network, and more recently repeated on the Sci-Fi Channel.

The story is set about 500 years in the future after an interplanetary war through which the centralized Alliance Worlds established their dominance over the would-be "Independent" worlds. The central character is Malcolm Reynolds, who had fought on the losing side of that war, along with a an ensemble of very interesting characters who comprise his crew and passengers.

The series, or at least what we've seen of it so far, has very strong libertarian themes, especially concerning personal freedom and self-responsibility, has a lot of cool gun-play, depicts Alliance functionaries as the bullying bureaucrats we know and love from our century, and features something called The Blue Sun Corporation, apparently some sort of state-capitalist/mercantilist cabal, as a both ubiquitous and shadowy villain-behind-the-scenes.

Oh, and it is written and produced by Joss Wheedon, creator/writer of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. So the writing, especially wrt the dialogue and characterization, is first-rate.

In many ways it is the Anti-Star Trek, and it's about time we got something like this.

The Browncoat Cartoonist says, check it out.

9/05/2005

Tom Paine Maru flies again

After what has seemed like an interminable process, my good friend L. Neil Smith's book Tom Paine Maru has been revived, revised, and re-published as an electronic book.

The manuscript for the original story, which was published by Del Rey back in 1984, was stored on 8.5-inch floppy disks in CP/M format. Fellow-traveller and self-made computer geek Bill Stone took the disks and extracted the data into a currently-useable format. Then Neil put some editing polish on the manuscript and handed it over to the inestimable Ken "Moose" Holder, who formatted the material into an e-book using the popular .pdf (Adobe Acrobat) format.

My own contribution was to paint an all-new cover, which everyone thinks is far superior to the artwork that Del Rey used.

Another way in which the e-book is superior to the printed book, is that Neil has restored several sections which had been excised by the Del Rey version, mostly for "icky sex stuff." Consider this the "director's cut."

To order this book, click here.