I spent a large part of the day talking about guns, thinking about police and guns, and handling guns. That’s what this post is about.
Today was a gun day. It began when a friend who strongly supports the Second Amendment nevertheless wondered why police shoot people who end up proving to be unarmed. Why can’t they stop doing that, she asked.
I explained to my friend that police have milliseconds in which to determine whether a person is a threat to them. The fact that the person who was aiming something at them is later shown to have been pointing a pen or cell phone gets discussed a lot in Monday morning quarterbacking. In the real world, though, police can’t stand there debating what the guy (it’s usually a guy) is holding in his hands. All they can do is to act, and act fast. Sometimes they act wrong. Here are a few shoot/don’t shoot videos in practice settings:
When people who wish blacks well tell them to be compliant in the face of police actions, that’s not because they are telling blacks to demean themselves or be slaves to white people’s orders. It’s because the human brain cannot determine in two seconds whether someone is a predator coming at them or just a fool moving around. Lacking that analytical ability, unless a cop is suicidal, his brain is going to say “predator” and he will shoot.
What happened in Atlanta the other day is classic. If you watch the Rayshard Brooks videos, you see that he got into a violent altercation with the police and grabbed for their weapons. He succeeded in grabbing something that later proved to be a taser, then ran away, only to stop and aim the taser at them:
All that the police lizard brains knew, though, was that Brooks was violent, that he had something in his hand (a weapon), and that he was planning on discharging it at them. At that moment, Officer Garrett Rolf’s survival instincts kicked — for him, it was kill or be killed, not black or white. Now, he’s probably going to be charged with murder.
Police all around America are watching this. Each officer knows that s/he may end up in situations with people who are non-compliant or stupid. The officer will then have to make a millisecond judgment call that could save him or her from a killer or see his or her life destroyed in a hostile legal system. If the presumption is always going to be that a black man, if shot, was innocent and the police officer was guilty, police will make two sensible choices: They will quit the department immediately or continue to collect the paycheck while failing to do any meaningful policing. That does not bode well for America. Vigilante justice will step in and vigilantes don’t have police training. They’ll always shoot first.
This does not mean that I am hostile to better police training. First, there’s always room for improvement. Second, training, coupled with making it easier to fire bad policemen, should help weed out people who shouldn’t be on the force. Third, the one thing that the protesters have right is that we need better systems for handling the mentally ill. Police are not, and should not be, mental health therapists.
My friend also asked me why police don’t do what Biden suggested and aim for the legs. That was an easy one. I had a friend in law school who was a former police officer. I asked him the same question (not challenging him but genuinely curious) and he gave me a very simple answer: Police are not sharpshooters and, in moments of stress, it’s almost impossible to aim. For that reason, once you’ve determined that there’s a threat, you must aim for body mass because it’s the only certain way to end the threat.
Moreover, when the threatening people are large, crazy, or hopped up on adrenalin or drugs, there’s a substantial likelihood that they will continue to be a threat even after several shots. Having crossed the Rubicon and fired the first shot, anyone who is facing a threat must keep firing until there’s no doubt that the threat is neutralized.
So, whether you’re black or white, young or old, if police are talking to you, immediately comply with their requests. Keep them informed about what you’re doing. Let them see your hands at all times. And try to be nice. If you do those things, unless it’s a rogue cop in a corrupt police force, there’s a good likelihood you’ll walk away alive no matter what color you are.
The above is the “police and guns” part of this post.
Now for the “more guns” part of this post: I went to a gun store today to look into buying a pistol both for recreational shooting and home security. Once there, I was reminded, as I always home, that gun stores are really nice places. People who work at the stores are happy to help, especially if you’re honest about your ignorance, and the other customers are usually happy people. These stores are the living embodiment of an armed society being a polite society.
The one thing that made me sad was that I may inadvertently have left a black family thinking I’m racist, though, even though what I really am is kind of Aspergery. I was talking with the salesman about the fact that I needed a gun that works for my small hands. With many guns, I find the distance from the grip to the trigger too long for my fingers. That throws off my aim.
One of the men was buying for his wife (who was not with him) and asked if I could handle a gun he was thinking about to see if it would fit my hand. I was happy to help. However, when I turned my back to tell my salesman that I’d be back in a minute, the group shifted and I ended up talking to an entirely different man.
Because the whole group was black, I think that they may have thought to themselves, “Typical white woman. All blacks look the same to her.”
That’s not true.
What’s true is that, until I get to know people, all faces look the same to me. I have a very hard time distinguishing new faces, so I look at externals: Skin color, height, body habitus (skinny, fat, etc.), and hair. All of these guys were black, yes, but what made them indistinguishable to me was that they all had long dreads, they all had burly body types, and they were all tall. The masks didn’t help. I would have done exactly the same thing with a trio of white guys, Hispanic guys, or Asian guys who had similar externalities.
Still, the guys were sweet, so from my point of view it was a no harm, no foul, and I hope it was from theirs too. By the way, this is not white guilt speaking. This is Bookworm guilt. I hate hurting people’s feelings or making them feel uncomfortable.
And what did I buy? Nothing, yet. The range was too crowded for me to test anything, so I’ll go back in a day or two to try again.
Here’s something that did please me, though: It’s been at least three years since I handled a pistol and, before then, I’d done it infrequently, at best. However, once I picked up the guns the salesman was showing me, my muscle memory kicked in. Not only did I know what to do, I remembered to keep my finger away from the trigger. That last made me incredibly happy.
So, police, guns, and more guns. I wrote what I promised.
Jussie Smollett is allegedly an actor. Couldn’t prove it by me. That’s him in the picture. Jussie was allegedly the victim of a very unusual crime recently. It staggers the imagination. Really.
Jussie lives in Chicago, and says he was allegedly the subject of a racial and homophobic attack on his way back from a Subway restaurant. At 2:00 AM.
Okay! There”s at least a hint of plausibility there. The temperature was -21°. Plus whatever wind chill there was.. They call Chicago the “Windy City”. I’ve been there. They’re not lying. Personally I’d have to be pretty doggone hungry to go out for a sandwich at 2AM, when the temperature was -21°, and I had to walk to get there. I’d probably lick the picture on the Cheerios box before I’d go out for a sub in weather like that, but that’s just me!
According to Jussie (think “Once upon a time”), he was on the phone with his agent when the attack occurred. Oddly enough, neither man would submit his phone to the police to be examined. Strange! He said that two men in ski masks, dressed in black, poured bleach on him, shouting “This is MAGA country!” and hung a noose around his neck.
Now, as the liberals say, “If true”… this would be a terrible thing. The police scoured all the available video and did come up with two figures walking. They are said to be “persons of interest”, but not suspects, as the video was captured 15 – 30 minutes before the alleged attack took place and they were moving away from where the attack took place.
“This is MAGA country!” I’ve never heard anyone outside of Twitter say anything like that, but if they did, would they say it in the very bluest city in one of the bluest states in the nation? Consider my credulity strained.
Oh, and the video they have of the victim show him moving out of the range of one camera and a minute later, into view of another, this time with a piece of rope around his neck, like a necktie. This might suggest that the entire “attack” took less than a minute, and afterwards, the victim casually strolled away without so much as a backward glance over his shoulder to see if his attackers might be in pursuit.
First thing, if it did happen, it would have to be premeditated. One doesn’t typically stroll around the streets of a major metropolitan city carrying a bottle of bleach and a rope. And your plan involves standing outside in -21 degree weather, with a humongous wind chill factor on the outside chance you’re going to find a black, gay liberal? At 2AM?? Heck of a plan, Brownie!
I’m told that household bleach freezes at around 18 – 19 degrees Fahrenheit. So, what? I pour bleach into a smaller bottle and keep it under my parka, to keep it liquid, hoping to heck that it doesn’t leak, or splash back on my all black outfit when I douse my eventual target? Good plan! We’ll call your black outfit with random bleach spots “Exhibit A” at your trial!
The reports don’t say what the “victim” was wearing, but unless he’s a complete moron, wouldn’t he have most of his face covered? Ski mask, scarf, hoodie, wool cap…something to keep him warm? How then did these two geniuses identify him as the black, gay cast member of a TV show they may or may not watch?
I won’t say there are holes in this guy’s story. I won”t say there are holes in Swiss cheese. I’ll just let the facts speak for themselves.
A pollster called me today and asked, “What race are you?” I answered, “Human.” He said it was the best answer he’d ever heard. I pass it on to all of you to use as you will. And now those 55 posters and cartoons, with many thanks to Caped Crusader:
Vince Haley emailed VA Right today a statement that he is withdrawing from the race for RPV Chairman. Here is his full statement:
Today, I have decided to withdraw from the race for RPV Chairman.
I entered the race at the 11th hour because I firmly opposed the now-rescinded RPV loyalty pledge. I believe that a Virginia Republican Party that is failing to keep its promises has very little standing to demand such an arbitrary pledge of loyalty, especially from its most ardent supporters.
The loyalty pledge was also deeply troubling because RPV had a better nomination process available in the form of a Republican-run statewide convention to choose a Republican candidate for president. If the desire of Virginia Republicans is to nominate candidates who will best defend the principles of the Republican Creed – which it should be – then conventions are the best way to nominate those types of Republicans.
Republican grassroots – not career politicians – are the ultimate keepers of the principles of the Republicans party.
To the extent Republican grassroots are in charge of our nomination process, we will be a party of principle.
To the extent Republican grassroots are diminished in our nomination process, we will tend toward a party of power over principle.
If anyone doesn’t think it matters how we choose our Republican nominees, then ask how has it come to pass that Virginia Republicans have supported three large state tax increases over the last 12 years accompanied by a doubling of state spending. Ask why it is that some Virginia Republicans are now voting in favor of gender ideology in our laws. Ask why some of our Republicans in Congress failed to follow through on defunding executive amnesty, Obamacare, and Planned Parenthood.
I entered the race to make the case for a Republican party that keeps it promises. The RPV loyalty pledge was a clear example of the machinations that allow elected officials to step on the scales in favor of their “chosen” candidates. It provided yet another example of how things have gone wrong and why so many voters who ardently share the principles of our party have become totally disillusioned with participating in the political process.
Now that the loyalty pledge has been rescinded, and after spending some time evaluating the race, I realize that the biggest rationale for my candidacy has, in a sense, been resolved.
Nevertheless, there is still a critically important conversation to be had about how we can do better as a party to uphold and defend our principles. I am committed to being a constructive voice in that conversation, and I wish John Whitbeck the greatest measure of wisdom and success as he seeks to lead the RPV through a turbulent presidential election year. I firmly believe that it is only through being true, fair, and consistent about our principles, and the way we elect those to defend and advance them, that will we be a party that excites our grassroots, engages new voters, and wins statewide elections.
I heard this on the radio (I listen to John Fredericks almost every AM on my way to work) and I realized: Taxpayers watch out!
Gov. McAuliffe makes pitch to keep the Flying Squirrels in Richmond
Here is the WRIC report and the summary is: Some sort of new stadium deal is in the works AGAIN!
“We need a new ballpark,” he [Governor McAuliffe] said. “We’re Richmond. We cannot lose the Squirrels. How do you lose a ball team? Is that a good message?”
Well, the leaders of the Commonwealth won’t ask me to attend but let me say: I hope we can keep the Squirrels, too. But at what cost to the taxpayers? It sounds like the bike race nonsense all over again. I would rather lose the Squirrels than end up with a bad deal for the next 30 years or so.
If the Squirrels are serious about staying in town and want a new stadium – newsflash: Let THEM finance the stadium! Now there can be some help from others who might use the stadium – concerts, VCU and UR baseball, special events. Maybe even a special tax on the tickets. BUT none of the bike race stuff – do not let the taxpayers finance the stadium (we’ll pay double what it is worth) and make the Squirrels put some skin in the game – or nuts if you prefer – because we could build the stadium and we could still lose the Squirrels.
But no taxpayer-funded stadium in Richmond! That’s my final answer…and it should be yours, too. Tell your local leaders and make it count.
That 2.9 on the Richter Scale mini-earthquake felt in Mechanicsville early this PM was caused by repeated jumping up and down and victory laps when Sandy the Blogger picked up his paper and saw this headline:
Sandy’s Right: Taxpayers Got Screwed by Bike Race!
No the actual headline above the fold was good enough:
Doubt cast on bike race numbers
Outside analysts: Figures look inflated, incomplete, based on flawed technique
Let’s look at the article and see why laps were needed at the Sanders household.
But independent economists who reviewed the economic impact report, which has been used by officials as evidence of the race’s financial success, said the document does little to show how profitable or costly the 10-day event was for the region.
Instead, they said the estimates are unrealistically large and, like most economic impact studies, appear focused on justifying the event rather than measuring its true impact.
Justifying the event! HAH! ITYS! I knew that when I read the article on the economic analysis BUT not being an economist (remember I got a C in economics and I am afraid I remember the brunette co-ed who saved me a seat in the front more than the economic principles in class…but I digress!) I could not directly refute the report. So let’s let the experts do it instead:
“One of the issues I have with all of these reports is they’re oftentimes — maybe even always — political documents as opposed to scientific documents,” said Dennis Coates, editor of the Journal of Sports Economics and a professor at the University of Maryland at Baltimore County.
“They want to convince people that this was a good idea.”
And why is that? Coates said it: It was meant to make political leaders feel good about spending taxpayers’ money for what should have been a privately funded event. There’s more:
“The numbers that they came up with are simply implausibly large,” said [economist Victor] Matheson, who teaches at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. “Every hotel in the Richmond region must have been full with a racing fan for 10 straight days, if these numbers are to be believed.”
But Matheson said the firm would have needed to make a series of improbable assumptions to generate such large spending estimates.
Improbable assumptions? Those happen in government all the time – no wonder the pols didn’t recognize the numbers! Sandy said, somewhat bravely at the time, there were fuzzy numbers in the report. Sandy also said: Nobody came! BOTH right I am afraid…
The fact that the crowd number — 640,000 — came directly from race organizers raises red flags, they added.
“I would just emphasize that this spectator number is astounding to me,” Coates said.
According to Chmura, those surveys were conducted around the finish line and in the VIP tent area.
That could further inflate impact estimates, Matheson said, because die-hard cycling fans who traveled from out of town would seek out those prime viewing spots.
OOPS! There’s even more – because the official estimate was that 72,000 people came and stayed in town. Watch carefully…
“That means every single hotel room in the entire greater Richmond area should have been full with a racing fan if these numbers are to believed,” Matheson said, noting Richmond Region Tourism lists about 18,000 hotel rooms in the area.
Instead, throughout the event, rooms across the region showed up as available on booking websites. And, for all of September, the city saw hotel bookings drop. In the region as a whole, hotel occupancy was at 63 percent for the month.
Mike Watkins, president of the Richmond Region Hospitality Association, said the bike race had a minimal impact on hotel occupancy until the final weekend of the race.
I think I’ll take the real, genuine numbers and stats over the official report…
Sandy said: Taxpayers got screwed, too! Remember the taxpayers money spent was $14 million. (In fairness, some was on infrastructure that may have been needed but was not to be budgeted for until future years – so that is betterment for sure!) The economists seem to cast doubt on the rosy tax revenue that came in:
Coates and Matheson also questioned why the report consists entirely of estimates rather than an accounting of actual spending.
“In advance of the event, you want to predict what is going to happen,” Coates said. “After the event, you want to check the actual predictions. So looking at the actual numbers is how you check the predictions.”
As some of the teenagers I know would say: NO DUH! But the hard numbers say little if any effect:
In addition to the hotel occupancy data that showed declines in Richmond, meals tax receipts in the city were stagnant during September.
Outside of those hospitality indicators, the city saw overall sales tax receipts in Richmond increase 5.32 percent in September — better than the state as a whole, which saw a 4.37 percent increase.
OOPS AGAIN! And the official report admits they do not know:
“We did not use those as inputs for our study because there is no way to differentiate data on hotel booking, retail sales or tax receipts and allocate them into those related to Richmond 2015 and those not related,” Shuai said.
The conclusion of the independent economists is devastating for the “official report” and the pols that bought into it:
Christine Chmura, CEO and chief economist at Chmura Economics & Analytics, defended her firm’s report: “The way we performed the economic impact for Richmond 2015 is the standard way such impacts are performed.”
Coates and Matheson didn’t dispute the point.
“I think they are doing something that is exactly what everyone else in their industry is doing,” Matheson said. “The problem is the entire industry is using a technique that is pretty hopelessly flawed.”
Memo to supervisors in Henrico and Hanover and councilpersons in Richmond when they bring the next big event to you for your taxpayer funded contribution: Remember Sandy’s Third Law: Never Buy the Official Numbers. Ought to assume that they are inflated. Time to say NO! You can be safe in assuming I’ll be at the Hanover supervisors meeting saying exactly that.
Let me make the point before someone accuses me of having no community spirit: I am all for big events in the Richmond area. And yes, factoring into the event ought to be what will it cost for policing, security and other needs like that. BUT the costs of the event ought to have been paid by the private sector not the public one. Raise the money. It would be better to raise enough to pay back (imagine that idea!) for the infrastructure and security etc. And if we had to pay extra for necessary infrastructure, maybe we should have declined the event. Politicians were sold a bill of good but they were willing to be sold. Some skepticism ought to be in order. Especially when you have the severe disruption this race caused the area. I recommend a vinyl button with: HECK NO on it.
Bike race report: $88.9M in direct spending, total impact $170M
This was a clear attempt to answer criticism of the race’s financial impact. And it sounds great at first:
The UCI Road World Championships generated an estimated $88.9 million in direct spending — with a total economic impact of nearly $170 million — and provided an ongoing boost to state and regional tourism, according to a new report released by the race organizers.
But the details prove MY point instead:
Independent economists who reviewed the study cautioned against interpreting the estimates as representative of an overall gain. They noted that the study doesn’t account for all of the economic activity that would have been crowded out by such a large event.
And there’s more; check out the estimates of who came and thus the assumptions are made upon which tax revenue estimates were made:
Chmura found that the event either met or exceeded its initial estimates.
Including direct and indirect spending as a result of the race, Chmura estimated the race had a total impact of $169.8 million on the state and $161.5 million in the region from 2012 to 2015.
Based on that, the firm estimated the state received $4.9 million in cumulative tax revenue and localities around the region received an estimated $3 million.
But the estimates are based on fuzzy numbers:
Chmura’s estimates are based on the crowd estimates generated by Richmond 2015 and a survey of 407 attendees. Richmond 2015 said there were 645,000 spectators over the course of 10 days.
Organizers have been careful to note that their spectator count represents the number of people watching the race each day, meaning that someone who watched three days would be counted three times.
I was as a matter of fact out at least three times downtown so I got counted three times! And I did not rent a hotel nor spent extra money in the area because of the race. Many places were closed for all or part of that week. The REAL numbers show a different story:
That would in part explain why such hospitality indicators as meals tax revenues and hotel occupancy rates in September were either flat or down in the city compared to September 2014, Coates said.
So the organizers go back to their only real claim: Civic pride:
“I think first and foremost, this is a platform to showcase our community, the Richmond region and the commonwealth of Virginia to the world and the nation through TV and Internet,” said Wilson Flohr, Richmond 2015’s CEO.
[Richmond] Mayor Jones agreed.
“We’re not the sleepy town that we once were, and I think the race really was a great visual of that,” he said. “A picture is worth a thousand words — this is a great place to live.”
The Richmond area IS a great place to live. But let’s recall what ACTUALLY HAPPENED: Businesses and government services were disrupted, schools closed, commuters were disrupted, and people left the area to avoid the disruption. Next time someone comes up with a project like this bike race – better get the money from the PRIVATE sector or I say NO.