Thomas Sowell Channels Robert Heinlein

From the fifth and final segment of the Uncommon Knowledge interview comes this snippet:

Thomas Sowell: I think before so many people went to colleges and universities, common sense was probably much more widespread.

Peter Robinson: Why is that? Why is that? Why is that? We keep coming back to higher education as a kind of pollutant in the American political system. That’s been a theme of our conversation. WHY? What’s going on?

Sowell: That’s, that’s a tough one. That’s my next book, which is about intellectuals.

Robinson: Oh really?

Sowell: Yes. Yes. But . . .

Robinson: What have you found, what conclusions have you reached so far?

Sowell: That all the incentives are for people who are intellectuals, in the sense in which I would define the term, to venture beyond what they are competent to do. That is, we know that uh, who’s the man at MIT, the linguist? Noam Chomsky.

Robinson: Noam Chomsky.

Sowell: We know the man is a landmark figure in the study of linguistics,

Robinson: Yes.

Sowell: But we would never have heard of him if he stuck to linguistics.

Robinson: True enough.

Sowell: We know that our wonderful colleague Mr. Ehrlich . . .

Robinson: Paul Ehrlich here at Stanford.

Sowell: . . . has a reputation in entymology, but we would never have heard of him if he had stuck to entymology. And so all the incentives are to go beyond what you are competent to deal with, and to just assume that because you are wonderful at this, that this makes you sort of a general philosopher-king.

Robert Anson Heinlein dubbed this “The Expert Syndrome,” stated thusly:

Expertise in one field does not carry over into other fields. But experts often think so.

The narrower their field of knowledge the more likely they are to think so.

Quote of the Day – Monster

Quote of the Day – Monster

“You ever heard of Richard Matheson? He wrote some pretty good science fiction back in the day, lots of Twilight Zone Episodes and a whole host of short stories back in the 50’s and 60’s. He’s most remembered for one short story thats been made into a movie about a half a dozen times. It’s called “I AM LEGEND”. Its the story of the last man on earth after a plague wipes out most of the population. What parts of the population the plague doesn’t wipe out, becomes transformed into what can best be described as ‘vampires’. Most people know that narrative of the story, but most every filmed version and most retelling of the story forget is the main point of the story. The point is this; When you live on a planet where humans are normal and vampires are the monsters, thats something we understand. What Matheson’s story forces the reader to come to grips with is the opposite, that when you live on a world where the vampires are the normal, then you, as the last remaining human, have become the monster.

“This is what we conservatives and libertarians have become. With the plague of ‘fairness’ now loose in the ecosystem of public ideas and discourse, we have become the monster. They are working to destroy our nest (the markets) and after that is destroyed, they will come for us.”Varifrank, Monster.


I’ve been holding this one for Halloween.

Even More

From the same portion of the Uncommon Knowledge interview of Thomas Sowell:

Peter Robinson: Back to Barack Obama. You mentioned the, uh . . . I think you would call it a naive view of world affairs. That he places a great deal of faith in rhetoric, the ability of rhetoric to solve global problems. This reminds you of the 1930’s, it reminds you of Neville Chamberlain. I read you a quotation, the notion of “spreading the wealth around” and again you said that’s perfectly pure Socialist doctrine from the 1930’s. Is it . . . Would you argue that this man is the most leftwing, or the uh, purest embrace of the Unconstrained Vision that we’ve seen in American politics since . . . since when? Since the New Deal?

Thomas Sowell: Since there’s been an American politics.

Robinson: Really?

Sowell: Yes. Yes, I mean, even FDR you know pulled back on some things. But Obama really, he does have the Unconstrained Vision which is really an elitist vision that says “I know what is the best to be done, and I will do it.” When he says “I will change the world” you realize this is a man who’s actually accomplished nothing other than advancing his career through rhetoric. And it reminds me of a sophomore in college, you know, who thinks that he can run the world, because he’s never had to run anything. And you can believe that only until you have personal responsibility for consequences, and that’s when it gives you a little bit of humility.

Robinson: Why don’t the American people see through that? Isn’t that the fundamental bet that the Founders made, that the, that voters would see through, ultimately they’d see through nonsense?

Sowell: Yes, but that was before nonsense became a large part of the curriculum of our educational institutions.

Again, absolutely. Absolutely.

Now, read this.

Too Good a Quote to Leave Until Tomorrow

Too Good a Quote to Leave Until Tomorrow

Aside from the fact that I have a QotD for tomorrow that I’ve been sitting on for a while.

Thomas Sowell from his Uncommon Knowledge interview with Peter Robinson, Part 4 of 5

When people ask me why am I going to vote for McCain rather than Obama it’s because I prefer disaster to catastrophe.

To further quote Mr. Sowell: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.

Well, Thank You!

Ambulance Driver has awarded me this:

In the spirit of the thing, here’s the source of the award and the rules:

* Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.

* Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.

* Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.

* Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we’ll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!

* Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

So I’ve done Item 2, Item 3, and Item 5. I will fulfill item four shortly, but here’s Item 1 (after I perused the list of previous recipients among which were several I’d have chosen for my own.

In no particular order:

Crystal of Boobs, Injuries, and Dr. Pepper.

Mark Alger and Dolly of Baby Troll Blog

Rachel Lucas

LawDog of The LawDog Files

And last, but definitely not least, Tam of View from the Porch

If I didn’t pick you, please understand – I could only choose five. You have looked at my blogroll, right? How do you pick only five out of all of those?

Anyway, thanks AD! I appreciate the nod.

I Will Not License, I Will Not Register. Period.

This is what licensing and registration are for:

Gun purchase glitch raises questions

Del.’s small-arms advocates shocked over DSP recordkeeping

Delaware State Police stopped Alvina Vansickle from purchasing a .22-caliber pistol for self-defense because she was too old and a woman, said Superintendent Col. Thomas MacLeish.

The outrage that followed led to the revelation that Delaware State Police had been keeping lists of gun buyers for years; state law requires them to destroy these records after 60 days.

Without so much as a traffic ticket, the 81-year-old Lewes resident should have sailed through the mandatory state police background check when she tried to buy a Taurus revolver from Charlie Steele’s Lewes gun shop last August.

Problems started after Steele made the required phone call to state police for approval of the firearms transaction.

An employee in the state police Firearms Transaction Approval Program noticed Vansickle’s age and gender, and brought the sale to an immediate halt.

Vansickle’s application was then routed to Sgt. Benjamin Nefosky, who heads the firearms approval unit.

According to MacLeish, the transaction was halted over concerns “based upon age and gender.”

“To be very honest with you, we have a legal obligation under the law to do approvals,” MacLeish said. “We also have an obligation to make sure we’re safe, and paying due diligence.”

MacLeish said the initial call taker “was concerned this individual never purchased a weapon before. Age and gender caused her to take caution.”

As to whether age and gender are included in the state statute as legitimate reasons to reject a firearms purchase, MacLeish stated, “No, they are not.”

“I believe there was caution taken on behalf of the call taker,” he said. “It was done without malice.”

Vansickle’s purchase was eventually approved — 10 days after the initial application — after she and the dealer were interviewed by police about the purchase. A normal delay is three days.

The sale eventually went through.
Government tracking feared

Word of the delay rebounded around Delaware’s small-firearms community, eventually making its way to Dave Lawson, a retired state police lieutenant and firearms instructor. Lawson spoke to his former colleague Nefosky about Vansickle’s dilemma, Lawson said.

Lawson said what Nefosky told him revealed there was a much larger problem in the firearms approval unit than keeping a small-caliber revolver out of the hands of an 81-year-old woman.

Lawson said Nefosky told him he searched seven years of firearms transaction records to see if Vansickle had ever bought a gun before.

Some gun owners fear any government agency that tracks gun purchases or keeps lists of who has them. They worry these lists could someday aid in weapons confiscation, fall into the wrong hands and serve as a road map for burglars and thieves, or result in increased scrutiny by law enforcement.

“I was totally drop-jawed,” Lawson said. “I asked him how far back the records went. He didn’t know. He didn’t care. He felt she was possibly a threat because of her age, a threat to herself or her family. That’s what the implication was. He was concerned that never having bought a gun before, why would she want one now, at 81?”

Lawson served in the State Bureau of Identification as a lieutenant, which includes the firearms approval section and other specialty units. He knew the law. Nefosky’s concern about Vansickle’s age and sex, he said, should never have come into play.

Lawson also knew the gun records should have been destroyed.

MacLeish would not allow Nefosky to be interviewed.

In an interview with The News Journal, MacLeish claimed all paper firearms records are destroyed every 60 days.

The electronic records, however, are another story.

“Our review of our electronic records indicated we had a glitch in the system, back to August 2005,” he said. “They have since been purged.”

The electronic records never posed a threat, MacLeish said.

“The info was in an electronic file that no one did anything with,” MacLeish said. “We’ve since purged that file in its entirety.

Enter the National Rifle Association.
Civil rights of gun buyer at risk

John Thompson is president of the Delaware State Sportsmen’s Association, the local affiliate of the NRA.

Several people told him of Nefosky’s delay, and expressed their outrage about the list of gun owners maintained by the Delaware State Police.

Thompson, an attorney, had worked with state lawmakers in the early 1990s to craft the state’s background-check law.

Legally, he said, Vansickle’s reasons for wanting a firearm are moot, and he knew the lists were a problem.

“This suggests two violations: one is denial without cause, and the other is keeping records of gun purchases,” Thompson said. “Under statute, the Delaware State Police are required to destroy any purchase records that involve approvals. Now they’re maintaining lists of gun owners, which we think is inappropriate. We did not create this system to allow this to happen.”

Vansickle’s civil rights were violated, he said.

“There is nothing in the Second Amendment or the Delaware Constitution that says the right to own firearms is limited to people of a certain age,” Thompson said. “We don’t have any problem with age restrictions regarding children, but we don’t think someone ought to arbitrarily decide people are too old to own guns.”

Retired Dover police captain John Sigler is president of the National Rifle Association, a position once held by legendary actor Charlton Heston.

“I was literally shocked that such an event would occur in the state of Delaware,” he said. “I am very, very troubled that an individual — based on her age — was denied the ability to defend herself.”

Both Sigler and Thompson pointed to the recent Supreme Court decision District of Columbia v. Heller, in which the court found that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess firearms for personal use, such as self-defense.

While Sigler expressed “the highest respect” for the Delaware State Police and MacLeish, he found it intolerable that the agency “has been keeping records they’re not supposed to have, for at least seven years.”

“That means that for seven years that office has been violating Delaware state law and thumbing their nose at the state Legislature,” he said. “I certainly hope it’s not true, but it appears that it is.”

Sigler brought the goings-on in his home state to the attention of Bob Dowlut, NRA general counsel.

In a letter to MacLeish sent Aug. 28, Dowlut and the NRA requested two separate investigations: one to focus on Nefosky’s denial, “and all other transactions of similar scope and nature.” According to the letter, the second investigation should focus on who’s responsible for keeping lists of gun owners in the state.

“NRA respectfully requests to be notified about all actions taken to correct this situation,” Dowlut wrote. “At this time, there are a number of people urging the filing of a lawsuit to remedy this matter, however, taking of corrective steps immediately would be preferable to litigation for all concerned.”

MacLeish said two internal investigations “have been initiated by myself, by the division.”

Dowlut copied his letter to Gov. Ruth Ann Minner, who declined to comment for this story.
Elderly woman’s husband speaks out

Vansickle’s husband, who has legally purchased several weapons over the past several years, spoke on her behalf about the delay.

“Apparently, they thought she might shoot herself with it,” said J.R. Vansickle, 83. “She has a clean record. There was no reason to turn her down. I lost both legs through diabetes. I’m in a wheelchair. We’re an elderly couple. She wanted the gun for self-defense in our home.”

The state police firearms unit was established as a result of the Brady Law, which took effect in 1994.

Nefosky supervises four criminal-history employees, who take calls from gun dealers around the state, and approve or deny the purchases based on the buyer’s criminal history.

According to state police, during 2006 and 2007, the unit processed 21,304 transactions, which have resulted in 711 denials.

Dowlet told the newspaper that for police departments, the types of problems the Vansickle case exposed are extremely rare.

“Most police departments, when they put someone in charge of a unit like that, they need to be completely familiar with the law,” he said. “There’s an anomaly here, someone in the Delaware State police who wasn’t following the law. Most police departments — especially in our litigious society — if that’s what the statute says, that’s how they enforce it.”

“Glitch” my aching sphincter. That was a deliberate decision made by a nanny-state employee – a “civil servant.” And as Heinlein once observed, “Civil Servant” is semantically equal to “Civil Master.” This is a perfect example of that fact.

Firehand has said about everything that I wanted to concerning the incident (as it’s been making the rounds of the gunblogs for a couple of days now) except this: Yes, I know that I have “licensed” myself by getting a CCW. Yes, I know that filling out a 4473 when I buy a firearm “registers” me and records the gun. But given the current state of things, it is not possible for the State to know exactly what or how many guns I own – just that I probably own several.

However, if an official licensing and registration scheme is implemented, I will not comply. As noted by Charles T. Morgan, at the time Director of the Washington office of the ACLU said in Senate testimony in 1975 when asked about gun registration:

What the administration’s and Congressman McClory’s bills . . . call for is a whole new set of Federal records. . . .

I have not one doubt, even if I am in agreement with the National Rifle Association, that that kind of a record-keeping procedure is the first step to eventual confiscation under one administration or another.

I am in complete agreement. That is, realistically, the only purpose of a registry. Now the gun owners of Delaware, some of them anyway, are aware that a defacto registry exists. Will any heads roll over this?

‘Tain’t likely, McGee.

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day

I have never in my life been so ready for an election season to be over and done with. I can hardly wait for the Messiah to be sworn in so unicorns will start farting rainbows on the front lawn of my gold house and I can run them over with my rocket car on the way to my governmentally-guaranteed middle class job. – Who else? Tam, of course!