Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Proof Testing 3-D Printed Firearms

Would you like to be the person to proof test your shiny new 3-D printed gun?

Reputable firearms manufacturers proof test firearms – fire them with a round that is more powerful than usual – to ensure they will operate safely. This is a dangerous procedure. Reputable manufacturers have safety practices in place for it. Most of the 3-D printing processes produce rough parts; they need finishing. Do this wrong with your gun and you will have an explosion when you fire it. (And you may have one anyway, even if you do everything right.)

If you print your own gun you're the tester. It's your hand at risk.

In this bird's view, this whole thing is overblown. It's not hard to make firearms with modern machine tools; hasn't been since the late 19ᵗʰ century. A 3-D printer is just another way of doing that. The hard part is making safe, useful, good-quality firearms through a safe manufacturing process.

On the other hand, the censorship that is imposed on 3-D printed firearms is of concern. Really don't want random officials deciding what designs we can make.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Harm to the Law

(To someone defending the Chicago PD on Twitter, lightly edited.)

When you or I break the law, we do harm, but we do no harm to the law. When the police break the law, they do harm to the law. When prosecutors and judges accept this, and when elected officials do not act, they do harm to the law.

The Party of Treason: Nixon, Reagan, and Trump

On Twitter, someone asked if Nixon was quite that bad. It prompted these reflections.

Richard Nixon was a traitor, responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of US soldiers. His Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, still alive, still lauded, was perhaps equally culpable. Yes, he was that bad.

The Reagan administration also probably committed treason. At least, Reagan broke his oath of office and acted in a disloyal manner. Matters are a little more complex there, since Reagan was apparently demented at the time, so a number of officials (pardoned by his Republican successor, George H W Bush) and Reagan's wife, who was governing in his stead, were responsible. None of them were punished.

I am left thinking that the Republican Party has been disloyal for over 50 years. The foreign policies it advocates fail so desperately and shamefully, and are so unpopular, that they are left undertaking crimes to enable them and to conceal them.

And now we have Trump slamming US intelligence agencies in favor of the dictator of a third-rate power.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Reflections on Historical Leftist Activism and the Present Moment

Reflections on Historical Leftist Activism and the Present Moment

I am not entirely sure I believe any of this analysis – it would be hard to validate, even were I to do extensive research. But I think it is at least a plausible way to understand the history it covers. As with other posts of mine, I expect it to be unpopular – it has something to offend everyone.

– 1 –
I had, for a long time, believed that the 1930s split between the German communists (KPD) and democratic socialists (SPD), which allowed Hitler to come to power, was a result of Soviet machinations. That split seems to me to parallel a current split between factions of the USA’s Democratic Party. There are differences, to be sure. But I want to look at the parallels.

In which Professor Lawrence Tribe speculates on the question of Trump and treason

US citizens who work with a foreign power to “levy war against the United States” are guilty of treason (Article III, US Constitution.) It was the Russian military that levied the cyberattack charged in the grand jury indictment obtained by Mueller today. “War” or not? Hmmm… – tweet
Tribe is the widely-respected Carl M. Loeb University Professor and Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Tweets Heard

Talking productively to Second Amendment advocates.

A response to Dinesh D'Souza and a short history of American fascism in the second half of the 20th century and the early 21st from David Neiwert.

Prof. Kieran Healy: academic snark about economists: “We know it’s not a myth because over the past 30 years historians exhaustively documented its precursors, political scientists traced its structure and diffusion, sociologists analyzed its consequences, and economists published a paper discovering it this week.”

The Violence of the Facists and the Incivility of the Resistance

Stephanie Wilkinson, proprietor of the Red Hen in Lexington Virginia politely asks an unwanted customer to leave. Sarah Sanders uses her visibility and the authority of her office to summon thousands to harass Ms. Wilkinson.

Antifa shows up ready to rumble; the fascists show up with firearms.

Joshua Dukes tries to stop Marc Hokoana from using pepper spray, Elizabeth Hokoana, Marc's wife, shoots Joshua Dukes.

James Fields drives into a crowd of peaceful protesters, killing one and injuring others. The President condemns “violence on many sides.”

Desperate refugees come to the United States and the United States steals their children.

Mild and limited resistance to the fascists bring down a storm of complaints about “civility.” Murder, assault, and child theft bring at most half-hearted objections from the same people.

Civility in answer to raw hatred can be complicity. The offenses from the resistance are not to be compared with the greater violence from Trump, the Republicans, and their supporters.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

A Bad (But Not The Worst) Future

Written in comments over at Crooked Timber:
Even if the Democrats retake the House and Senate in November, even if they impeach Neal Gorsuch for the perjury he committed during the confirmation hearings, even if they punish the people who have stolen refugee children at our border, it will be at least 20 years to recover from the damage Trump and the Republicans have done.

But this is not likely. The rule of law at the Federal level is over for at least a decade to come. We are now governed by the whims of the wealthy and powerful. We are back into aristocratic politics, where knowing the character of the wealthy and powerful will be necessary for almost any significant business or political success.

The next likely moves from Trump are withdrawing from the WTO and NATO. Living in that America will be very much like living in the old Soviet Union; we will work very hard for poor wages and be asked to patriotically bless the most awful products of American industry, while the rest of the world forges ahead.

Meantime, environmental degradation will continue. The seas will rise.
(So how come there is no angry raven emoji?)

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

A Short List of African-American Socialists

These were tweets in response to an African-American objecting that socialism will not end racism. (The text has been preserved; I reworked the punctuation and paragraph divisions for this post.)

Socialists have been opposed to racism for over a century and many prominent African Americans activists have been socialist.

A short list of prominent African-American socialists: Paul Robeson; Richard Wright; Langston Hughes; Ella Baker; Angela Davis; Bell Hooks.


Rather than picking a fight, I left out W. E. B DuBois, Cornel West, and Glen Ford. Arguably, socialists could claim Martin Luther King, Jr. He didn't call himself a socialist, though in private correspondence he wrote about socialism. Instead he talked about anti-poverty activism.

I'm getting testy about this. Many people are trying very hard to erase the entire history of the African-American left. Researching these major figures online was surprisingly difficult, though I am sure that historians who study such matters are aware of their politics.

I am not entirely sure why these peoples' socialism is being written out of history. It seems to be partly a factional dispute among African-American activists. I think also that the American white fear of socialism bears some part of the blame. Black and white: Americans don't want to acknowledge how much the United States owes to socialism and how much the loss of socialist factions in the USA has cost us.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Losing the Trade War

Suppose, for a moment, that Trump gets what he wants: the USA leaves the World Trade Organization and NATO. What would be the effect on the US domestic economy? What seems likely to me is that living in that America would become very much like living in the old Soviet Union; we will work very hard for poor wages and be asked to patriotically bless the most awful products of American industry, while the rest of the world forges ahead.

Meantime, environmental degradation will continue. The seas will continue to rise.