Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Logical and Epistemological Derivation and Progression of Rights

Here's a post I started writing about... two years ago I think? Maybe three? In response to a question about what rights were, and how we know they are rights etc... but I never finished it. The same question came up today, so I figured I'd finish the post. 
... It's still not QUITE finished... I need to do a bit more of an edit... but it's MOSTLY finished. 
By the by... if you think something is circular, or a tautology, you're reading it wrong. There are no tautologies here, there are only derivations from first principle, with reference to falsifiability, and non-contradiction; presented as logical and consequential proofs.
Meaning that all derivations FROM first principles in the progression can be derived back TO first principles, without contradiction or falsification... and that many but not all of them have, in order to illustrate this. 
As sentient beings, of sound mind, able to make our own choices and direct our own efforts; and to accept the requirements, obligations and consequences thereof; we have fundamental and inherent rights, which pre-exist and presuppose any society, state, collective, or other entity.

Rights exist because of self ownership, not because of society, or the state, or collective agreement or consent.We own ourselves, in the entire... rights, benefits, obligations and consequences.

We are not the property of others, or of society; and society (or the state, or any other collective or individual) is not the grantor of rights... though if legitimate, society, or the state, should be a guarantor of rights.

This is generally colloquially referred to as the propertarian principle of individual rights, or the principal of self ownership.

To my knowledge, it is the only logical derivation and progression of individual rights, as and from fundamental first principle, which does not require outside appeal to authority (i.e. faith, God, society, the state, the monarch etc... though conveniently, it also does not contradict most concepts of faith in God either)... though there may be others I am not familiar with.

This is a nearly universally recognized (if not necessarily universally accepted) principle, by those who actually study such principles (philosophy and philosophers), and the nature of principles, knowledge, and truth (epistemology... a field of philosophy which asks "how does one know anything at all, and within such knowledge, how does one know what is true and what is not).

It is generally accepted as the foundational first principle of the enlightenment... and critically it IS, clearly and explicity, the fundamental principle of the constitution of the United States... and of the nation defined by it.

Rights are not granted or provided by the constitution, or the state, or society... our rights are fundamental, inherent, and pre-existing... they are recognized, and protected by the constitution, by the state organized and formed by it, and... hopefully... by the society living with that state.

First, to get it out of the way right up front... lets talk about God for a minute:


  1. Some believe there is no such thing as property, nor can there be... only stewardship
  2. Some believe that we are Gods property

There can be conceptions of rights without property, including without self ownership, or even without individuals, as we think of them... but they are entirely different from conceptions of rights where there can be and is property... Generally granted by "tradition", or "honor" or "god" or "gods" etc... They are not derivable from any logical first principle, but instead require appeal to authority (even if that authority is "honor" or "tradition").

In most Christian and Jewish theological concepts which include people being God's property, this is morally and ethically indistinguishable from self ownership in the context of the propertarian principle; except internally, to your own moral judgement and conscience, of your stewardship of Gods property (as delegated to you, the individual...though certain Christians theorize and promulgate more explicitly collective stewardship as well).

In Islam, you are owned by God, and are in total submission to God... That is the literal meaning of Islam. You are owned by, and submit to the will of, God, in all things, at all times. Anything you or anyone else has, is Gods property, you only have temporary posession, use, and stewardship of it... including yourself. You have no rights, nor does anyone else... only privileges granted by God, as God wills it.

This piece is not about the epistemology of faith however, it is about the epistemology of rights.

So next, lets get the other common concepts of "rights"... which by the individual conception of rights are not truly rights at all... out of the way.

Some believe that there are superior beings, who have rights inherently (or granted by God, or society, or position etc..); and inferior beings, who do not, or whose rights are inferior to others (unless granted superior rights by those who posess them), and who can be the property of another, or can be subject to another. This is the fundamental principle of nobility or monarchy, and of certain types of oligarchy, and other explicitly hierarchical societies.

Some believe that people... or at least our bodies, and the fruits and products of them, and their efforts (wealth, profit, property etc...) are the property of "society" or some other collective entity or construct. If you believe that individuals are societies property... then you don't believe in rights at all... though you may call them rights, they are not: They are grants of privilege, immunity, entitlement, license, or franchise. They can be given, taken, and modified, as society decides. This is the fundamental principal of most collectivist societies.

It is also the fundamental presumption most people seem to have, in most societies around the world today... including, sadly, most people in America. They THINK they believe in rights, and in individuals... but they believe that rights are grants of society, or the state, or the constitution; and can be granted, modified, or revoked, as the needs or preferences of society require them to be.

They THINK they believe they are individuals, and own themselves... but they believe that society decides on rights... and if society decides, then you don't actually own yourself, society owns you.

What about right and wrong?

In either of these alternate conceptions; as the superior individuals, or society as a whole, are the arbiter of rights, then there can be no standard of right or wrong, except as determined by those superior individuals, or by common consent; and when society changes its mind, then what right, and what is wrong, also change.

There are no right and wrong... only allowed or not... Which, sadly, is what all too many believe.

If there ARE individual rights, beginning with property rights, then at least some things are inherently and objectively wrong... with or without society, even if society says they otherwise... Specifically those things which violate the rights of others, by force or fraud.

Oh and, if one knowingly does this wrong, by choice, then one willingly consents to their rights being abrogated as a consequence... We respect each others rights, so that others respect ours, and if they violate ours, we don't have to respect theirs... though we still should, and we shouldn't disregard their rights to any degree greater than required to compensate us for the violation of our rights, or to prevent further violation or abrogation of others rights.

THAT is the ACTUAL social contract by the way...

...Not some BS about society and altruism etc... etc... etc...

A contract, is valid consideration, offered for valid consideration in return; voluntarily accepted, with valid exchange and acceptance of said consideration, according to specified terms.

This equal offer of consideration of rights, fulfills all requirements of a contract; both as individuals, and collectively... as all so called "collective rights" are not... they either do not exist, or they are rights delegated to the collective by others.

... Remember... I said this was a full logical derivation and progression... 
Might makes right?

Three other important things to get out of the way...

1. Just because someone, or some society, or some state doesn't know about or recognize or accept such rights, doesn't mean they don't exist

2. Just because someone, or some society, or some state, is violating or abrogating such rights, does not mean they do not exist.

3. Just because someone, or some society, or some state, has the power, or has granted themselves the authority, to violate or abrogate such rights, does not mean they do not exist.

To "think" otherwise, is to make the same logical error, as thinking that because people violate the law, there is no law; the same logical error as thinking that because people do wrong, that there is no right or wrong.

This is the difference between licit, and legitimate authority and force. Licit, is that which is allowed by "authority"... be it society, the state, the monarch etc... Legitimate is that which respects both law, and rights... and the law itself must be licit and legitimate to be right.

Rights cannot be disposessed of, only respected, violated, or abrogated; whether by force, fraud, or willing consent.

... Willing limitation of rights, competition of rights, and intersection of rights in such contexts are MUCH more complicated questions...

Proof?

As I said above... The propertarian principal of individual rights, provides for a logical derivation and progression of rights, from first principle, without external appeal to authority.

So... here is the logical and epistemological progression and proof of individual rights; from, in reference to, and in the context of; the propertarian principle of individual rights, or the principle of self ownership.

First, our assumptions, and statement of principle...

Sentient individuals exist.

Property exists.

Rights exist.

Property may be held privately, by sentient individuals.

Sentient individuals may not legitimately be property of other individuals or entitites.

If we are sentient individuals, not owned by society, or any other superior individual or entity, then we must own ourselves.

Now, we derive our progression of rights...

If we own ourselves, then there must be rights, inherent to our nature as sentient individuals... These rights begin with, and proceed from, the right of self ownership; because without rights, there is no ownership... only possession.

If there is an inherent right of self ownership, and we are sentient beings, then we must have the right to freedom of conscience.

If we own ourselves, and have freedom of conscience, then we cannot be dispossessed of our rights even by willing consent; as self ownership and freedom of conscience cannot be dispossessed of without negating sentience and individuality.

If we own ourselves, have freedom of conscience and cannot be disposessed of our rights, then our rights can only be abrogated or violated by force, fraud, or willing consent.

If we own ourselves, have freedom of conscience, cannot be disposessed of our rights, and our rights can only be abrogated or violated by force, fraud, or willing consent; then all sentient individuals have the same rights, and no individual can have any rights that are superior or inferior to the rights of any other individual.

If all sentient individuals have the same rights, which cannot be superior or inferior to any other, then no sentient individual can be superior or inferior to another.

If no sentient individual can be superior or inferior to any other, then no individual can own any other or be owned by any other.

If we own ourselves, have freedom of conscience, and cannot be dispossessed of our rights, then we must have the right of private property, which consists of the rights of posession, determination, use, exclusion, disposal, and benefit of such property (including our selves in the entire).

If we own ourselves, have freedom of conscience, and have the right of private property, then we must have the right of defense of self.

If we own ourselves, have freedom of conscience, and have the right of private property, then we must have the right of self determination.

If we own ourselves, have freedom of conscience, have the right to private property, and the right to self determination, then we must have the right of association.

If we own ourselves, have freedom of conscience, have the right to private property, the right to self determination, and the right to free association, then we must have the right to form contract.

If we own ourselves, have freedom of conscience, have the right to private property, and the right to self determination, the right of association, and the right to form contract; we must also have the right to form voluntary collectives of individuals and to delegate certain rights and powers to them.

If we can form a voluntary collective of individuals, all individuals have the same rights which cannot be disposessed, no individuals can be superior or inferior to any other, and no individual can own or be owned by any other...

 ....then no collective of individuals can be a separate entity unto itself with rights separate from the rights of the individuals making up the collective, nor can any collective of individuals be superior or inferior to any individual, nor possess or exercise rights not posessed by all individuals, or which are superior to those of any individual.

... Thus, we are able to have societies, and states, which respect and protect individual rights, and which do not violate or abrogate them; without requiring collective rights, or collective ownership.

That's the epistemological progression from the propertarian principle, through to the existence of societies and states, with the exclusion of collective rights, and collective ownership... It is a complete chain of reasoning, derivable from and to first principles... progression and regression.

All things which are ACTUALLY rights, as opposed to grants, franchises, etc... can and must be logically and epistemologically justified within this progression, or from this progression. All things which cannot be logically and epistemologically justified within or from this progression... as dervied from and in the context of the propertarian principle... are not, and can not be, rights. They are something else, that are not rights.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Fail Fast, Fail Frequently, Fail Forward

Being "detail oriented" is generally considered a good thing. It can be a great asset... even a critical requirement... for people like engineers, writers and editors, reporters, accountants, MBAs and analysts, and academics.

As such, being "detail oriented" is often mistaken by those groups of people (and those who rely on them, or think of them a benchmarks to judge themselves, and others) as a hallmark of ...or even a requirement for.... intelligence, competence, and success.

Conversely, not being "detail oriented", can appear as, or be taken (improperly) as; a sign of disorganization, a short attention span, even stupidity and incompetence.

...but...

Being "detail oriented", is not always the right thing, or the necessary thing. Sometimes, it even gets in the way or is actively harmful.

Jimmy Carter was incredibly detail oriented, as were both Bill Clinton, and Woodrow Wilson...

... didn't work out so well for those three as president...

Mostly, It just made them micromanaging, and indecisive... Delaying decisions or actions until they had "enough data"; "delegating" to subordinates,  without giving them actual authority for decision making; and making decisions, only to modify or even reverse them, when "new information" arrived... whether that information merited such action or not, and disregarding the negative consequences of doing so.

...You know.... the usual result, when a "detail oriented" person has far too much information; far too little ability to judge the relevance, importance, or quality of information they have, and properly filter and route it; far too little expertise or experience in a particular subject or issue (or sometimes far too much, in which case they may start to second guess and over think things,nor to prematurely optimize); and not enough time or resources to sufficiently remedy any of these problems.

When a "detail oriented" person finds themselves caught in such a situation (unless they are one of those who can naturally step back, and see systemic complexities, and interactions, in the "big picture", and then properly generalize, and relate them to other data, other systems, other problems etc... ) they will naturally tend to fixate on the details they DO understand... regardless of the acttual importance of those items, or the quality of the data..... and establish confirmation bias based simplifications and logic chains, that affirm their own illusions of control over the issue... but actually, most likely  just make things worse.

It's hubris... and it is a near universal problem... even for those of us who have been specifically trained to recognize and avoid it... because the real world is far too complex, with far too many dependent variables, and far too few independent variables, with far too few ways to properly simplify arend sennd ND abstract data arend senndndbnd problem sets; even just to ACTUALLY understand, never mind successfully control very much, very well.

... Unfortunately our brains are VERY good at creating a convincing illusion of control...

...Until we crash, hard, into reality... And hopefully don't break anything.... or anyone... too badly.

...And of course, when it's a president who is having this problem, the consequences can be a lot more serious than when it's just some guy...

When you don't have the time to actually become an expert or authority on the 300 plus absolutely critical subjects you have to make decisions about every single day... you don't need to be more detail oriented... What you need, is to be able to very quickly understand the important principles, the overall context, what the most important and relevant details are, and what the variables, options, and consequences of various specifics of your decision may be.

Under those circumstances, being "detail oriented" actually serves to distract you, and gives you the illusion of greater understanding, expertise and control, than you actually have.

... which leads to even greater tendency towards not only initial error... but then a worsening death spiral of error and hubris.

You don't need to get all the details right... because you can't... it's not actually possible.

You need to be able to decide and act fast... but in the right way...

You have to observe, orient, and simplify to decision points; make decisions and set direction; effectively drive action and execution; then analyze the results of actions taken, and iteratively improve.

...and that's not a common ability, nor is it easy...

A very large portion of my profession, involves taking a huge amount of very detailed, very hard to understand, very technical information; documenting all of it thoroughly, along with context and history,  best practices, requirements, regulations, limitations and constraints... plus references etc...

Distilling all of those hundreds, or sometimes thousands of pages, down into both a detailed report with EVERYTHING... and far more importantly, a short summary; including the background and context, the important principles and issues, the most critical details, the risks and consequences, the costs and benefits etc...writing out specific requirements and recommendations, and prioritizing them, with an outline of actions that may be taken on such recommmendations.

It may have taken me and my team anywhere from a week, to as much as six months, to gather all the background and requirements, run all the testing, gather all the data, perform all the analysis etc...; with another five to ten days, full time, of writing it all up, into both the full report and the summary... maybe even twenty or more additional days, including outlines, drafts, revisions and the like... A full working month...

Then, I have to present that to the people who are financially and legally responsible for the operations of the organization... and they need to immediately, or at least very quickly, decide what to do about particular requirements, particular problems, particular options etc... Often in the room, right then. And they need to give a legal signoff, often with multiple literal signatures and copies, sent to auditors, regulators, courts etc...

Frequently, I have as little as 15 minutes TOTAL to make my presentation and explanations, answer any questions, and get approvals etc...

...Meaning the execs only have a few minutes to understand, and make their decisions as well...

If they get it wrong, or execute on it badly, they can personally be fined thousands  or even millions of dollars, or possibly even go to jail; in addition to the consequences to the organization, which may include huge losses of information, of direct revenue, and most importantly loss of confidence and reputation.

Good leaders, may go back and re-read the whole report later... certainly they will have at least two subordinates they trust, and who will come at it from at least two different directions and perspectives, dissect it in detail and review it with them...  but they don't have time right now.... Right now, they need to orient, decide, and act

To do THAT,  they will rely on the input from their trusted subordinates... and from me, the expert...

...They don't read the full report right now...they read the summary, and the charts, and the important notes etc... and they also read ME, as I'm presenting... and they read their own people, and their reactions or how something sits with them.

Theynobswrve the data, and they observe and analyze my word choice, tone, posture, and demeanor... and those of their peoples... and how they convey meaning. How certain I am of what I'm saying, and how competent and how knowledgeable am I, based on how comfortable and relaxed I am with my own work, and with the subject matter as a whole... even if the report may be unpleasant or distressing. How I weight the variables and options. My level of comfort and certainty... or discomfort and uncertainty... with my data, my analysis, my recommendations... everything...

...then based on this observation and analysis, they orient themselves to the problem properly,  make a decision right then, so they can make all the necessary supporting decisions, and take whatever immediate actions may be required....

...So that we can start moving and acting, as quickly as possible...and so that we can FAIL as quickly as possibly, as small as possible, and therefore we can iterate again... improving and correcting, as we go.

Because they don't expect to get every decision exactly right, the first time, every time... Or EVER for that matter... because it's almost impossible to do so...

... Becausenthey understand.. it's a lot easier to get it right by orienting on what you think are the right problems, and what you think is the right direction; acting on your analysis, until you get stuck into it, and find things you need to change; then iterating, and iterating, until you get it right.

Plan, do, check, act... repeated..... until you get it done, and get it right.

Fail fast, fail frequently, fail forward.

You might have noted, there is another president right now... who is essentially the polar opposite of Jimmy Carter... and  who is being portrayed as being stupid, incompetent, having a short attention span, and being rash... too quick to judge, moving too fast, without waiting for better data or understanding all the details...

Yeah... pretty obvious ain't it?

Now... I don't think Trump is some kind of genius... In fact, I detest the man on a personal level, and at best I'm unimpressed with him as a businesssman... a don't think he has any business being president, and I very much doubt that he will have a good and successful presidency... though I hope I am wrong, and he's very successful, and does very well for the country...

...But... I can say, that I recognize very clearly, the pattern of someone who is used to doing just what I described here... Orienting, deciding, and acting quickly, then failing quickly, deciding and acting again, and iteratively improving... or at least trying to.

He doesn't deliberate, or delegate, once he's already involved directly, or has to make a decision.... He delegates everything possible right up until he HAS to make that decision, and then gets involved directly; makes the decision, without second guessing, and acts on it, until it fails or requires revision. Then he makes another decision, acts on it, and If it fails, it fails... and they fix it again, and again, until you fix all the problems you can find... and hopefully, you're  successful.

Because every success, large or small, is made up of many small failures.

You decide and act as fast as possible, so you can fail as fast as possible... and  you want to know as quickly as possibly so you can fix or replace as quickly as possible.

Trump is TRYING to do this in office... and it's sometimes working, but mostly not... for various reasons, none of them good...

But... if you're paying any real attention at all, it should be clear at this point.... the narratives being drawn around the Trump administration?

Well... the media doesn't seem to actually get anything else right... why would they get this one right?

Especially since it would be against their own goals, and their own interests, to do so....

Monday, January 30, 2017

A long overdue review... Dennis Badurinas Dragon Leatherworks Custom Holsters... Damn fine holsters, damn fine man.

Back in 2011, I was still a reasonably popular blogger... and still a gunblogger in particular, with a couple thousand unique readers every day. I was still posting almost every day... still doing megaposts... and at the time, I thought the cancer hadn't slowed me down too much yet.

I was very much wrong about that last part... but it took me a while to figure that out.
Also back in 2011, Dennis Badurina was just getting Dragon Leatherworks going, and starting to make a... very well deserved... name for himself... and as it happens, he was sending out review samples to a few gunbloggers.

One day, I emailed Dennis, jokingly saying "Hey, where's my review holster?"... and being the good guy he is, Dennis wrote back and said "I didn't know you wanted one... Just tell me what you want, and I'll send it to you right away"... which kinda blew me away.

I wrote back saying I was just kidding... but he wasn't... he insisted on sending me a holster to review, so long as I wanted to review it. At that point, he was busy enough that his delivery times were out about three months, but he said he would have me the holster in less than six weeks, so I would have plenty of time to review it before bad weather in North Idaho made it difficult.

Well... I couldn't turn that down... I had seen the pictures and videos the other gunbloggers had posted, and read their reviews, and I was thrilled to get a piece of Dennis's work.

I took a good look at this website, told him what I liked, what I specifically didn't like, and the pistols I had on hand at the time... and I asked him to send me what HE thought would be a great holster based on those parameters.

Five weeks later... I'm sorry to admit, I skipped ahead in the line more than a little bit... Dennis emailed me to let me know the holster had shipped... A couple days after that, I had this beautiful piece in hand; a custom Dragon Leatherworks Talon.







Unfortunately, I was also in the middle of travelling for contract work at the time, commuting from Sagle Idaho, to San Francisco California and back, every week...

I would leave home every Sunday night to catch either the 2250, or the 0510 Monday flights from Spokane to SFO (sometimes direct, usually through salt lake, but sometimes other cities), work all week in the city, then head back Friday afternoon on the 1550 or the 1715 flights back up to Spokane.

...Because I was a stubborn and prideful idiot, who "wouldn't let cancer slow me down", and I just had to abuse and exhaust myself to prove it. That abuse and exhaustion would catch up with me a few months later... but that's another story...

I had the holster in hand for almost six weeks before I could actually test it, and take pictures and video. I took about 50 pictures both indoor and out, and made a five minute video... but I wasn't very happy with any of them... The lighting wasn't right, the focus was off in several important shots... in general, I just didn't think they showed the holster off properly, or made it looks nearly as good as it was.

I intended to just scrap the pics I took, and take an entirely new set of interior pics with a new lightbox setup I snagged off of Amazon, and a new set of exterior pics in better lighting and weather.

... and then things kinda exploded...

...Both for my family and I, mostly in a not so great way, but some things very good (like the birth of our son)...

...and for Dragon Leatherworks, in a very good way...

In the five and a bit years since Dennis made me this custom holster, his business has grown massively, and he has been recognized as one of the best makers of custom leather gear out there. He's even made holster rigs, and other props and items for several very popular movies and television shows, like NCIS and Jurassic World.

But, as far as why this review is so delayed... What it comes down to, is that the holster, and the original photos and video I took for the review, were both lost for most of that time.

I just found the original files a few weeks ago while going through old external USB drive... and Dennis just happened to message me a few hours ago, which got me to get my butt in gear, and post the review and pictures.

So... at this point, I'm just going to post the video review, and some of the pictures of the holster... because this is about the review, not about my tale of woe. If you want the rest of the story, you can read the rest below... or you can just enjoy the review and the pretty holster...

My disclaimer here... I don't think that the video or pics are good enough for a review of the product. My focus and lighting weren't great, my commentary is somewhere between wooden and dead... but Dennis said he just wanted me to post my honest review... that he wasn't worried about the rest...

So, without further delay, my already more than five years delayed video review, and photos, of Dragon Leatherworks custom Talon holster, for my commander length 19lls.


Honestly, my pictures and video really don't do justice to the piece. The lighting, color, focus, and background leave a lot to be desired... but they're better than nothing.






Unfortunately, the exterior shots I took were all unusable, as they were almost all out of focus, and had poor sharpness and contrast... these interior shots were at least OK, but really, the holster is a lot better looking than these photos.








To my mind, as far as active custom and semi-custom holster makers go... I think you can't go wrong with Dragon Leatherworks... Veteran owned, 100% hand crafted in Oak Ridge Tennesse... you should check them out.

They have several standard models, of everything from deep concealment holsters, to pocket holsters, to duty holsters, in every kind of leather and finish you can think of... and of course they do full custom original designs as well.

If you like the Galco combat master, or the Safariland agent series holsters... you'll love the Dragon Leatherworks Talon.

If you're one of the many folks out there who loved the original pre takeover safariland 568 and other 500 series paddle holsters (and their companion models, with j-hooks or belt tunnels replacing the detachable paddles)...

...and I am, in fact I think they're just about the best paddle holster ever designed, but I miss the now long past days when they were actually made of leather...

...then you should check out the Dragon Leatherworks Valkyrie. It's everything good about the classic Safariland paddles, only better.

... In fact, I think the next time I order a holster, it's probably going to be a Valkyrie, to replace one of my lost Safariland paddles.

... and that concludes the review portion of the piece... 

...So... if you are actually interested,  the rest of the story is under the break...

Friday, January 13, 2017

Update and a plea for help

So last I wrote, we were dealing with a major issue. Due to some administrative screwups Chris lost his insurance for October through December, aka The Bad Times. This left us with $300k in debt to MGH and assorted docs and froze the treatment plan.
Problem is, he's still got cancer and at least one lump.
The good news is I've managed to salvage the relationship with his PCP and endocrinologist. New insurance started on the 1st of January so we can go forward as soon as we get a new cancer treatment team and get the cash for the deductible and most likely out of pocket max.
We're going to (hopefully) get his case transferred to the cancer treatment center in the same city we live in so we can continue life-saving treatment. Since he's going to do several targeted radiation treatments this will save us much in time and hassle.
So that's the good part. PCP and endocrinologist are managed, so he still has his medications (including the very important pain meds) and we've got insurance so we can continue treatment, even though it will be at a new place.
Also good news, we've picked up a second vehicle (paid for in cash), a 3/4 ton truck to act as our work horse. Ever since the spinal injury Chris has been unable to drive the Blazer and finds the passenger seat excruciating. A big truck allows his big frame enough room to not compress and restores some of his independence, since it's something he can drive.
The bad: the truck needs a few replacement parts, an inspection (it will pass), an oil change, some good tires (vs the questionable ones on it at the moment), and to be registered.
That wouldn't be such a pressing concern if it weren't for the other bad news, in that we've had to take the Blazer off the road for a laundry list of reasons, including brakes literally falling off of it. For all that getting the truck current will cost around $900, getting the Blazer road worthy would be much more intensive. The parts would be less, but between taking care of the two Chrises and taking care of the house, I'd have to pay someone else to do the work and... it's cheaper to get the truck road worthy, plus more useful.
On top of that we need to pay the deductible for the new insurance since we'll probably blow through that walking into the new cancer center, AND the out of pocket max for the same reason. We're also paying out of pocket for his meds until we meet the deductible (around $1200 a month for the meds alone).The out of pocket max is $10k.
After paying the month's bills and making sure we have transportation for both of us in the form of the truck, AND buying meds, AND buying equipment for Chris to work more (he's been requested to do something that requires infrastructure, and though he's working more paying days doing it, as a contractor we paid for the materials out of pocket)... we're pretty much broke. I couldn't even pay for meds a few days ago.
Obviously we need to get Chris back on a treatment plan ASAP so we can keep fighting the cancer as soon as possible, and there's those tiny things called food and gas.
So I must beg financial assistance, so we can get over this rather massive hump. After we clear the out of pocket max our medical costs will nosedive, but first we need to actually get to that point. And we're kind of attached to having food in the house and keeping Christopher in pull-ups.
So please, anything you could spare would help.
I've still got the GoFundMe up and running, PayPal to chris@chrisbyrne.com always works (and is immediately available unlike GoFundMe), and I can always be reached on Facebook.
Thanks all,
Mel

Friday, December 30, 2016

Fuck you 2016

So yeah... This year has been GREAT. 2016's newest victim is our only vehicle.

Can't get the Blazer out of the driveway... Find out the battery is close to dead, go to pop the hood to check the belts and jump start and THE HOOD WON'T OPEN.

On top of something that is making a grinding noise, several warning lights, needing a brake job, and needing ICE TIRES.

Oh, did I mention I was headed to the post office to MAIL OFF OUR INSURANCE PREMIUM SO WE CAN TREAT MY HUSBAND'S CANCER?!?!?!

Yeah... We need a new truck. Can we afford a new truck, and rent, and bills? Of course we can't. Do we need a truck to do things like get to the frickin cancer center for treatment and the pharmacy and the bank and to get food? Yes, yes we do.

Will getting the Blazer fixed cost as much as getting another vehicle? Yes, yes it will.

So, WE NEED ANOTHER VEHICLE.

Fuck you 2016, fuck you very much.

I've still got the GoFundMe up and running, and PayPal to chris@chrisbyrne.com always works.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

You've got to be kidding me...

I set up the premiums on Chris's health insurance to automatically come out of our account.

Guess what never got processed?

Guess what has therefore not been working since August?

Guess what just got canceled?

YEAH.

I wasn't notified that the auto pay wasn't working, that we were behind, or any of it. And with all of the medical bills coming out, it got lost in the shuffle.

To make it even better, since it's a Marketplace plan, the insurance company can't fix it, I have to go through the Marketplace. Thanks ACA, for making this so much worse than it already was.

So... I've got to appeal to the marketplace for retroactive coverage, AND make a balloon payment for said coverage, if I can ever catch the phone lines at a time where the wait isn't 2 hours...

SO PISSED. SO UPSET. SO PANICKED. SO TERRIFIED.

Oh, and there went all of my plans for Christmas, because huge balloon payment. Christmas was barely going to exist as it was, now it's just not going to happen.

Because now, in order to not become responsible for $300k in medical bills over the past 4 month, we must pay 4 months of premiums, which we can't really do, because...

Chris is in a lot of pain while the nerves in his lower back and butt come back online, and there are meds I MUST pick up for him so he's not in screaming agony, so he can continue to work and not feel like a burden, and so he can continue recovering and we can continue getting back on our feet, and just...

So close. We were so close to being through this. Chris has been working 10+ hour days so we have the cash to catch up and pay the back bills and we were so close to breaking even...

But I've got meds to pay the discounted cash price for, and I must pick up so Chris can keep from screaming, and then 4 months of insurance premiums to pay, assuming my appeal is successful and they'll let me pay. So thousands of dollars going out almost immediately, so we don't pay $300k.

Thousands we don't have, even taking Christmas off the table.

There's a reason I've been sobbing off and on all day. If I don't get this fixed, we're horribly screwed, despite doing everything we could to keep this from happening.

So I really must ask for help, so we can avoid being completely screwed.

Anything would help.

The aforementioned GoFundMe is still up and running, and PayPal to chris@chrisbyrne.com always works.

Thanks all,

Mel

Monday, December 05, 2016

Wideners Primer on Smokeless powder

Wideners has been serving the needs of serious shooters and reloaders for about as long as modern shooting has existed.
They've produced this primer on smokeless powder, that will be of interest to you, whether you're a beginner or a veteran reloader. https://www.wideners.com/smokeless-powder-guide

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

The Quarter Ride

Took the boy to the grocery store. There's two doors to the grocery store, and next to one of them is one of those quarter ride machines, this time a horse. Which is why I never use that entrance.

Well, Christopher spotted it at the beginning of the shopping and of course wanted a ride. I almost always have a pile of quarters in my purse, and we're working on delayed gratification, so I told him if he behaved in the store he could have a ride.

Check out. He fulfilled his part of the deal, so we walk put the door to fulfill my part...

There's a youngish couple there, with a 3 year old or so little boy. Waiting with their cart full of groceries.

Chronic poverty and hardship leave marks, if you know where to look, and they were definitely marked.

As I put Christopher on the ride, the mother watched with a total look of sadness and guilt. The little boy watched with a look of envy, sadness, and resignation. A family in which life was so hard that a quarter couldn't be found or spared.

I know how both sides of that equation feels, and I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

After the boy was done, I pulled another quarter out of my purse, handed it to the mother, and said "I've been there."

The music for the ride started up as I walked away.

Mel

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Another post surgical update

For those of you not following along on Facebook, this is Chris's description of things after rhabdomyolysis:

" So... The condition of my legs post rhabdo.... Really very doubleplusungood.

A significant fraction... almost 1/3 overall, and in some areas more than half, of my muscle tissue, has died or is damaged so badly it might as well be.

Fluid pockets are all over my legs, ass, back, and behind my knees. Some of them quite swollen and distended, some looser and wrinkly.

A shallow feel of the muscles  and they're... Well, they're either not there at all, or they're spongy and limp. Zero muscle tone at all, and rubbing and squeezing hard... the muscle tissue doesnt feel like muscle at all... more like... yarn, soaked in water.

I started massaging my left earlier thigh and calf earlier... and any time I went the slightest bit hard, it was like electric shocks from the pressure of my fingers. I tried using a vibrating massager, and I literally couldn't stand the nerve pain...

... so I guess it's healing a little at least...

I think I'm going to need surgery to correct the skin at some point... I know I will on my belly. I may need surgery to deal with the fluid pockets if they don't even out and drain on their own... and I may still end up having more muscle damage, never mind constantly having to do PT to avoid atrophy, or healing contracture.

Oh and yeah... that's where the itch is worst.... but pain drowns it out."

But there is good news. He's dropping excess water weight from edema and lymphedema very quickly, and he's regaining some mobility. He's still bedridden though.

He's got a PT nurse visiting twice a week to help him recover.

He's working this week, which helps immensely.

His pain is mostly under control.

We've managed to get the major medical devices he needs bought and paid for, and we've mostly adapted.

That being said there's still some challenges ahead. We need to get our vehicle fixed (minor problems like an ABS sensor and similar issues), inspected, and renewed by the end of the month. We need to get out heating oil topped up. We need to catch up on bills in general. We're close, but not quite there.

And then radiation will be soon, and that's going to be a fairly costly endeavor in terms of logistics (and really underscores the need for the vehicle to be fixed and legal).

So we still need some help. And anything would help.

I've still got a GoFundMe set up, and PayPal to chris@chrisbyrne.com always works. Also, if anyone has any winter clothes for a little boy in 4T or kids VHS lying around and would like to find a home for them, please email me at melody dot Byrne at Gmail dot com.

Thanks all,

Mel

Monday, October 31, 2016

The Worlds Most Practical Drunkards

I believe it fair to say, the British are the worlds most practical drunkards.

How so? 

Allow me to provide just one of many possible examples, which would tend to bear my thesis out:

The British were, in their time, the most thoroughgoing and successful imperialists the world had seen since Xerxes and Alexander (and by some measures, one might even say the most succesful of all time, without exception); controlling colonies, territories, and other posessions, in every corner of this good earth.

As it happens, the greatest fraction of these many jewels of empire, were located in tropical climes.

Being native to a few cool, damp, and windy isles, adrift between the north and Irish seas; the British peoples, were not notably tolerant of the extremely hot and humid conditions prevailing in these tropical regions. Nor did they posess notable natural resistance, to the many, varied... and it must be said, most unpleasant... diseases and maladies endemic to them

This however, did not appreciably deter the British from sending many of their best and brightest young men (or at least those rich enough to buy an officers comission, or secure a place in colonial service, or the EITC)... along with a few of those who managed to survive previous such assignments and adventures, and reach middle age; to govern them (which is to say, govern both the tropical colonies, and the young men in question... I will leave the determination of which was the greater challenge, to the reader).

This of course had the entirely predictable result of mortality rates for those posted to the tropics, often exceeding one in four. In fact, there were years in which some postings, suffered as many as seven in ten men, lost to these terrible ailments.

Still... Being British, and having a surplus of second, third, and fourth sons in the officer classes in those years...

...(and there always being an excess of the lower classes (men, women, and children) unable to find gainful employment in the home islands; there was no lack of those in Britain willing to serve as common soldiers, or take contracts of indentured service for 5 or 10 years, in order to seek better fortune in the colonies.

And of course, there was never a shortage of those convicted of minor criminal offences, such as stealing less than 10 shillings {that being a half pound, or about two weeks wages for a common laborer... about $1,000 today. Stealing more than 10 shillings meant a long prison term. Stealing more than 5 pounds, meant hanging}, failing to pay ones debts, incorrigible drunkenness, vagrancy, prostitution, or being Irish; who could be involuntarily transported to the colonies for a term of labor)...

...the frightful casualty rates did not give pause to the colonial administrators (or more importantly, the governors of the East India Trading Company). It only served to double, and redouble their efforts to find ways to prevent, and treat these illnesses.

After only 200 or so years of mass casualties... nothing of great importance... by the early 1800s, it was accepted that daily prophylactic treatment with tincture of quinchona bark... quinine...  would help prevent and treat these diseases, particularly the most common of them (and the one that killed the most people... and still does today), malaria.

Further, it was found to be more effective when combined with tincture of red willow bark...acetylsalicylic acid, aka aspirin... which helped reduce fevers, headaches, and other complaints and maladies of the joints and muscles.

Both tinctures are quite bitter however, and prone to upsetting ones stomach, particularly in the strengths necessary to be effective in resisting and treating tropical diseases.

Mixing these tinctures with a fair bit of sugar... thankfully common in the tropical colonies... helped make them more palatable, though still not pleasant tasting.

Diluting a spoonful of the resulting mixture, into a few ounces of water and bicarbonate of soda, or otherwise carbonated "soda water", tends to buffer the mixture; eliminating any tendency to upset ones stomach, and producing a healthful tonic, aiding in one's digestion.

Speaking of water... Of course, the heat and humidity being what they are in the tropics, one must always guard against dehydration, and heat stroke. To avoid this, it is advisable to sit in shady and cool areas, and drink plenty of water, preferably mixed with some of the vitamins and minerals that we lose through exertion and sweating.

It is even more important to stay hydrated when one is ill, and the tropical diseases under discussion, tend to cause extreme fluid and mineral loss, due to their unpleasant symptoms and side effects.

Unfortunately, lacking natural resistance to local waterborne pathogens, water in those regions was often not safe for the British to drink untreated; and in fact, drinking such water untreated proved to be one of the infection vectors for the unpleasant tropical diseases in question.

Thankfully, it was found that mixing local water with 80 proof alcohol (preferably alcoholic infusions of medicinal herbs and spices, such as juniper and various other various berries, citrus, rosemary, anise, cinnamon, nutmeg, and coriander), to a concentration of at least 12% alcohol by volume, generally proved sufficient to sanitize the water, rendering it safe to drink.

Such alcoholic infusions also proved to mix well in similar proportion with the previously mentioned healthful carbonated tonic, contrasting it's bitterness, with a sweet, citrusy, and herbaceous character, which proved much more pleasant to drink; though still not quite right yet...

At that time, British people were not in the habit of regularly eating much in the way of fresh fruit or vegetables, as their native islands had a relatively short growing season, and comparatively few hardy native species suited to it, which could last rhrough the winter and spring months (either fresh or preserved). And of course, they also had long sea journeys to reach the tropics; during which such foodstuffs were unavailable.

This lack of fresh fruits and vegetables, in turn often led to several other deficiencies and diseases, most notable scurvy.

However, around the same time our healthful tonic came into common use, it was also confirmed that the juice of limes (and other citrus fruits of course, but limes were the easiest to grow or purchase, and stored the longest without spoiling ) provided one with the nutritive elements necessary to prevent and treat these deficiences and diseases, including scurvy.

As a further benefit, it was found that the juice of citrus fruits, when mixed with water and a little sugar, make a lovely tasting, and quite refreshing beverage; which is more effective than water alone at preventing and treating dehydration, heat stroke, and the... other unpleasant gastrointestinal effects shall we say... of tropical diseases.

Thus, a concoction of gin, tonic, and lime, mixed in proper proportion, and drunk at least twice daily, preferably in a cool shady spot with a nice breeze; serves to refresh ones thirst, aid in one's digestion, prevent and treat malaria and other tropical diseases, as well as prevent and treat heat stroke, dehydration, scurvy, headache, fever, aches and pains of the muscles and joints, and other such ailments as one might suffer from.

Personally, I have also noted it tends to improve ones attitude and outlook, and is quite salutary to ones mental and emotional health, and general state of mind.

Given this, I'm sure you will agree, it can be fairly said that the British are, by far, the worlds most practical drunkards.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Where things stand (and radiation is coming)

So where things are now...

Chris will have been out of the hospital 3 weeks tomorrow. He's slowly getting feeling back, and rapidly dropping excess water weight and lymphadema. He's not back to where he was before surgery, but he's closer.

The endocrinologist is getting the radioactive iodine treatment scheduled for sometime in the next few weeks, either at Dartmouth-Hitchcock or Massachusetts General. They are the two nuclear medicine centers closest to us that can handle the high dose Chris will need.

Make no mistake, it will be a very high dose. The endocrinologist wants the dose titrated according to his body weight and uptake, so it will most likely be higher than the standard emergency dose.

I expect him to be out of work for at least two weeks following.

In the meantime, although he is working, it's not enough to catch up on the bills, pay the insurance premiums, get more heating oil, and fix a few things on the Blazer so it can pass inspection in November, which is also when I'll need to renew the registration.

So we're almost there, so very close, but not quite there.

But Chris is getting better, and that's what matters.

I've still got the GoFundMe up and running, and PayPal to chris@chrisbyrne.com always works.

Thanks all,

Mel

Monday, October 17, 2016

Now I can do a REAL surgery update

So... Chris ended up spending a whole week in the hospital.

He should have been discharged the day after the surgery but...

He experienced a surgical complication. A rather severe complication.

The wrong size bed was ordered for him, which to their credit the surgical team noticed. However they gave him the choice of postponing the surgery AGAIN or proceeding.

Obviously he chose to proceed.

He ended up spending 16 hours in the wrong bed in the wrong position, leading to positional compression. The compression led to spasming muscles down his entire left side. The spasming muscles led to severe rhabdomyolysis.

Via Wikipedia:

"Rhabdomyolysis is a condition in which damaged skeletal muscle breaks down rapidly.[3] Symptoms may include muscle pains, weakness, vomiting, and confusion.[3][4] There may be tea colored urine or an irregular heartbeat. Some of breakdown products, such as the protein myoglobin, are harmful to the kidneys and may lead to kidney failure.[3]"

The rhabdo was severe enough that it could have killed him.

Chris was able to walk into the hospital with a cane and normal amounts of pain, and able to do normal activities; a week later he was wheeled out in a wheelchair partially paralyzed and unable to take care of himself, with a desperate need for painkillers and muscle relaxants.

It was quite a shock.

Adapting has been difficult.

Christopher spent several days with his great-aunt while we managed this emergency.

The surgeon ordered biweekly visits from a home visit nurse and a physical therapy nurse. They're helping.

Chris is getting better.

However... between medical equipment that needed bought (including urinals, commodes, walker, foot braces, etc), parking, gas, meals, and in general handling this emergency, this surgical complication cost us around $1800.

And quite possibly 10 years off of my life...

The partial paralysis is much better. The edema is getting better. The kidney warning signs (which were BAD for a while) have greatly reduced. He's still bedridden and still needs much more help than usual, but he's slowly getting better.

But not gonna lie, this whole thing scared the living daylights out of us and cost us quite a bit. We're gonna make it though.

So as much as I would like to suspend fundraising, I can't. This really did us in, financially. But he's alive and getting better, and that's what matters.

I've still got the GoFundMe up and running, and PayPal to chris@chrisbyrne.com always works. Anything would help.

Thanks all,

Mel

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Doing much better

Chris is doing somewhat better. He's starting to regain feeling in his left foot, and unlike last night where he needed two nurses to help him move from the chair to the bed, today it only took one nurse and a walker.

Christopher is staying with his great-aunt another night.

I'm going to hang around in Boston a bit longer, get lunch, and then (at Chris's urging) go back to the house and get it prepped for him to be able to use the walker.

He's off of the Ativan and just on pain meds.

The biggest sign that he's doing better is that he objected to my original plan of staying in Boston another night, said the expense wasn't justified, and to just go home and prep. If he can argue with me that means he has the energy to do so. Also means he can act as his own advocate, instead of being zoned out or in too much pain.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Doing better

Chris Byrne is looking much better.

I dropped Christopher off with his great-aunt, so I'm in Boston overnight to attend to Chris's needs as much as I can.

Chris is on muscle relaxers and pain relief so the muscle spasms are much reduced.

I went back to NH to check the mail, deposit Chris's paycheck, get some more clothes, check on the dogs, and drop Christopher off.

Paycheck hadn't arrived yet so deposit didn't happen.

Obviously the expenses of more gas, parking, and staying another night in Boston are adding up, so if anyone feels like helping out I can access donations using PayPal to chris@chrisbyrne.com immediately for the short term expenses.

Thanks all.

Surgery update, again

Chris Byrne is doing better today.

What happened was he spent so much time on a hard surface in the same position that his back and pelvis locked up and went into spasm, and stayed there all of last night.

He's not mobile, is under heavy muscle relaxers and pain relief, and is drifting in and out.

He's not likely to be discharged today, which was the original plan.

Waiting to talk to someone who can tell me what's going to happen.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Surgery update

So I don't have the surgeon's report yet because we missed the surgeon somehow, but...

Chris Byrne went into the OR at 9:30 am and surgery was done at approximately 3:00.

I expected to see him not too long after, because he always comes out of anesthesia quickly.

Well I didn't see him until 7:30 pm, because there were problems in the recovery room.

He's in a lot of pain. How much?

Well, those of you who know his pain tolerance and the fact that he lives with chronic pain... he was hyperventilating and crying.

The nurse had managed to get pain management cleared before I even flagged her down (which was as soon as I possibly could).

He... doesn't look good. I'm saying this as someone who has already seen him through 2 similar surgeries, which treated him much better.

It's not the surgeon's fault, he's an absolute master of his trade. No, this is the cancer.

I managed to get him food ordered (he couldn't even do that for himself) and answer the nurse's questions (which he also couldn't do and gladly handed over to me), all while I wrangled an over tired 3 year old.

I left the hospital with Christopher at 8:30 pm.

I haven't heard from the surgeon yet, as he was handling another case and, I suspect at least, things aren't over for the night.

Frankly, I'm scared. I've never seen him like this, even after the other surgeries, and I'm scared he's not going to recover as well. I'm also scared he's not going to recover properly at all.

Any prayers would be appreciated.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Regression to the tribalist mean

The alt right... and to a lesser extent, even the more mainstream but still largely reactionary populist right... have become nothing more than a mirror of the far left; even so far as using the same rhetoric, and tactics, as the Gramscians and the alinskyites.

We have now reached a state where both the left, and the right, are actively trying to destroy western culture and society, in order to "preserve" or "perfect" it..

This is exactly what Gramscians, the Frankfurt school, and the other criticalists, set out to achieve in the early part of the 20th century; in their efforts to destroy western capitalism, and introduce "scientific socialism".

The left have essentially always... and now much of the right have joined them... not just criticised, or rejected, but in fact actively worked to tear down; the individualist ideals of the enlightenment which made this country possible...

...and which... while flawed and never living up to those ideals as we would like... made this country work reasonably well, most of the time, for most people, over the last 225 years (particularly the last 160 or so).

The left do so, because they fundamentally believe that the individualist ideal is not just false, but is morally wrong; instead believing in a model of collective identity, collective authority, and collective rights; defined by society as a whole, for the benefit of society as a whole.

This is entirely antithetical to the individualist concept and ideals this nation was not just founded in, but which in fact this nation is an entirely a creature of. Our constitution depends on that concept, derives it's authority and legitimacy from it, and is entirely a creature of it.

Three of the four greatest political achievments of the enlightenment (the other, was the rejection of slavery and other involuntary servitude... which follows necessarily from the other three) were:

First, the elevation and enshrinement of the concept of inherent, fundamental, and preexisting individual rights (no right being greater or superior to any other; nor any rights of any individual being greater or superior to any other individual... be they titled king, or senator or president; nor any rights of any collective, organization, government, state or other entity, or its members, leaders, officers, or agents,  being greater or superior to those of any other individual).

Second... which follows directly from the first... the elevation and enshrinment of the concept that government derives it's legitimate powers and authority, by the consent and delegation of those rights by the governed. Rights which must be respected and protected by any government, and by any law, for any government or law to be legitimate; the powers and authorities of which , are not superior to, greater than, or otherwise exceeding, those of any individual.

Third... which follows directly from the first two... the development of the high trust society; where individuals and organizations, trust that regardless of any "identity" or other factor, or any individual or collective favor or disfavor, enmity or amity; their rights will be protected and respected both by their fellow citizens and by the government (and its agents), that contracts will be fulfilled, that the law will be written fairly and enforced as written, that the government will act as a disinterested arbiter of disputes and enforcer of laws, and that all will be treated equally under the law by the government and it's agents.

These things are required, for our nation to exist at all... and certainly required for it to prosper.

Some may say that none of these things were ever true...

...and that is so... to some extent...

None were ever perfectly true, nor could they be, because people are imperfect, and governments are made up of people... and because the law is an ass...

...But that is not a reason to denigrate or destroy these ideals, or to reject them as false. It is a reason to work towards better embodying and living up to them.

Instead, we are doing the opposite.

The left have for decades, both in an attempt to correct actual or percieved wrongs and inequities, AND as a deliberate attempt to undermine and denigrate the very concepts of individualism, and individual rights as a whole; attempted to carve out specially protected classes and identities, both in law, and in our conception of society.

They have been incredibly successful in doing so, such that the words "protected class" are literally part of many federal, state, and local laws and regulations, and where individual rights conflict with societies or the states expressed desires regarding those "protected classes", those individual rights are abrogated by law.

Further, the left have long attempted to denigrate, dilute, and destroy, the very concept of rights; such that people no longer know what rights are, or why they are important; deliberately conflating state granted franchises, privileges, entitlements etc... with rights.

They have been frighteningly successful in this as well... to the point where many no longer believe rights exist in any meaningful way at all; rather, that "rights" are actually just privileges collectively decided on by society, and granted, revoked, or modified as society sees fit, subject to the whim of the majority, prettied up as "the will of the people".

In fact, many simply do not believe it could possibly be any other way. They have fully internalized the collectivist concept and ideal... even if they believe themselves to be "conservative" or even "libertarian"; saying such things as "rights are whatever the law says they are" or "you don't have any rights, except what society let's you have, everything else is a fantasy"... or worst of all "rights don't actually exist".

This, of course, is core to the concept of the collective society... and entirely counter to the individualist concept.

Just because rights are disrespected, violated, and abrogated doesn't mean they don't exist... Otherwise, you are simply accepting the pre-enlightenment notion, that force... might...makes right... It's just that now we have the tyranny of the majority, rather than the tyranny of the "nobility".

In reaction to this, rather than working to tear down such false and destructive notions, and fight for individual rights; many on the "right"... and even many of those who claim to be "libertarian"...  have simply adopted the lefts core conception... that we are all members of separate competing classes, interests, and  "identities", locked in a zero sum game of exploiters and exploited, victims and victimizers...  and that in order to avoid being the victims, we have to "beat them", and be the tyrants.

It's disgusting... Frankly it's evil... It's a regression to strongman warlordism, dressed up as "identity politics".

This is the embodiment of every bad parody  and false narrative the left has ever spouted about capitalism, individualism, "the right", and our country as Asa whole... all those lies they believed were true, because in their collectivist world view, they couldn't NOT be true... Every zero sum dog eat dog, all wealth is exploitation, in order for one man to get ahead five men must be trampled on lie, that they have been telling for not just decades, but centuries...

Rather than asserting the moral, ethical, and practical correctness and superiority of individual rights; and refusing to play the collectivist zero sum game... 

..."The right" are now simply trying to play the collectivist game... and unsurprisingly, they're losing badly... because that game is wrong, and false, and because the left have a hell of a lot more practice at it.

Worst of all... they're doing it, because the large mass of undereducated and DELIBERATELY misinformed, socially and economically disappointed and sometimes disadvantaged; right reactionary populists... and no, they are in no way conservatives, they are identity politics driven reactionary populists... 

...Who say they believe in individual rights and insividualism, but in reality just want to be back on top of the zero sum pile, above the other "identities" and "classes"...

... are DEMANDING that they do so... Demanding they "take back our country", and "bring back our jobs" and "fight for us", and all the other false narratives they've been convinced they have to "fight" for, or else they'll be the ones exploited by "big business" and "special interests" and "political correctness".

It's disgusting... but entirely predictable.

We are devolving from an individualist high trust culture, into a collectivist low trust culture... cultural regression to mere tribalism.

... and somehow, most people seem to not notice....

... and most of those who do, are either OK with it, or so worried about being  exploited and victimized by the other tribes, that they are too busy jockeying for position to care.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Not doing great... thank God surgery is Thursday

Well, the large tumor mass... it's up over 3 inches wide now, and probably about as deep. It's six or so lymph nodes grown together in a neoplastic agglomeration... has grown big enough to be putting pressure on my airway, and on my various nerves in the area.

That in itself is not great, but I'm now up to more than 150 lbs of excess dependent fluid, between central trunk and peripheral edema, and lymphedema... In fact, I haven't stepped on the scale in a couple weeks, let's see what I'm at right now...

... yeah... not good..  I've gained 170lbs since the first of the year.

...Not 70lbs... ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY pounds...

I was at 360 and losing... Still 75-95lbs over where I wanted to be, but going in the right direction. I was active, and mobile, and had my pain under control. 

... I just weighed myself, and was just almost 530 lbs. Which itself is 35 pounds more than I was 2 weeks ago.

The combination is putting continuous pressure on the nerve trunks in my arms and legs, and is also causing them to swell dramatically, to the point where I have reduced range of motion and reduced strength.. and my skin is stretching taught... it always feels like an overfilled water  baloon about to pop.

This leads to a lovely combination of numbness, shooting pains, and general aches.

It's also putting pressure on my heart and lungs, which combined with the airway pressure, and the pressure on the nerves in my neck... not good.

The sleep apnea... that inevitably comes with having a giant tumor in your neck, plus having all your tissues waterlogged, and having an extra 250 lbs weighing you down... is so bad, that it's not just sleep apnea at this point... If I stay still in a "relaxed" position, and I don't actively keep myself awake and functioning, I drift into semi consciousness, and stop breathing.

I was testing it out earlier, and when I zoned out, my O2 sat dropped to 84% but the alarm roused me enough that I started breathing again. I hate to think what it's like when I actually fall asleep. Last time around, I had O2 sat excursions down into the 55% range, with extended periods under 75%, which my have permanently damaged my short term memory.

The diuretics help a little bit, but the cancer... in particular the neoplastic syndrome associated with it... is screwing up my system so much, that none of my drugs are really working, even if I deliberately up the doses.

My metabolic function is so low, that I either have enough energy to digest food, or to actually stay fully conscious... not both at once. If I eat something, I have to lay down and half pass out for a while.

Last time, we figured out that my metabolic function was running between 25% and 40% normal at my worst. I figure it's similar this time.

Basically, I feel like I'm drowning, while having a heart attack, while having my joints forcibly separated, and my skin inflated to the point of near popping, with slight interludes of mere total exhaustion and mild suffocation in between.

... only instead of hurting real bad for 4 minutes then stopping... because either you're dead, or you recover... this is 24/7.

Honestly... Dying would be better than this. Dying would end.

The only reason I can tolerate it at all is for Mel and the boy... I don't know if I could take another month of this... if it weren't for them I know I couldn't... don't think I could have got this far.

Surgery is Thursday... thank God.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Well now...

I'm sick as a dog so forgive me if this is disjointed.

Chris has successfully worked for a few weeks and is continuing to work.

Surgery is still on for September 29th.

Chris's best friend is moving in with us next week.

Christopher continues to be a mini engineer.

The landlord texted me to let me know that unlike that past few months he can't wait for the rent, because he's going to be gone the next two weeks. So rent has become a pressing priority with a shorter timetable.

So we're getting there, but we still need help.

I've still got a GoFundMe set up and PayPal to chris@chrisbyrne.com always works, as well as Messenger for me.

I'm going to go take meds and pass out for the night and hope my vertigo is gone tomorrow.

Thanks all.

Mel

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Health and other updates

Chris has been working for a week and a half. The entire household is going through an adjustment period, the doggies in particular.

Last week one of the sprinklers in our house fire suppression system failed, resulting in lots of water in a short amount of time. We ended up laying out cash for a wet/dry vac and mold inhibitor.

I've been working on cleaning up the mess and preventing mold and mildew for a week.

Chris's health seems to have plateaued, in that he's not really getting worse (except the lymphedema is somewhat worse) but he's not getting better. The lymphedema is a real issue and causes him quite a bit of pain and discomfort.

Surgery is on September 29th.

I seem to be getting sick, either from a cold or dealing with mildew as it occurs. Frankly it's a challenge to write this post, that's how sick I feel.

Chris will be getting paid soon, but we've got rent, cell phone, electric, internet, meds, health insurance premium, and food to pay for until he does. So while we hopefully won't need much (or any) help soon, we still need it for now.

Anything would help.

I've still got a GoFundMe set up, and PayPal to chris@chrisbyrne.com always works, and Messenger payments work really well.

Thanks all,

Mel

Thursday, August 18, 2016

A simple test of understanding, to avoid wasting time.



I have a simple test for people, to determine whether or not they actually understand enough about the issue of "Climate change" to have an informed position on it, or whether it's just a question of ingroup identification for them.

I.e. whether they actually know what they're talking about, or whether they're just repeating what "their side" are supposed to say.

Here it is: Explain your understanding of the theory of catastrophic anthropogenic climate change.

Yes, really, it's that "simple"... but their answer will be quite revelatory.

Most people will say something like "greenhouse gasses like co2 emitted by humans are making the climate change, and if we don't dramatically change how much energy we use, the whole planet will suffer" or something similar.

That indicates but doesn't confirm, that they have absolutely no idea what they're talking about; they're just repeating what they were told.

They have to understand that the FULL theory in question is more precisely described as something like:

Ultra high sensitivity, primarily anthropogenic carbon emissions forced, full climatic systemic feedback inversion; from a stable negative feedback system, to an unstable positive feedback system; leading to catastrophic rapid and runaway increase in global average temperature generally, and polar temperature particularly; with a resultant radical variability of global air and sea currents and thermoclines, massive ice melt, and 2 to 26 meter rise in global sea level; on a less than 2 century time scale, originally predicated on an immediate 1.6 to 8 degree rise in global average temperatures over the proceeding 25 to 35 years from winter 1985/86, (as distinct from the historical average rise since the last ice age of 0.8 to 3.6 degrees per century), and a doubling or more in anthropogenic atmospheric carbon in this period, with a global point of no return occurring some time between 1998 and 2008; as predicted by the Mann Hansen model of 1985, revised extended and amended periodically since...

... Note... the numbers have such broad ranges, both because the models themselves have very broad ranges, and because they have been repeatedly revised over the previous 30 years. That said, it's the principles and elements of the theory that are important, not the exact numbers...

.... Oh and by the by, we passed that global point of no return on anthropogenic carbon emissions some time between 2001 and 2008 depending on how you calculate it, and the Mann Hansen model has proven to be non-predictive thus far (in fact no models with high carbon sensitivity have proven to be anything close to reliably predictive), while models primarily driven by solar and atmospheric particulate variability have proven to be reliably predictive...

If they don't know what all the elements of the theory are, and they don't thoroughly understand what those things mean, nd how they differ from the historical record, and more conventional climate theories popular before the Mann Hansen model...

Well then... they don't actually know anything about "Climate Change". They just know what team they're supposed to be on, and what that team tells them to say.

Remington, reliability, and the R51



I thought I'd write a bit about the Remington R51, because a lot of friends really like the look of it (and the original Remington model 51 it was based on) when they brought it out a few years ago, and they were very disappointed when it proved so unreliable that Remington had to discontinue production and recall all the shipped pistols.

Recently, Remington brought out a revised version of the R51, and it has come back to mixed reviews; some stating it had fine reliability, and some that it had better than the first production run, but still poor reliability.

TFB-TV, the video production side of the Firearms Blog, ran a full test of the weapon, on video, with 600 rounds of 8 different kinds of ammo... and really, the quote speaks for itself:
"After 600 rounds of testing, the [second gen.] Remington R51 is looking like the kind of gun I'd want my enemy to have in a gunfight" -- TFB TV
Watching the testing, I think I have a pretty good idea of what's wrong... and I thought I'd break it down here.

Basically, the only ammo it would run cleanly with, was the hot German 124gr NATO round nose FMJ stuff. It had just one total failure in about 200 rounds of that ammo.

That's very good ammo by the way, and my favorite factory load for breaking in difficult 9mm pistols, and for shooting through subguns and 9mm carbines. You used to be able to get it pretty cheap by the "battlepack", but I haven't seen any available lately.

The remainder of 8 ammo types tested were averaging one malfunction per every other mag of brass ammo, and the weapon wouldn't run any steel cased ammo at all, with one or more malfunctions per magazine.

Essentially all the malfunctions with brass cased ammo were nosedives, most of which the slide overrode. This normally suggests that the magazines are the primary issue... as is generally the case with MOST self loading firearm malfunctions.

Given the 124gr nato ran very well, and all of the other ammo did not... most of it was lighter, and if it wasn't lighter it was hollowpoint... It seems the weapon is extremely sensitive to cartridge OAL and nose profile.

The German 124gr nato ammo has a long ogive nose profile, making it a couple millimeters longer over all, than either a 124gr JHP, or lighter FMJ or JHP loads (its also longer than 124gr winchester white box, which has a shorter ogive and a rounder more spherical nose profile).

That NATO spec ammo is also hotter than most ammunition... in between an American +P and +P+... It will result in higher slide speeds and energy, even with the "Pedersen Hesitation Lock" blowback action, because it's a modified blowback system that locks the barrel and breech block together until pressure drops, but it still has much more energy hitting the slide earlier in the timing cycle, than a Browning or Walther style locked breech operation (and because it pressure dependent, it is much more sensitive to ammunition variability).

What this suggests to me (as an engineer, a gunsmith, and a shooter) is a combination of timing, and magazine issues.

Hesitation lock weapons are almost always going to run better with hotter ammunition, and may be unreliable with lighter loads. Also, cartridges that obturate differently, or that have different lubricity and stiction (such as steel cases vs. brass), may dramatically alter the timing of the weapon compared to brass test loads.

If  you tune an action to run reliably with lighter pressure ammunition, with hotter ammunition it's more likely to unlock too early, and possibly malfunction, accelerate wear, or even have a catastrophic failure.

If you tune it to run reliably with hotter ammunition, though it will be less likely to have safety and durability issues, and will wear less; it may be unreliable with lower pressure loads.

It's a delicate balancing act that's difficult to manage even with all other factors being perfect. Adding steel cases which obturate in the chamber very differently, and which have dramatically different friction characteristics, just adds another set of issues to the tolerance stack.

That's the timing issue. But, while the other +P ammunition also ran better than the standard pressure, it still had problems... thus the magazine issues.

Its likely that the magazine lips and follower are presenting the cartridge too far back, and too low, at too shallow an angle, and with too much friction on the cartridge.

This combination would cause the feeding cartridge to tilt nose downward too far... without moving forward, or at least before it moves far enough forward... thus a cartridge with too short an OAL may fail to engage the feed ramp, and instead slam into the front of the magazine.

Since the slide is overriding the cartridges instead of jamming on the rims, it also means it's pushing the cartridge stack down far enough, with little enough effort, to continue its stroke.

The failures with steel cased ammo were mostly nosedives as well, but there were also FTI failures, from light primer strikes.

They had nosedive failures every few rounds with steel, which doesn't surprise me, because steel is going to have higher feeding friction, against the mag lips, mag follower, and the rounds under it. Thus the nosedive problem would be exacerbated.

The light primer strikes are lightly due to inadequate force exerted on the firing pin, rather than any more complicated issue.

Both of these issues indicate to me that they used springs that are either too light by spec, or too soft by QC, both for the internal hammer, and for the magazine.

These spring issues are common failures in quality control for any manufacturer, and common problems with any self loading pistol... and frankly, are not surprising given the state of Remingtons manufacturing and quality control issues over the past few years.

When the geometry and timing of a design are just barely on the edge of being reliable, a slightly soft spring can easily make the difference between a weapon that runs, and one that doesn't.

So... what do you do to fix it?

As a manufacturer or a gunsmith, there some relatively simple changes that might help.

First, I would try a slight revision in the mags and mag catches, to make the magazine sit just a little bit higher could improve feeding function; as could a slight easing of the feed lips, reducing friction on the feeding cartridge, and presenting it in a slightly more nose up attitude, allowing it to move further forward with less pressure; thus making it easier for the cartridge to engage the feed ramp and jump up under the extractor, rather than nosediving (particularly for shorter OAL or steel cased cartridges).

If one has an R51 that is overly load sensitive, and has similar issues, and changing to a stronger mag spring doesn't resolve them, then one could try easing the feed lips slightly themselves, as well as polishing them with emery cloth, to reduce feeding friction.

Other than that... There's not much you can do, except to internally blueprint the gun... polish metal mating surfaces, deburr anything that would be in a feed path etc...; and make sure that your springs are good.

Self loading firearms are all going to be sensitive to timing, ammunition variability, magazine geometry, quality control in springs and mags, and quality control in general; and pistols doubly so over rifles, since you've got much less energy and much shorter distances and time windows to deal with.

Honestly, it's pretty easy to make one unreliable, and pretty difficult to make one reliable.

Using a locked breech design helps reduce the variables, and make them less sensitive, which is why you don't see many full power centerfire pistols that don't have a locked breech mechanism.

Even the original Remington model 51 was only available in .32acp and .380acp. There's good reason why blowback pistols... even modified blowback pistols such as the R51... above .380acp in power are rare.

You're already cutting your tolerances close and stacking them high... when you add questionable quality control on top of it... well... the results are... predictably unpredictable shall we say?

Monday, August 15, 2016

But Maybe It'll be Different THIS Time... Right?

There's a frustrating paradox... People understand that corporations will generally act in what they believe to be their own best interest... as will the people who make up those corporations...
... but then think somehow that government (which is made up of the same people who make up corporations) will not act in IT'S best interest...
... and further, somehow people don't understand, that the best interests of government, are NOT the best interests of the people.
Of course they're not. If they happen to coincide, it is a happy accident, or its because they are catering to a specific interest, to gain support, power, and resources.
Somehow, people seem to persist in this utterly irrational set of beliefs, that government is "looking out for them" against its own interests, no matter how much evidence there is... basically the entirety of history... to the contrary.
Even when they acknowledge that this was "sometimes true in the past", or sometimes they think "now it is anyway",  they blame outside factors like "corporate corruption" and "special interests"; rather than seeing and accepting, that the government simply acts in its own interest, and that when it doesn't, it's an exception, not the rule.
Somehow, they keep convincing themselves, that the "right people" will really "fix it", and  "look out for them".
Somehow, they keep thinking "this time, if we just get people who are good enough and smart enough... this time, it will be different".
No... it won't be.
Never mind the proof presented by all of history, it won't be, because it can't be.
What do I mean by that?
Well... this is going to take a while... but let's simplify as much as possible, and start with breaking down some core assumptions and fallacies.
Like this one...
"The government acts in the interests of the people".
It doesn't. And it's not because of "corruption" or "corporate money" or "special interests"... or at least not as most people think of those things.
The false dichotomy of "Corporations and special interests vs. Government, acting in the interests of the people", is so obvious, I really don't understand how anyone can possibly believe it at this point.
But they do... in their millions and billions.
The problem at core, seems to be that people confuse and conflate the government, with the nation, and the people as a whole, as if they were one thing, or at least always aligned together collectively.
This is entirely false.
They then believe that somehow "corporations" and "special interests", are some kind of other thing, acting against "the people", for which "the government" is their champion, advocate, and defender.
This is also entirely false.
These false notions, completely ignore the fact that the corporation itself, is a special creature of government, created and protected by the government. That without special status granted by government, and the special protection of government, corporations are nothing but a voluntary collective of individuals (theoretically acting in common or aligned interest), with no power or protection greater than any individual.
... That's also what a government is supposed to be right, except the "common interest" is supposed to be "the common interest of all the people", right?
Of course, that's also what a union is supposed to be right? Or a political movement? Or any other voluntary collective institution, which is granted special status and protection by the government. They're collectives of individuals, acting in common or aligned interest. They are in fact protected interests, as much as they are institutions or corporations etc...
... and this is where the fallacy breaks down completely...
Of course, by creating, protecting, and then catering to these protected institutions; the government, and those within it, secure their own positions, and gain power and control. With this power and control, they then create more protected interests and institutions, cater to them, and receive even more power and control in return, in a self reinforcing cycle.
"Corporations" are not opposed by government.
Protected institutions and interests, such as corporations, are creatures of government. Neither can exist, or thrive, without the other. More importantly, neither are acting in the interests of individuals outside of themselves... nor should anyone expect they would... their purpose is to act in the interests of those who make them up.
That's the very definition of "special interests" by the way.
So.. that's corruption right?
No, actually, it's not. It's corruption if there is a quid pro quo of cash or similar value, in exchange for a specific vote... But mostly that's just what politics IS.
People have interests, they gather together in groups, those groups act to further their interests; be it a political party, or a town historical society, or a private club, or a business, or a union. They try to get the government to act in the way they want, and competing interests try to get them act in the ways the competing interest want.
That's politics.
Here's the thing though... Government is just another corporation... another specially protected institution, and "special interest"... composed of the same people who make up every other corporation and "special interest". They are just another institution acting in their own interest, like all institutions do.
Yes, that's right, the government itself, is just another "special interest".
And the government, acts in its own interest. Not yours, or mine, or "the peoples"... It's own.
No-one is acting in the interest of "the people" as a whole, or of individuals, but those individuals themselves; and the voluntary collectives they form and join, in order to specifically act in those interests...
Those would also be "special interests" by the way...
So... how can two "special interests" created by, protected by, supported by, and supporting, each other; be truly opposed to each other, except in competing for power and resources with each other?
How can one "special interest" be acting in its own interest, and the other "special interest"... the government itself... be acting AGAINST its own interest; by instead acting in your individual interest, or in the interest of "the people" as a whole?
It should be obvious that it can't.
Now... here's the even bigger issue though... and this itself seems to be the core conceptual problem:
"The People" don't actually exist.
There is no such thing as "the interests of the people"... because there is no "the people", who all have the same common interest, beyond some very basic concepts and platitudes like "safety" "survival" "prosperity" "happiness" etc...
"The people" is a convenient fiction, to represent all the individuals within "the nation", all of whom have their own interests; sometimes aligned with the interests of others, sometimes opposed to them, sometimes competing with them.
"The Nation" as a whole can have unified interests, such as advantageous foreign policy, and national defense, and the overall safety and prosperity of "the nation" is in the common interest of all the people... but that's not exactly equivalent. In fact, often, what is in the best interest of the nation, is not in the best interests of many of the people.
So, it's not actually possible for ANY government, no matter how well run, no matter how well intentioned, and no matter how well structured, to act for "the people"; except in the broadest possible terms.
Yes, really... no government, of any kind, ever.
That's not a "broken system" or a "perversion of the system"... that's how any system will always be no matter what, because it cannot possibly be other way. There is no other way.
No matter what, that's the way it is, because there is no other way.
As an individual, at best, government can be a disinterested third party... or if you are very lucky, its interests can be aligned with yours for a time, on a particular issue or set of issues.
Often, government is just another "special interest" colluding with other "special interests", against your interests; lying to you about it, and stealing from you to pay for it.
At worst governments interests... or the interests it is catering to against yours, in order to gain more power and control... require you be made powerless, or removed; and it strong arms, bankrupts, imprisons, or kills you... And along the way,  maybe it steals everything you and your family had, and labels you as an enemy of all "good people".
Because that's what government is... it's not just a "special interest", it's a "special interest" that has the power and authority, to take from you at gunpoint, force you to comply with its orders, imprison you, and kill you.
Corporations don't have that power. Unions don't have that power. No other special interest has the power to use force against you, without reprisal, except government...
...Or any other interest, that can get government to do it for them. Which seems to be more common than one would prefer...
The true dichotomy, is the concentrated power and force of specially protected institutions and interests... including the special interests of the government itself... vs. the diffuse power and interests of Individuals.
By the by, this isn't some random theory of my own... I'm just simplifying it and stating it in plain language.
In politics, economics, and sociology; these are known as the agency problem, and the problem of concentrated benefit, and diffuse cost. They're inherent to all governments, and in fact in all other collective institutions and efforts, and they cannot be solved, only mitigated at best.
Unfortunately, we can't eliminate either concentrated interests (and concentrated power) in general, or government in particular. Even if we wanted to, it's not actually possible; because individuals with common interest will tend to act together to concentrate power to more effectively act in their own interest etc... etc...
In the extreme, this means that without some countervailing concentration of power to stop them; the strong will always tend to overpower the weak, and the majority will always tend to overpower the minority.
Also, we actually do need a disinterested third party to resolve disputes (courts), to administer property held in commons, and to coordinate collective efforts for the nation as a whole (such as foreign policy and national defense).
So... we can't get rid of special interests, or concentrated interests and powers general, and we can't get rid of government in particular.
Since that is so... Don't you think it would be best if we would give those specially protected institutions and interests, and those concentrations of power against individual interests... as little power as possible?
Because if we give them the power to act in our own interests today... aren't they just going to turn around and use that power to act against our interests, when it's to their advantage to do so later?
I mean... all logic and reason says that's what will happen... and the entire record of history says that's what will happen...
... but maybe it'll be different THIS time... right?