It's all fun and games ...

Oh wait, if you teach them right, it CAN be fun and games!

John got a bb gun for Christmas last year and he's had a blast getting out in the backyard to shoot it. Zoe finally expressed interest in joining her brother so we grabbed some targets and headed outside.

John shooting

Zoe shooting

They both took turns shooting and insisted on running up after each shot to debate who had the closer hole. Zoe still has trouble pulling the trigger by herself but she's got the enthusiasm! Paper targets were a lot of fun but they got to see how dangerous a bb can be when we shot some unopened soda cans - seeing them fall over and soda jet out of the hole left an impression.

John is just about old enough to get out to the real shooting range - now I just need to get a better .22 rifle for him to shoot. Poor me - another good reason to buy a rifle.

New Shooter - Don't Shoot Your Eye Out Kid!

My son has been asking when he can come to the range with me for quite some time. I figured I'd ease him into it so I suggested to my brother that a BB gun would be a good gift idea. Well, he certainly took that idea and ran with it!

What did he open Christmas morning? A Crosman BB/Pellet rifle! To say he was excited would be an understatement.

John on Christmas morning

In the backyard

Got him out this morning to shoot it for the first time. Lined a few empty cans and an empty milk jug at about 30 feet. While not a natural (yet!), he managed to hit about 50% of the targets the first time! He's a bit small to really use it well - we will see how well he grows into over the next few years before we upgrade him to his own .22 rifle.

I was one proud papa this morning!

PLCB: Pot, meet kettle

So the debate about kicking the state government out of the business of selling alcohol is pretty heated here in Pennsylvania. Of course, the union (UFCW Local 1776) is lobbying very strongly against privatization and one of their arguments is that, since there is no profit incentive, the government employees are better at preventing sales to minors and intoxicated people.
A 39-year-old Liquor Control Board enforcement officer was charged with driving under the influence after a crash in downtown Pittsburgh late Thursday night.

Tyrribea Flood was drunk when she crashed a state vehicle at the intersection of Ninth and Penn avenues shortly before midnight, according to Channel 11 News reporter Lori Houy.
Source: WPXI - Liquor Control Board Officer Charged With DUI After Downtown Crash

Right. Maybe Ms. Flood was just doing work-related research. So what exactly makes the PLCB a better watchdog again?

Quote of the Day - Governor Brown of California

To the Members of the California State Senate:

I am returning Senate Bill 105 without my signature.

This measure would impose criminal penalties on a child under the age of 18 and his or her parents if the child skis or snowboards without a helmet.

While I appreciate the value of wearing a helmet, I am concerned about the continuing and seemingly inexorable transfer of authority from parents to the state. Not every human problem deserves a law.

I believe parents have the ability and responsiblity to make good choices for their children.


Edmund G. Brown Jr.
California Governor Brown, Senate Bill 105 Veto Message

Via Say Uncle

I do not think that means what you think it means ...

LTE in July 5, 2011 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Kids need to be protected from video trash

Our Supreme Court ought to be ashamed of the latest decision it made about video games ("Supreme Court Strikes Violent Video Game Restrictions," June 28).

Is it no wonder many countries are so totally against our values when it comes to TV shows and music and want to ban our influence from their citizens? I wish we could ban so much of the trash that is available for our children in this country.

It is said that we should rely on parents to examine and decide what their children should or should not view. Some parents will. But who helps and guides those children in homes where there is little apparent supervision and children are left to continue to make harmful decisions?

Yes, I understand the argument about freedom of speech and such, but historically when folks lobby long and strong enough (money talks), some considerations of freedoms fall to the wayside.

Come on, USA, how about instead of choosing to pour more and more money into the video industry, we choose what is best for our children and, for once, just once, decide on the side of our youth?

Observatory Hill

Wow. Ok, Joyce, which is it? Are we banning things or are we allowing people to choose? Or are a small group of people choosing to ban something for everyone?

I'll be the first to agree that much of the "entertainment" that is produced in this country is utter crap. It's mindless nonsense designed to remove the need for logical and rational thought. And to sell advertising. And, as much as I wish for that nonsense to not be available, I am completely and totally against having the government force that to be the case. Down that road lies only danger.

And I'm not sure where you're getting the idea that other countries are "so totally against our values when it comes to TV shows and music and want to ban our influence from their citizens" - have you seen some of the nonsense that comes out of just about every European country? Japan? The Middle East? We have no monopoly on violence, sex, or stupidity.

It's easy to ask the government to do your job for you. It's much more difficult when you actually have to be the one to say No and set a good example. Your request for the government to ban something you don't like is the kind of behavior you decry in your letter: "But who helps and guides those children in homes where there is little apparent supervision and children are left to continue to make harmful decisions?" By outsourcing your parental responsibilities to the government, you're no longer guiding the children and they're certainly not getting any lessons about how to make good decisions. All you're doing is freeing up more time to watch So You Think You Can Dancing with the American Idols Got Talent.

No thank you. As a father of two, I think I'm more capable of successfully raising my children and being a better role model for them than some faceless bureaucrat.

Quote of the Day

"Daddy, I want to go to the shooting range!"
- my almost-four-year-old son, John

Words that I've been waiting to hear and didn't really expect this soon! We've been practicing the four rules and he's start to get them down. Slowly but surely. And the 10/22 is still pretty big on him so I think I'll be shopping for a BB gun this week. But still, I'm thrilled!

Massachusetts - Stupidity Wins Again

Looks like Zero tolerance Intelligence wins again: Massachusetts Boy Charged With Bringing Toy Gun on Bus
Police say a 9-year-old elementary school student from Palmer, Mass., will be summoned to juvenile court to face charges for bringing a toy handgun on the school bus, reports.

Chief Robert Frydryk says the school district has a "zero tolerance policy" regarding weapons. Even though the gun was a toy, it is considered a weapon because it shoots soft plastic projectiles.

The boy told police he forgot he had it in his jacket when he got on the bus on May 5.

Frydryk says there is no indication the elementary school student wanted to hurt anyone. The student's name was not made public.

Superintendent Gerald Fournier says that the school took appropriate action "based on the policies and procedures we have in place," MyFoxBoston reports.
I remember when I was in elementary school and brought a NERF gun to school for show and tell. All the teacher did was ask me not to shoot it in school. No cops were called, no media were alerted, and certainly no charges were filed.

Privatizing the PLCB - Screw the Benjamins, It's all about the principles, baby

In Tuesday's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Opinion section we find a Letter to the Editor: Liquor price impact
Liquor price impact

Regarding "Defending a Dinosaur: Neither CDC Nor LCB Should Halt Privatization" (April 18 editorial):

Many years ago a dynamic family member shared with me an interesting business fact. That person was employed as a consultant and drew assignments in places as far away as South America, worked in a presidential administration and was working for an international distillery when these thoughts were shared with me. I was told that the distillery's largest customer was the state of Pennsylvania. If that was true then, I imagine it is still true today.

By association, that fact should be true with all those providing products to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. One would think that fact would have an impact on the price paid for the products for sale in Pennsylvania. That being said, how can fragmented privatized operators get better deals on the front end of this business deal? This issue never seems to be mentioned in any discussions on privatization.

If the LCB is not getting a good deal on the products it sells, it should be scuttled. However, if the LCB does get the best deal, good business acumen should follow that the taxes applied to the privatized operators would need to be astronomical to realize the same overall benefits to the consumers and the taxpayers of Pennsylvania.

Will privatization lead to low consumer prices? If not, who do you think is going to absorb the greatest impact of privatization? You got it: the consumers and the taxpayers.

As for modernizing this Depression-era dinosaur, are there legislative restraints preventing the LCB from modernizing? If so, you should be railing against those obstacles instead of beating the victim, the LCB. Business-wise, what you are saying does not seem to be grounded in reality.

I can understand Oliver's point. I don't agree with it, but I understand it. Whether he's right or not, however, is immaterial to the situation. While I have a strong feeling that privatization will result in better selection, better hours, cheaper prices, and little negative impact on the state budget, my strong support of privatizing the PLCB is not based on the costs or savings for consumers, taxpayers, or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Those are just side effects of privatization.

I ultimately support privatization for one reason alone: I do not think the government should be involved in a state-run monopoly in the liquor business. That's it. I want the government out of the liquor business. Let them regulate it (though I probably don't agree with the amount of regulation, we can debate that later) but get them out of the sales business and have them stop prohibiting private citizens and companies from engaging in regular commerce.

Arvada PD Gone Wild

Way to go Arvada PD!
ARVADA, Colo. -- Arvada Police are defending the way they handled the arrest of an 11-year-old boy. The Arvada boy was arrested and hauled away in handcuffs from his home for drawing stick figures in school - something his therapist told him to do.
They say "Tim" is being treated for Attention Deficit Disorder and his therapist told him to draw pictures when he got upset, rather than disrupt the class. So that’s what he did.

Last October, he drew stick figures of himself with a gun, pointed at four other stick figures with the words "teachers must die."
The school was aware that the boy was in treatment, determined he was not a threat, notified his parents and sent him back to class. His mother, "Jane" was shocked when Arvada Police showed up at their home later that night.
They put him in a cell, took his mug shot and fingerprinted him. He says he thought he was going to jail and would never be able to go home again.
He's charged with a third degree misdemeanor, interfering with staff and students at an educational facility. The system says it's doing what's in the best interest of the child. But Tim's therapist says handcuffing an 11-year-old and putting him in a cell over something like this is "quite an overreaction" and does much more harm than good.
Source: Arvada Police defend arrest of 11-year-old over drawing
(h/t to the Geek Warrior)

According to the video of the news report, not only did they arrest the kid at his home, they tossed him in a holding cell, wouldn't give him dinner, and then shipped him via ambulance to a mental health hospital where he was evaluated for THREE DAYS before the shrinks admitted he posed no threat.

Now, some people (including one of the commenters on the KDVR facebook page) my make the argument that "if they hadn't arrested the kid and he had come back and shot the teachers, we'd be blaming the cops instead." Well, some may do that, but not me. I'd be blaming the parents first and the school second - the people who actually knew the kid and had determined he wasn't a threat.

Unfortunately, we now have a kid who was already seeing a therapist who will probably have even more distrust of authority in general and cops specifically. And, even better, he probably won't trust his therapists anymore considering that he was arrested for following their instructions.

More Like Zero Intelligence

Another "Zero Tolerance" occurrence. Just as stupid as all the others.

Lunchbox mix-up leads to charges for Sanford teen
Ashley Smithwick, 17, of Sanford, was suspended from Southern Lee High School in October after school personnel found a small paring knife in her lunchbox.
The lunchbox really belonged to Joe Smithwick [her father], who packs a paring knife to slice his apple. He and his daughter have matching lunchboxes.
This month, Ashley Smithwick, a soccer player who takes college-level courses, was charged with misdemeanor possession of a weapon on school grounds. She is no longer allowed to set foot on campus.
"When the principals conduct their investigations, what typically is fleshed out is the true intent," [Lee County Superintendent Jeff Moss] told the newspaper. "Bottom line is we want to ensure every child feels safe on our campus."

Ashley Smithwick is completing her coursework online through Central Carolina Community College. She said she worries the case will affect her college prospects.

"When you have a criminal record no school's going to look at you," she said. "I have a pretty nice talent. I'm good at playing soccer and that talent is just wasted now."

Jeff Moss, you are an absolute moron. Imbecile isn't too harsh. Do you honestly think kids will feel safe if they can get in trouble for something like this? Grabbing the wrong lunchbox and having a pairing knife inside?