Laws, Ordinances & Regulations

Canadian Libertarian Leader on Mandates

Tim Moen, from up near Edmonton, has led the Canadian Libertarian party for the past 7 years.  His views regarding the unacceptability of pandemic mandates are available at  He doesn’t write like the late L. Neil Smith – and the article I’ve linked to is definitely beyond Biden. 

Moen starts with details on the non-aggression principle – while he describes it as completely as Smith did, it’s a bit harder read:

Libertarians hold that the only morally legitimate use of force is in response to the initiation of force against a person or their property. So when we are determining whether the use of force is ethical (or legal in a libertarian order) we need to know whether the force was initiatory or defensive (in response to initiatory force).”

He adds

The argument being made by radical centrists (ie most politicians and establishment bureaucrats) is that all sorts of force must be used during a pandemic in the name of protecting people or decreasing pandemic spread or death. Libertarians do not judge government force (policy) based on whether it had the desired outcome, we judge it based on whether that force is moral or immoral, defensive or initiatory.”

Moen offers thoughts on essential and non-essential workers:

During the covid pandemic the government divided people into two classes; essential workers and non-essential workers. Ironically the language “essential worker” used to be used by government to force striking employees to go to work and now its being used to force people to not work. If you disobey government orders and open your “non-essential” comic book store, restaurant, or movie theatre you’d get some warnings and eventually men with guns would come and use force to shut you down. Is this force justified?

A business owner is not initiating force against anyone by opening his store and serving customers. The customers are not initiating force against anyone by patronizing that store. So any force used against these peaceful people engaged in consenting activity ought to be considered criminal. It is not defensive force because it is not responding to any initiation of force. On the other hand if a person in that store is covid positive then they are initiating force against others assuming that their exhaled air containing harmful contagious pathogens is being inhaled by those around them. Force would be justified against the force initiator but not the innocent individuals.”

It isn’t an easy read – but he does make his points and reasoning clear – which is a lot different than most of the political rhetoric we read.

A Science for Everyone

The Quality of Data

We live in a world filled with data – but a lot of the presentations are slanted.  Sometimes the slant is political, sometimes the slant is a bizarre sense of humor.  I like Wikipedia – but I don’t rely on it.  I tapped in to look for a bio on George Washington Carver, and I read the damndest story about carving peanuts into busts of our first president.  If I want satire, I’ll go to the Onion or the Babylon Bee.  Wiki is accessible, fast, and I’ll continue to use it – but I check wiki data against other sources.  Using Wiki as a reliable source of data is similar to accepting President Biden as a fact-checker.

If I want information on shootings and murders in Chicago, I start with  It’s reliable, but not respectable.  They even sell T-shirts.  I’d never use it in a professional article – but whoever puts the data together does a pretty good job.  For example, as I write this, heyjackass shows

Year to Date

Shot & Killed: 586

Shot & Wounded: 2843

Total Shot: 3429

Total Homicides: 619

It’s a fast source of data that usually checks out. It even goes into neighborhoods, cause of death, race and gender – well, I’d say race and sex, since it lists male and female, but I may be a bit old fashioned.  It would be nice if all the violent cities had their own heyjackass, but this one seems unique to Chicago.

Climate data – at least the sort of data that shares first and last frosts, annual precipitation, and other medians gleaned from past records – is much more available.  For years, while some stuck with the Farmers Almanac, we carried with us Climate and Man – a 1941 yearbook of Agriculture that had compilations for most of the US.  Now, I can get online to check snow depth at each snow course, NOAA offers answers to all sorts of questions.  Climate data is vastly improved – though you still need to weed through and select reliable sources.  Personally, I stick with USDA and NOAA.

It is hard to find quality data on illegal immigrants and crime.  Texas’ Department of Public Safety provides data on crimes and convictions in Texas, but other states don’t provide data of similar quality.  I’m not sure we can generalize from Texas – but better data is hard to find.

The quality of data on abortion is impressive – each state provides data in a similar form.  You can sort between states and years – there’s a requirement that data be kept and published.  Unlike crime and illegal immigrants, this data is easy to access and use.

This publication presents itself as quality data: “30 Facts You Need to Know”.

Unfortunately, the folks who put it together didn’t include the links to those 30 facts that make them easy to confirm or reject.  I really don’t know which of the “30 Facts” I should accept and which ones should be rejected.

There is a lot more data available than there was in my younger days.  But a lot of that data is still less than easily confirmed – and a lot of folks are still trying to pass opinion off as fact.


Journalists Who Don’t Ride Horses

I looked at photos of a mounted border troll whipping a fleeing Haitian immigrant – or at least that’s what the message said.  The description matched an Orc, right out of Mordor.

The agent swung his whip menacingly, charging his horse toward the men in the river who were trying to return to an encampment under the international bridge in Del Rio after buying food and water in Ciudad Acuña, Mexico.”

The picture I saw showed reins as the border patrol officer had grabbed the Haitian by the back of his shirt.  Now I’m along the northern border, so I suspect a journalist from El Paso has more scenes to pick from . . . and the border patrol may be lashing Haitians with whips – but the horrifying picture I saw showed reins held short, one end flying free, and a hand grabbing a shirt.  I saw no sign of a third arm wielding a whip.  One hand for the reins, one hand on the Haitian.    My interpretation is that the journalist hasn’t spent much time in the saddle. 

So it got me wondering – how many Americans have ridden horses, and how many have never been on a horse?  The CDC says that 30 million Americans ride a horse each year.  That’s one out of eleven.  On the other hand, it’s been quite a while since I sat in the saddle – so the CDC only offers a partial answer.

I found a Horse Industry (2017) estimate of 9.2 million horses in the US – one horse for every 35 people.  The numbers are suggesting that there are a lot of folks who have never ridden – but the number still eludes me.  The (1941) cavalry horse manual says that a horse shouldn’t carry more than 20% of its own weight.  Now that limits a lot of heavy people – but it still doesn’t answer my question.

So I’m not necessarily correct when I hazard a guess that the typical journalist hasn’t ridden – but I think it’s the way to bet. 

A Science for Everyone

Quasi-Experimental Research and Old Ammo

Ammoland has an article that shows what we term “quasi-experimental” research at

As a sociologist – studying people in groups – using experimental methodology has some ethical drawbacks.  So we’re probably more likely than most to look for situations that allow some of the inferences we can make without well designed, well controlled experiments.

This study isn’t sociology – it’s about how well 22 ammunition that has been stored for 65 years will work. Quasi-experimental research depends on serendipity – in this case, the research isn’t on 25-year-old ammunition or 50-year-old ammunition, like it might be in a designed experiment.  It’s on 65-year-old ammunition because that was the oldest stash left when a competitive shooter died. 

“Over 20 thousand rounds of the cache was Remington standard velocity ammunition obtained in or prior to 1956, transferred to quart jars from boxes by 1956. It was stored for 15-17 years in an attic in Madison, Wisconsin, then underground from 1970-72 to 2018 in a basement in Middleton, Wisconsin. After the ammunition was purchased from the estate, it was moved across the country, then stored in a secure underground location.”

Quasi-experimental – most 22 ammunition isn’t transferred to quart jars and sealed, but attic and basement storage is normal.  I’m not certain what qualifies as a secure underground location (it brings to mind finding a blasting cap box in the old root cellar – Dad quickly relieved us of that treasure).

The article is worth reading – the author documents reliability and group size – 2 relevant measurements.  If I were doing the research, I’d probably include some new Remington standard velocity as a control.  He used CCI – and it was likely as good a control as Remington subsonic would be . . . 65 years has probably seen as great a changes within Remington’s factory as between Reminton and CCI.

His results: “Velocity measurements for 50 rounds, average velocity, Standard Deviation, extreme spread in feet per second (fps).

  • CCI Standard Velocity:   Average 1072.3 fps, SD 17.5, extreme spread 84 fps, 1035 to 1119.
  • Old Remington Standard Velocity: Average 1098.9 fps, SD 19.8, Extreme spread 101 fps, 1041 to 1142.”

Weingarten describes how he intends to continue the test until 2056 or later.  For right now, his results suggest that I might have been better off to store my ammunition in canning jars- but it should still be reliable when Sam inherits it.  I’d really encourage reading the article – the experimental method isn’t confined to university campuses.


Mushrooms abound!

It’s been a good couple weeks for mushrooms here – puffballs, many ready to be made into mushroom steaks, some already releasing spores, seeding future years’ mushrooms.

A “Giant Puffball” that was a wee bit small to turn into steaks –
left another week, it has ruptured, releasing tiny gray-brown spores.
Tap a mature puffball, and it’ll send up a cloud of spores. Hence the name.

And shaggy manes, good for eating fresh, or letting sit and turn into “mushroom ink”. The first time this happened to some shaggy manes we’d collected, I was devastated. Turns out that shaggy manes left sit for a half-week turn into a black inky sludge. It’s still good to cook with, and can make a pleasant sauce. While I might prefer fresh firm shaggies chopped up and sauteed in bacon grease… I do intend to improve my grasp of shaggy ink. After all – it’s a great way to store them, and doesn’t mind the freezer.

A rather small Shaggy Mane.
Note the dark spores on my palm – see how the gills take on a darker color at the fringes?
Mature shaggy mane spores turn black.

If you haven’t done so recently, go take a hike through some Forest Service land – it’s a good time to be sampling the local fungi. I’ve spotted oysters and chanterelles as well as puffballs. Just take care that those you bring home are safe as food. There’s a number I’ve not yet managed to identify.

As the saying goes, all mushrooms are edible… some only once.
Be responsible in your mushroom ID, and see to it that you can have leftovers tomorrow.

Community, Wildlife

A Reminder of My Best Week of Work

I let the little dogs out and heard an elk bugling in the distance.  At first I thought “This is too early.” but as the sound continued, my mind went back over 30 years, to the finest week of work I have ever enjoyed.

It was in the late 80’s, and I was working for Cadastral – and the task was to relocate and mark the survey monuments on the mining claims in the ten lakes basin. It was a simple job, with notes from 75 years before (or more) copied, ready to be retraced with a hand-held compass – mining claims are small, a bit over 20 acres, and you don’t need super-precise equipment to find the old corners.

It was a fine September – much like this one – in a place where I will not return.  One monument was a post, just over the divide, overlooking the Tobacco Plains and Koocanusa.  The location was carved, scribed onto the post, and I restacked the rocks around it . . . rocks my predecessor had left stacked that had been moved during 80 seasons of snow, wind and ice.  The next guy may have to replace the post – I was happy just to put things as they were originally.

Along one of the trails, I found the hole chiseled into rock that marked the corner – filled with needles and dust from the preceding 80 years.  I painted the rock around the hole with red paint, then moved to a nearby rock face and established a point, a distance and bearing that will let the man or woman who follows a half-century from now find the point easier.  For now, hikers walk by the corner and the notes on the rock face undisturbed and uncaring.  Someday, another surveyor will find the points and think, as I did, “Those old guys did good work.”

The challenges of making coffee and oatmeal with a small morning fire, with only the light pot and bowl that fit in the backpack.  It isn’t a place or task that I shall return to – the feet don’t allow it anymore.  But I was there, hearing the elk bugle as I worked that week, enjoying the coffee, blessing the ease that instant oatmeal made in cooking breakfast.  The memories are enough – and I appreciate the bull elk’s bugling to bring them back in detail.


A Good Week Outdoors

I haven’t seen a muskrat since Spring – I thought that the low water last Winter had wiped them out.  But the other evening, I watched one lone muskrat swimming across the pond.  Each year young adult muskrats take off overland looking for an open niche, and it looks like at least one has moved in.

The ducks are all migratory now – panicking at our approach.  We did have a pair of geese visiting – at least one must have been a gosling from last year – I could walk around without them showing any reaction.  A horde of crows showed up, harvesting grasshoppers.  Meanwhile the turkeys have been working the field, and I was able to watch them move the younger ones into the trees as a bald eagle would fly over the flock at perhaps 5 feet above ground level hoping for an easy meal..  It reminded me of Alexander Ross’ story – p.106 of The Fur Hunters of The Far West –  “On reaching a small open plain, we perceived at some little distance off two large birds in the act of fighting, much in the same way as our domestic fowl.  We made a halt, and I approached them till within gunshot unperceived and kept watching their motions for some time, at last I showed myself when one of the birds tried to fly off; but was scarcely able to keep itself up and soon lighted again.  I still approached when the bird tried to get up again; but in the act of rising I fired and brought it to the ground; the other never stirred from its place.  In taking up the bird I had shot, it proved to be a white-headed eagle.  I then went to the other, and found it was a wild turkey cock, or what we call a Columbia grouse.  A bold and noble bird,  The grouse was almost blind.  During the combat the eagle had almost torn out its eyes, yet it disdained to yield and might have ultimately come off the conqueror for the eagle was very much exhausted and nearly blind of an eye.  The fight had been long and well contested, for the grass all round the spot for some twenty yards was beaten to the ground and their feathers strewed about by their fierce and bloody struggles.  The grouse weighed 11 ¼ lbs., the eagle only 8 ¾ lbs.  We carried both birds along with us.”  Ross probably gave me the best measured comparison between a small adult bald eagle and a wild turkey gobbler that I’m going to get.

The final sight was a bear cub intimidated by the 2 Pomeranians – I was picking up wood that I had left the year before, so the pickup was there but no chainsaw running.  I had the 2 little dogs in the cab, and they erupted with Pomeranian threats – frightening a small black bear.  I don’t believe that I’m so antiquated that I need two Poms to protect me from a small bear cub, but they were definitely proud of their accomplishment. 

It is Autumn, green again, and things are moving.


Itching Feet and Recovey

My right foot went through two days of itching.  The last time I felt itchy feet was 2009 – before the heavy metals of chemotherapy knocked out my nerves.  I think this is the story that Rick Holm wanted me to write – the experience of recovery from cancer and the treatments that beat it.  Rick Holm, MD didn’t beat his cancer – but he wanted me to write on the topic.  Frankly, it’s a hard topic – largely because of the people I’ve met who can’t write on the topic of recovery.

The cancer wasn’t so hard as the treatments to beat it.  Basically, to knock the cancer out, you need to walk a fine line – chemicals and radiation that will kill a cancerous tumor are still rough on the healthy cells.  Even on the healthy mind – there’s a term “chemo-fog” for describing your mental processes as you go through treatment.  Along with that came nerves knocked out of commission – chemo-induced neuropathy.  By the end of the chemo infusions, my legs were numb past the knees.  I could still pet a cat or dog – but I had to do it visually.  I couldn’t respond to the moves that said “now scratch here, human.”  Fortunately dogs are tolerant – even poor quality petting is appreciated by canines.  Cats, not so much.

The docs explained that the neuropathy was worst at the extremities – hands and feet.  At the time I was teaching, and realized soon that it took conscious effort not to drool – we notice neuropathy more in the toes and fingers, but it also affects the lips and facial muscles.  Sufficient to say, chemo-induced neuropathy does heal – it just heals slowly.  For years, the message of healing nerves has been jolts of pain – waking up to the experience of a non-existent chipmunk biting my toes.  This past week, the nerves returned with a two-day sensation of itchy feet.

Today, I redid a repair on the tractor – when I first replaced the starter switch on the Kubota, it was a cold day, and with numb hands I didn’t get things done right in a long day’s project.  A couple of wires had broken eight years later, and I had to hotwire things to get out of the woods.  This time, with more recovery from the neuropathy, it was a half-hour job.  Still one spot I had to do twice because of the numbness, but with the ability to feel the wires, instead of having to see them, the task went quickly and well.

Life is good.  Tennyson covered the chemo experience when he wrote “Though much is taken, much abides”.  The phrase covers recovery as well as aging.


Stolen Joke

I ran across this tale on Ace of Spades – it was labeled The Saturday Night Joke, and I suspect Ace is worth checking every Saturday night:

 It’s an unusual time we’re living in.

I took down my Rebel flag (which you can’t buy on EBAY anymore) and peeled the NRA sticker off my rear window.

I disconnected my home alarm system and quit the candy-ass Neighborhood Watch.

I bought two Pakistani flags and put one at each corner of the front yard.

Then I purchased the black flag of ISIS (which you CAN buy on EBAY) and ran it up the flagpole.

Now the local police, sheriff, FBI, CIA, NSA, Homeland Security, Secret Service and other agencies are all watching my house 24/7.

I’ve NEVER felt safer and I’m saving $69.95 a month that ADT used to charge me.

Plus, I bought burkas for me to wear when I shop or travel. Everyone moves out of the way and security can’t pat me down.

If they say I’m a male wearing a burka, I just say I’m feeling like a woman today.

Hot Damn… Safe at last.

There are a lot of things spoken in jest.  I’ve never wanted a Confederate battle flag – my closest connection is a great-grandfather who was drafted by North Carolina in 1863.  He had just turned 18 and been married 5 days.  Still, I think his nation was just as fouled up.  For years, I’ve regarded an NRA window sticker as an invitation to get the car keyed – probably not so much here, but I parked on a college campus.  His home in the hills of North Carolina was an area known for pro-Union sentiments.  I doubt if he had any love for Abe Lincoln or Jefferson Davis.  Kind of matches my feeling for our elections, where I hold my nose and vote for the lesser evil . . . and the lesser evil by definition is still evil.  Perhaps the best way to deal with things is to laugh.


I Believe in Scientific Method

I note the frequent comments of “believe in the science” or “the scientific facts.”  The really great ones show validity with “most scientists believe . . .”  as if consensus had an influence on causality.  For much of my life I’ve made a living based around science in it’s several forms- sometimes research, sometimes applications, sometimes looking to support or falsify conclusions. 

Scientific method is the basis – after we have followed the method, causality is inferred, not proven.  All conclusions are tentative and subject to further questions and research.  Scientific method is simple.  Step one is making an observation.  Step two is asking the question.  Step three is developing a hypothesis – a potential answer to the question that can be tested, and move to step four – testing the hypothesis.   After that comes the inference – did the test support the hypothesis, or should it be rejected. 

I believe in the methodology of science – but I don’t always believe in my colleagues’ conclusions.  I remember a great paper that dealt with soil compaction – everything fit, but the researcher had assumed that tractor tire pressure was the same as the pressure of the tire on the ground.  I didn’t spot the problem because I was formally trained to a high level on the topic – I spotted it because I had fixed a lot of tires.  I may miss something in my own assumptions – causality is always inferred, and all conclusions are tentative.

Back to the methodology – and it applies to firewood just as well as chemistry or demography.  First, the observation – it appears that some species produce more heat than other species.  Then the research question . . . which species of tree produces the most heat when burned.  Researching the literature can be simple – asking your neighbor which tree produces the most heat, accepting the old-timer’s answer of buckskin tamarack or researching university studies, finding Western Larch produces 28.7 million Btu’s per cord and weighs 3,321 pounds per cord dry.  Now that weight factor might get you wondering about the guy who delivers a full cord of larch in a single trip with a half-ton pickup . . . but that isn’t the research question.  The chart shows that Douglas fir is 26.5 million Btu’s and a cord weighs 3,075 pounds – perhaps the amount of heat produced is a variant on the weight or density of the wood?  And what sort of springs does that guy have on that old half-ton pickup?

So we develop the hypothesis – perhaps it contrasts western larch with spruce – then we test it.  It’s not enough to predict a difference – we need to predict a direction . . . that western larch will produce more heat than spruce seems likely, and measurable with the materials at hand (a cabin, a thermometer, and a wood stove would be enough to give me measurable data). 

Now if the hypothesis is just that there will be a difference, it’s not a good hypothesis.  That’s why I prefer global warming to climate change – the difference is right there in the title.  We can accept the researchers’ tables – based on faith in the university’s Extension specialists quality work – but scientific method doesn’t stop us from researching the same topic again.  I kind of like that approach – religion is faith-based, but the harsh reality is that science is based on doubt – lets do the experiment, evaluate our measured data, and figure things out from there,

Science is one way of looking at the world.  It makes a virtue of scepticism.  Religion is another way of looking at the world, through faith and revelation.