I'm trying to find a way to stay engaged in the political process this year, even though I think all the major candidates are complete shit.
So I took a quiz, and it says that I'm 81% in line with Ted Cruz.
Cruz doesn't believe in marriage equality, or in the separation of church and state, which are both very important to me. He's also in favor of de-funding Planned Parenthood, which I see as an unnecessary political stunt that would be harmful to literally millions of people.
But he is a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment and a strong opponent of Obamacare, both of which are right up my alley (meaning that I agree with him on those points).
So, I agree with him on some things, and I disagree with him on others. What the quiz can't tell, though, is that Cruz is an evangelical Christian. Now, on the face of it, I wouldn't have a problem with the president being a Christian (technically, all US presidents so far have been Christians). But an evangelical? That's a whole different stripe. When Cruz speaks, I can tell he was raised in a fundamentalist church kind of atmosphere, and he learned his public speaking there. But there's a closed-mindedness going on there, which I'm pretty sure comes from the same place. I've seen that fundamentalist Christian closed-mindedness completely destroy whole families, creating a powerful inability think independently - something they used to call "brainwashing" back during the cold war, when we were told it's what the Russians would do to us.
So, what to do? Vote for the evangelical? Jeez. I mean, what a horrible choice!
Now, I know what you're thinking. This pic is of a 9mm, not a .40S&W. It's just a stock photo I stole from some random-ass website. My Hummmy got me this for Christmas (I'm not a Christmas kind of guy, but I am a new gun kind of guy, so I'm good with it). I haven't taken it out to the range yet, but I'm taking a handgun training course with it in about a week, so I'll let you know how it performs.
So far, my favorite things about this gun are the white dot sights, its light weight and concealability. It's literally less than an inch wide across the grip, due to being a single-stacker, whether you get the .40 or the 9mm.
I'm not sure yet what I'm going to do with this, other than make it my daily carry.
My front sight post is a bitch.
There was a time when all I had to do was poke the sharp end of a bullet into the little detent, and the post would spin like a top. Well, it would at least turn.
But my Bushmaster? Fuck no. I guess that's what I get for buying a $900 AR. I used every manner of tool I could find, and after about two hours of begging and cajoling, I got one click out of it.
All this happened because I finally got to take my several-months-old AR to the range. I wanted to see how accurate this Magpul pop-up rear sight was, when paired with the factory A-frame front sight.
Bear in mind that I am pretty friggin' blind, and I prefer to shoot without correcting my vision. I was wearing eye protection, but not my eyeglasses. Still, though, a fairly high-visibility target at only 100 meters meant that it was pretty easy to get a good sight picture every time. I just couldn't see where I was hitting.
I loaded up two magazines and shot the first two, then looked through the spotter scope. To my abject horror, I found about 50 little holes all along the top edge of the paper target; not a single round had flown through the 4-inch-wide orange bullseye. What that means is, at a range of 100 meters, my AR is shooting about 6 inches high and slightly to the right. Whiskey Tango Motherfucking Foxtrot.
Now, Lotty Dotty Everybody knows how to lower a shot group with these factory front sights: Front sight post goes counter-clockwise. Depress the detent and turn. Only, mine ain't turnin.
So I did what any red-blooded American veteran would do: I fired that third magazine, while aiming low and a little left, and put all 29 through the bull. Not a terribly impressive feat of superhuman marksmanship, I admit, but it had to be done.
When I got home and finished this round of football-watchin and AR-cleanin, I decided to adjust that sight post, and I still couldn't get it to budge, much. One notch, overall. I was just about ready to whack it with a hammer by the time all was said and done.
So, here's the plan: If I can find either a stable, secure-mounting gas block with rail to replace that A-frame front sight assembly with, that would be Option A. Option B would be to replace the whole upper to get rid of the sight assembly. Obviously not an ideal solution, but an effective one. Option C would be to simply replace the iron sights altogether, with some manner of optic. Again, effective, but less than ideal due to cost considerations.
Smith & Wesson M&P in .40 S&W (full-size Police trade-in)
This one is still on the drawing board, but Bud's Guns dot com has a cool selection of full-size M&P's in .40, that are police trade-ins. What happens is, every so often, Law Enforcement agencies have to swap out their old weapons for new ones, and the old ones end up on sale for something like 20% less than a new firearm. The coolest thing is that these guns are usually modified in some way. The M&P I have my eye on at Bud's Guns comes with night sights installed, and three magazines in the box, and still costs waaay less than a new M&P.
I'll keep the Interwebs posted on my progress as soon as I have any.
I start my New Year’s Resolutions in February.
Every few years, I go through a kind of reorganization. I’ve tried before, as part of a past such reorg, to consolidate all my blogs into Tengu House.
Right now it doesn’t make sense to have five separate blogs operating at once. For one thing, with five blogs, it’s a pain to post at all. Another is that when I do post, all the posts in a given blog are homogenous and thematic. I think part of my 2016 reorg should be to re-consolidate my blogs into one (Tengu House), and then use tags or hashtags or whatever else to differentiate subject matter.
So over the next few months, Tengu House will move further to the fore of my writing effort, and more posts – new and old – will appear. And these new posts will be less about Buddhism and more about the diverse aspects of my happy little experience.
Everyone’s life is a diverse hodgepodge of interesting – and not-so-interesting – topics. My interests include Buddhism, new atheism, libertarian politics, prepping and backwoods skills, various military-themed topics, guns and ammo, history of all kinds, virtually all martial arts, hiking and biking, languages and linguistic development, counter-terrorism and international infrastructure support, overseas security and military contracting. And that’s not even getting into music, modeling, foosball or my sports obsessions. So there will be lots to write about, once it’s set up properly so that it’s convenient to write and post.
I’m looking forward to being able to post about handguns and bass guitars in the same blog. With any luck, that will encourage me to write more in the first place. My goal for 2016 is 200 to 250 posts.
So Houston went to the polls yesterday and overwhelmingly voted down the HERO act, which would have offered legal protection against discrimination on the basis of race, ethnic status, gender identity, military affiliation, and I think some other classes.
What happened here is that many area churches became political activists, which is never good. When people whose whole raison-t'etre is a falsehood are allowed to steer the political will, that's when you know your voting populace is a bunch of intellectually-hogtied morons who shouldn't be allowed to vote in the first place.
At issue, according to the churches, was whether or not men ("troubled men claiming to be women," they said in their ads) should be allowed into women's public restrooms. For the last three months, that's all I've heard in this town. Perverts were going to be allowed into little girls' bathrooms to do all manner of unspeakable things to our daughters. Obviously, this had to be defeated at the ballot box, right? After all, it was proposed by our lesbian mayor, right?
Okay, I have a few issues here.
First of all, there's the "lesbian mayor" thing. For six years now, all I've heard about Mayor Anise Parker is that she's a lesbian. That's all the Right in this town needs to know to oppose her. She hasn't been our mayor, she's been "our lesbian mayor."
Second, the bill actually had NOTHING TO DO with public bathrooms or who can go in them, and nothing to do with "troubled men claiming to be women." True, it would have required that reasonable accommodations be made for transgender people, but that's not the same as simply "troubled" anyone. By the way, Houston (and the rest of the Bible Belt): The rest of the world accepted LGBT folks as normal decades ago. It's time you stopped calling them "troubled" and caught up with the Human Race. This was a good opportunity to take the next exit out of homophobia-land. Just sayin.....
Third, there are already laws about perving on women in public restrooms (and everywhere else). These laws protect little girls, in public and private restrooms, from acts committed by anyone, "troubled" or not. HERO wouldn't have changed any of that.
Now, here's where it gets crazy. HERO was law in Houston in 2014, and was repealed in order to put it to a vote, so that the area churches could get a chance to oppose it, because to do otherwise was a violation of their religious freedom and constituted a war on Christianity, which would have made our lesbian mayor an ISIS operative (I'm not kidding, that's what the pastors around here were saying on the radio every morning). Because the pastors were using their Sunday pulpits to broadcast political messages, the city government subpoenaed the text of their sermons to see if there was sufficient grounds to begin looking into their tax-exempt status. Naturally, this became a big, hairy court battle between God and our lesbian mayor, who obviously only wanted to destroy religious liberties and shut up the Bible, like ISIS (again, this was actually said). The churches eventually won, causing an embarrassing retraction from the ISIS-loving lesbian mayor, and all-but-official recognition of God's right to spread not only religious fairy tales, but Republican Party dogma as well, from his holy tax-free pulpit.
During the time when the law was in effect, not one single case of "troubled men" perving on little girls in public restrooms was recorded in Houston. Not one. Also, this hasn't been an issue in any of the other cities in the US where similar laws are in effect right now. Here in Texas, the reddest of all states, this stuff is the law of the land in Dallas, San Antonio, and Austin (and El Paso? I can't remember), and bathroom perving has increased exactly zero percent. For those of you who went to public school in Houston, zero percent means none at all. It didn't increase, because it isn't happening. You've been fed a barrel of bullshit, and you ate it right up. Yummy.
Meanwhile, in Houston, it's LEGAL for an employer to walk up to you and say that he doesn't like you because you served in the military. You're fired, asshole. Or because you're gay. You're fired, you flaming asshole. Or because your wife is a Mexican. You flaming asshole with a flaming asshole (okay I don't know about that last part, I just wanted to say "flaming asshole" again). Sure, you could make a federal discrimination case out of it, if you have ten thousand dollars and two years to spend on it. But if you're like me, you'd have to sell your sexy ass on the street corner to come up with that kind of money - and my sexy ass just doesn't have that kind of work ethic.
Okay, no more ass jokes, I promise.
See, I have lifelong friends who ask me why I hate Christianity. Why can't I just respect people's beliefs? they ask. Well, I wouldn't say I hate it, but I do distrust it, and here's why. Where I live, Christians, led by their pastors illegally using their churches for political speech, have shot down an ordinance what would have protected military veterans and their families from discrimination - which is a real thing - in order to protect us from "troubled men" perving on little girls in public bathrooms - which isn't a real thing, and never was (and wasn't even in the bill). Once again, Christians have seen to it that made-up bullshit trumps known reality. Just because you can imagine it doesn't make it real, and real people will now have to pay for your bullshit.
All my life, I've heard about discrimination. Against race, age, gender, LGBT stuff, you name it. Well, here was your chance to do something about it, and you failed. You failed because you were scared of the Christian boogeyman. Congratulations.
Evidently, the only people who are "reading" this blog are bots who post comments about handbags & shit. Let me know if there are any humans out there who give a shit about this blog. Leave a comment.
Otherwise, this blog is going away. Just not worth dealing with Typepad's inability to effectively filter out the spam.
A zendo with which I'm vaguely familiar posted this on Facebook:
They said something like, "Don't you recognize it? It's Uncle Sam as Yama (or whatever, I'm not sure if I remember that correctly or not), the God of Death." They included a bunch of links to websites and books describing the death diety and drawing parallels between death and modern American blah blah blah. "Tanks are hate, money is greed," they said, "and TV is ignorance".
No, I don't recognize it. I'm not an adherent to Tibetan Buddhism with all its dieties and whatnot. I've practiced zen and mahayana (Chinese/Taiwanese, specifically) for some time. I sat for a short time with my local Shambhala group, but they were too...what's the word....hippy-ish? for me.
This mandala, though, is a perfect example of why I seldom self-identify as a Buddhist anymore. People who liken the symbols of my country to gods of death and connect the simple existence of money to greed aren't the kind of people I want to be associated with. If I tell my co-workers that I'm a Buddhist, it's this kind of wierd nonsense that their minds go to, thus associating me with it.
I believe completely in the teachings of the Buddha. This is because, for me at least, it's not a matter of belief. Take karma, for example. You may think it sounds crazy, but I've seen it in action way too many times to believe otherwise. You have too, for that matter. Or impermanence! How could anyone not "believe" in that?
But American Buddhism has become (always was I guess) something I don't think the Buddha intended. I doubt he wanted his teachings to be corrupted into what they've become in our place and time. In Asia (although maybe not in Tibet, I don't know), Buddhism isn't solely the domain of anti-American hippies who use it to espouse self-loathing political philosophies from 1969. It attracts people from all walks of life, and one doesn't have to confuse tanks with hate to fit in.
The typical American-Buddhist response to these criticisms is such confusing mumbo-jumbo that I wouldn't even attempt to address it. "We are what we aren't" and all that.
"Good luck in your future endeavors," I told this zendo online. "I hope you find whatever it is that you're looking for."
To me, photo albums always existed. When I was little, my family had tons of photo albums. They were covered in brightly colored plastic or vinyl, with sticky cardboard pages to which my aunts and uncles affixedscalloped-edged black-and-white photos of my mother, tall and thin in her polyester pantsuit, “blonde” beehive and pointy, horn-rimmed glasses.
I remember when Polaroid’s instant photography was new
technology, and the pictures the old folks imprisoned in the albums gradually shifted to color ones. Some of the pictures of me, taken during the first few years of my life, were in color, but most weren’t. By my fifth birthday, color had pretty much taken over.
I still have them, boxes full of old photo albums, their pages filled with old photos of my grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, cousins and other various people.
I wonder if this is what it’s like for those born today, like my grandson, whose name, picture and vital stats were on Facebook within minutes of his birth. He may never own a photo album, but for him, Facebook will have always been there. It may be obsolete by his tenth birthday, or it
may be completely different by then, but this (or something like it) will always be how he remembers the earliest years of his life. Maybe as technology progresses, he’ll need an older computer to continue to access these old pictures, like the yellowed pages of my photo album, with which I’m reverting to obsolete technology to view old photos.
The day of the photo album has come and gone, just like whatever preceded them. When my grandchildren are my age, what will they look back at in the same way? How will they look upon the ‘tech’ of prior generations?
And how will that passage, that impermanence, affect them? The Buddha taught that all things are impermanent and devoid of any permanent, independent self. Facebook and its successors will fall away, just as the photo album has. The mistake isn't in using any of these media; the mistake is in deluding ourselves into believing that they'll be here forever.