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AR-15 Ban is Unconstitutional- A Legal Decision we can Understand

June 7, 2021

In a 94 page decision, Judge Roger T. Benitez said California’s ban on AR-style rifles is unconstitutional. Read the judge’s decision yourself since he wrote in language that even a journalist can understand. At best I can summarize a few of my favorite parts. The judge said-

The AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment.. the kind of versatile gun that lies at the intersection of the firearms protected under Heller, and Miller, yet, the State of California makes it a crime to have an AR15.

When a citizen complains that the government is infringing, then it is the government that must carry the burden of justifying its restriction of Second Amendment rights.

..that a civilian rifle has design features similar to a military rifle does not detract from its constitutional protection, it actually enhances a firearm’s constitutional protection for militia readiness. The Court finds that the prohibited features do not change an AR-15 rifle from a benign weapon into an “incredibly effective killing machine.”

This Court therefore declares the California statutes to be unconstitutional.


..the “assault weapon” epithet is a misnomer. Like all guns, these prohibited guns are dangerous weapons that can be used for ill or for good. They could just as well be called “home defense rifles” or “anti-crime guns.”

In 1989, when the California assault weapons ban was written, most judicial thinking about the Second Amendment was incorrect. Judicial recognition of an individual right to keep and bear arms would only come later with the Heller decision in 2008 and the McDonald decision in 2010.

This case is not about extraordinary weapons lying at the outer limits of Second Amendment protection. The banned “assault weapons” are fairly ordinary, popular, modern rifles. This is an average case about average guns used in average ways for average purposes.

The news media persuades us that the nation is awash with murderous AR-15 assault rifles. The facts do not support this, and facts matter. Assault rifles were not the predominant type of weapon used in crimes.. handguns were..

The Federal Bureau of Investigation shows that killing by knife attack is far more common than murder by a rifle. In California in particular, murder by knife occurs seven times more often than murder by any kind of rifle. A Californian is three times more likely to be murdered by an attacker’s bare hands, fists, or feet, than by his rifle.. The same pattern can be observed across the nation.

The state says that the banned features of an assault rifle make the gun more accurate. It is not clear that a less accurate rifle would reduce the number of victims in a mass shooting. A less accurate rifle may very well result in different victims, but not necessarily fewer victims. On the other hand, in the self-defense context, which seems to be far more common, taking accurate shots at attackers is vitally important for the innocent victim.

In California, mere possession of a banned rifle that is commonplace and perfectly legal under federal law and in forty-four other states will land you in prison, will result in the loss of your rights including likely the right to vote, and probably will cause you irreparable monetary and reputational damages, as well as your personal liberty.

Over the last three decades, 19,797,000 modern rifles have been manufactured or imported into the United States. There are twice as many modern rifles in circulation than there are Ford F-150 pickup trucks. pass intermediate scrutiny, the assault weapons ban must address a real harm and alleviate the harm in a material way. The evidence described so far proves that the “harm” of an assault rifle being used in a mass shooting is an infinitesimally rare event.

In 1989, California’s Legislature predicted an assault weapons ban would eliminate or reduce mass shootings. It has not turned out that way. As discussed later, even the State’s evidence demonstrates that mass shootings with assault weapons continue to occur at the same average rate as before the ban. No case has held that intermediate scrutiny permits a state to impinge on the Second Amendment right by continuing to employ a known failed experiment.

Because firearm possession for the defense of home, self, and family is at the core of the Second Amendment right. Without question, there is clear evidence that AR-15 rifles are and have been used for self-defense.

California’s ban punishes persons who choose modern rifles for home defense. ..if modern rifles are misused in crime (even disproportionately), then the government must deal with those wrongful acts directly; it may not deal with the problem by suppressing the rights of law-abiding citizens to have modern rifles for lawful uses.

The states expert included the number of events in which no shots were fired in its calculation of an “average,” thus, the expert inaccurately reduces the average number of shots needed to defend oneself during a home intrusion. The expert’s opinion about the number of shots fired in self-defense is entitled to little weight and fails the scientific method.

(I would add that the most likely number of shot fired in armed self defense is zero, but that doesn’t mean you should carry an empty gun or that the state should restrict our magazines to zero rounds.)RM

..for 266,560 homeowners each year, either no firearm was at hand or it was not enough to prevent a violent attack. Are the lives of home invasion victims worth less than the lives of mass shooting victims?

The Constitution does not force citizens to arm themselves for their own protection. it does protect the liberty and freedom of those who choose to do so.

Government is not free to impose its own new policy choices on American citizens where Constitutional rights are concerned. The Second Amendment takes certain policy choices and removes them beyond the realm of permissible state action. California may certainly conceive of a policy that a modern rifle is dangerous in the hands of a criminal, and that therefore it is good public policy to keep modern rifles out of the hands of every citizen. The Second Amendment stands as a shield from government imposition of that policy.

The California Attorney General has already appealed the judge’s decision.

I gave you a thousand words out of 94 pages. Please share them with a friend.
What part of the decision did you like the best? RM

Changing Times.. and the Victims of Gun Control

June 7, 2021

We assume that tomorrow will be much like today. That is how we plan our lives and our politics. If we stop to think about it, we remember that the world surprises us all the time. We ignore that bad things happen because they happen so infrequently. Needing a fire extinguisher seems so unlikely.. until we smell smoke. This week, history reminded us how governments have hurt us. Consider these events and ask if the police were there to protect honest citizens, or would these citizens have been better off if they could defend themselves?

-Almost a hundred years ago to the day, thousands of black citizens in Tulsa, Oklahoma had to depend on the police for protection while they were attacked and their homes, their shops, and their businesses were burned to the ground by white mobs. None of these honest black citizens saw the need for armed defense.. the day before they needed it so desperately.

-Violence happens around the world. It was 32 years ago when over ten thousand unarmed students and teachers were murdered by Chinese politicians and the Chinese military in Tiananmen Square. The bodies were deliberately pulverized by tanks, scooped up by bulldozers, and then dumped to hide the number of protesters who were murdered. China has strict gun control.. for civilians.

armed Korean shopkeepers during the Los Angeles riots

-It was only 29 years ago when Korean shop owners in Los Angeles tried to stop black mobs from looting and burning their homes and businesses. 25 years earlier, the shop owners had been barred under California law from carrying handguns in public. Fortunately, a few of them were armed with rifles. Today, those are the same rifles that California politicians want to ban.

-It was six years ago when several dozen students at a teacher’s college were murdered by local government officials and drug gangs in Mexico. Mexico has strict gun control laws. Honest citizens are disarmed.

-It was only a few months ago when thousands of protestors in Hong Kong were arrested and forced onto trains going to reeducation and slave labor camps. Chinese officials say the citizens of Hong Kong are disarmed for their own protection.

Our memory plays tricks on us. Bad things happen every day, but we assume those surprising events will simply happen to someone else and not to us.  For most of us, our peace is interrupted by only occasional violence. We forget our unusual perspective where peace is the rule.

Our bias makes it easy to believe the politician as he sits in his air-conditioned office and slowly explains that we have no need for armed defense. That same claim is less believable when the official shouts in front of a burning building during a riot.

The police chief sounds so reasonable when he tells us to be a good witness and simply call the police. That same claim is incredible if the cop is in riot gear at a violent protest. As an unwilling participant in a number of recent natural disasters, I can attest that unexpected events can happen to anyone. In practice, the police show up later.. if at all.

We expect governments to talk to us. Sometimes it is easier for politicians and mobs to murder us. This year, we’ve had politicians in the US say we should burn down our cities and start over. Socialist elites have said their political opponents aren’t really people and need to be forcibly re-educated. While shocking and deplorable, this talk is mostly peaceful.. so far. Armed citizens keep the dialogue going because violence against armed citizens is so costly. Armed citizens deter both criminals and immoral politicians who would use violence to achieve their political ends.

I hope for peace: that’s why I am armed. Unfortunately, tens of  millions of honest and hard working citizens in the United States are disarmed by their government. I fear for them, and for the rest of us if they are attacked.

Tomorrow will be pretty much like today and the day before, but not always in the way we expect.

Please leave a comment. I gave you 600 words. Please share them with a friend. RM

Yahoo News Presses Anti-Rights Propaganda About Armed Citizens

June 2, 2021

Yahoo News published an article that reads like a press release from the gun-control organizations. They comment on a case that will come before the US Supreme Court. They claim that crime will go up if honest people are armed. Yahoo quotes opinion as fact while leaving out essential truths that give us perspective on gun ownership in the US.

They site the Brady Campaign and call it a “gun violence” organization. Brady changed their  name and their marketing slogans several times over the years. Now, they brand themselves with “gun violence” after they found that gun-control didn’t sell well. They are still selling the same old gun control laws. The article leaves out the fact that we have over 23 thousand firearms regulations already on the books. Armed criminals ignore those laws as easily as they ignore the laws against robbery, murder, and peddling illegal drugs.

Here are a few facts that the article conspicuously ignored-

  • Gun ownership has been growing for decades while at the same time rates of crime have been dropping. We saw rates of addiction and crime increase last year after we threw tens of millions of us out of a job during the Covid lockdown.
  • Criminals don’t buy their guns legally at gun stores and gun shows. Only you and I do that. That is why gun-control laws are ineffective at disarming criminals.
  • Gun owners who have their concealed cary license look like the most law abiding and non-violent group we can find in society; not only when compared to people in the US, but when compared to groups around the world. In addition, people with their concealed carry permits break fewer laws and shoot fewer bystanders than the police. Disarming these good guys doesn’t disarm the bad guys.
  • Deterrence is real. Honest gun owners are like the police in that they may touch their gun or draw their gun, but seldom have to press the trigger to deter violence. Criminals usually run once they discover their victim is armed.
  • Here is something else the article forgot to mention. Law abiding gun owners are hundreds of times more likely to use a firearm in legally justified self defense than a criminal is to use a gun in a crime. Guns save lives every day.

Why would a so called news organization leave out those important facts?

“The current law “makes it virtually impossible for the ordinary law-abiding citizen” to get the necessary license, said Paul Clement, a lawyer representing the challenger.”

I’ll add that Paul Clement is the former US Solicitor General and represented the federal government before the US Supreme court.

Source: New Yorkers demand right to carry hidden guns as America reels from bloody week of mass shootings


Please comment and share with a friend. RM

Too Wet and Tired to Write Right Now

May 21, 2021

I’m sorry I have not written more. We had several inces of water in our home on Monday. We’ve been tearing out floors and walls since then. That has left me a little tired and sore. The good news is that we might be able to sleep in our own home soon.

Local flooding, Picture from American Press

Here is a local news story on the rain. Friends carried their children through the flood waters and saw children going home from school in canoes. You can call us swamp people, but getting over a foot of rain in an hour rewrites the flood maps. For perspective, this was far worse than the two hurricanes we had last year. Fortunately this was a local weather event and towns thirty miles away stayed dry.

Who knew that your local stores would run out of mops. 🙂




Who Pays the Wolf?

May 18, 2021

The wolf sings his virtue to the moon. If you listen, the wolf says his howls call forth the new moon each month. He boasts that it is his voice that brings us the days and the nights. It is he who ensures the changing tides and seasons. The wolf says that no sacrifice is too high, not the blood of the lamb, for his creation of the seasons. The answer, of course, depends on who you ask.

The wolves spoke among themselves. They decided they are saviors and that it is a virtue to spend other creatures’ blood for their task. Today, we still hear the wolf’s howl, but the silent lambs, of course, have a different story to tell.

Liberal say they are saving future generations. They must shut down industry and your job in order to save us from “global warming”. They must have government bureaucrats in charge of businesses to save us from “inequity”. They must disband the police and disarm honest citizens in order to save us from “violence and injustice”. Of course, what we say, what we do, and what we think must be examined by government officials to stamp out the “unconscious racism” that only our woke elites can discern.

With their promise of the perfect world just over the horizon, who cares if we enslave our children under crushing debts. Everyone should be grateful for the sacrifices our woke leaders make, no matter the cost.. or so the woke liberals tell us.

Our woke betters don’t ask what we think because they fear our answers. They have to crush liberty and free speech because free men might reject the vision of utopia the elites force upon us. The elites have to crush capitalism and the free market because ordinary people would never spend their own money and their future on the elite’s fevered dreams. They need the club of government to rob us of our possessions and rob our children of their future.

I think otherwise, and I am not alone. I like dangerous freedom because freedom limits crazy people who want to seize control of other people’s lives. If we want to pass on a precious legacy, let’s pass on a legacy of freedom. Let’s ask our children if they care to repay the debts of their fathers.. or not.


Thoughts before the flood. RM


Media Betrayal and the End of the Trust Society

May 15, 2021

We learn more when we listen than when we speak. I sat with some young lawyers who are far smarter than I am. After a while, they politely asked about my interests, and then asked me about mass murder with a firearm. We were both interested by what they knew and by what they didn’t know. We learned that the media failed them. What does it mean if the media has failed some of the brightest people we can find?

These young men and women were the elites of their trade. These young lawyers and journalists were supremely well educated. They had been to some of the top law schools in our country. After they graduated, their personal ability and work ethic let them advance quickly.

They follow the news. They watch and listen carefully. Rather than simply answer their questions about public violence, I asked them what they thought was true.

“How many people do you think are killed in mass murder with a firearm each year?”

Words have meaning. The couple who killed themselves and their children by crashing their car is a tragedy, but it doesn’t fit our definition of public violence. We want to know about people who use a firearm to kill strangers. For example, the attack on Republican legislators at a ball field in Alexandria, Virginia was deliberately aimed at people because of their political positions. We use the definition of four strangers killed by the same persons or group in the same area on the same day.

“How many people die that way in the US each year?” I asked.

They looked uncomfortable. “We really haven’t studied this,” they said. We agreed that they followed the news. “What does the media tell you?” I asked. Their answers were fascinating.

“Is it 500 a year?” “A thousand?” they guessed.

”And how many times do ordinary people use a firearm to defend themselves?” I asked. They looked uncomfortable in giving me an answer until I said, “This isn’t sworn testimony. We’re not testing what you know, but what the media told you.” They visibly relaxed.

They knew that about 40 thousand people die from a firearm each year. They guessed that about the same number of us use a firearm for armed defense.

The truth is interesting, but their answers were fascinating. About 32 people are killed in mass public murder with a firearm each year. That is the average from 1998 to 2020. These brilliant and well informed lawyers thought that the rate of mass murder was about 20 times higher than it actually was.

Mass murder describes the criminal use of a firearm. In contrast, we defend ourselves between a half-million to three-million times a year. My young friends underestimated the actual rate of armed self-defense by a factor of more than 50. That is important.

These young professionals are better informed than the general public. They are a quick study and remember what they see. These young professionals are a good measure of what the media tells the public. Oddly enough, these young people supported the right of self-defense when self-defense was more common than mass murder.

If you read this blog, then consider yourself an expert compared to the general public and our politicians. The unanswered question is why?

The media doesn’t want you to know the facts. Everything we do has costs and benefits. People die in cars and from medical mistakes. I count myself lucky to travel by car and have medical care despite the accidents. On the subject of guns in the US, the media overplays the cases of mass murder and wildly under-reports the news of armed defense. That means we underestimate the ratio of benefits-to-costs of armed defense by a factor of a thousand.

Some of that misestimation is simply the result of human nature. We are wired to stay alive. We remember our bad experiences more vividly than our successes because we can’t afford to die. That partially explains why it is easy for us to remember a sensational disaster.

Another source of bias is from the media itself. Headline grabbing clickbait is rewarded with more advertising revenue than an important but ordinary story. It is more profitable for the news media to sell a few stories of mass murder than to tell us the thousands of stories of armed defense that happen every day.

In addition, many news editors don’t believe that ordinary citizens can or should defend themselves. They ignore the news stories when you do.

The media has broken the web of trust with the public. Every one of these young professionals at the table did not trust the mainstream media. They had already experienced media bias for themselves. They assumed that the news media lied to them. I agree that the media distorts the facts to fit their economic and political agenda.

I was going to ask these young people if they knew examples where ordinary citizens stopped mass murder, but I never had the chance. The waiter came with our food and the conversation moved on.


Losing Trust in Politicians and the News Media

May 2, 2021

The business of politics is to sell favors to influential special interests. That is how politicians like the Clintons, Obamas, and Pelosis became multi-millionaires. Today’s politicians have divided us into so many small factions that the favors they give to one group collide with the special interests they already granted to earlier groups. Simply stated, big-government politicians have made so many excuses for political abuse that they are now contradicting themselves. In theory, the media is supposed to scrutinize politicians rather than cheerlead for ever-greater government corruption. That didn’t happen. The accumulated political contradictions we see today help explain why both politicians and the media have lost our trust. Two more glaring examples caught my eye last week.

Again last week, Democrat politicians told us the police are racist. They said we need to defund the police and “reimagine policing”. Meanwhile, Democrat politicians also said we need to let the police decide which individuals may go armed in public. The unstated claim is that the police are politically neutral. The claim is gun prohibition disarms criminals, that disarming your neighbor will somehow keep a criminal from getting guns. Both history and recent evidence say they lie.

Remember that gun-control grew enormously immediately after the civil war. That is when Democrat politicians used gun-control laws to disarm recently freed black men and women in the face of the Klu Klux Klan. Gun-control has reached its ultimate contradiction today.

The racist roots of gun control

Today, we see anti-gun billionaires fly from resort to resort as they are protected by private armed security. Meanwhile, grandma is disarmed as she walks to the mailbox to get her social security check. That shouldn’t surprise us. When the police are given discretion, they sell the right to go armed to the highest bidders. That is what we saw in the big blue cities of Los Angeles and New York. Politicians and judges were given the rights that are denied to the rest of us. As you might then expect, many judges looked the other way when we went to court and asked the government to respect our right to go armed.

Many of us have learned from the past, even if politicians have not. We can’t both defund the police and pretend that our families are safe while we are disarmed. We can’t pretend that gun-control laws disarm the bad guys in the face of rising crime and open borders.

The politicians’ claim that gun-control makes us safer no longer fits the everyday evidence we collect through our own experience. The average citizen has seen too much, and the medias’ spin no longer convinces us.

The political contradictions go deeper. We were told that we’d finally be safe if we had universal background checks on every gun owner. We were told that we need the FBI to run a background check on us every time someone buys a gun, or even buys a box of ammunition. The claim is that the FBI, the agency who runs the background checks, would never be used as a tool to punish the administration’s political opponents. Again last week we saw that the FBI is as political as any government agency can be.

This is the same FBI who refused to provide documents about their corrupt Russia investigation during the Trump administration. This is the same FBI who stopped answering questions after Biden was elected in November. This is the same FBI who raided former prosecutor Rudy Guliani last week.

The FBI is partisan. We’ve seen Democrat politicians order a background check on every person who has a concealed carry permit every night. The politicians claimed it was for “public safety”, but it isn’t. It can’t be. Licensed concealed carry holders are one of the most law abiding and least violent sociological groups we can find in the world. Rather than doing what they are doing, the police would discover more criminals if they looked at random people from the phone book. Given the FBI’s political past, I can’t trust them to tell the truth about gun owners now. Looking at licensed concealed carriers to find crime is public-safety theater rather than real law enforcement. The FBI will stop performing background checks when their political masters tell them to.

The two examples I used show our politicians’ fake concern for justice rather than the real thing. Politicians act to get more kickbacks and more political power. The media bought the political excuses and closed their eyes to the political corruption. The good news is that more and more of us see the truth despite the media’s spin.

We used to talk about subjects like this on social media. Then, we got tired of being thrown in Facebook jail for pointing out the obvious. I don’t know which venue we will use, but we’ll again shout that the emperor is naked. We’ve seen too much to close our eyes. We’ve tasted freedom of speech and we won’t close our mouths.

I gave you 800 words for free. In return, please leave a comment, leave a rating, and share this with a friend. RM

End Racism and Sell Federal Lands

April 6, 2021

We’ve reached peak woke. The left has used up the obvious groups to demonize. Now, the left is redirecting its outrage back at itself. That is why we should give federal lands back to the states and help end racism.

We were recently told that national parks are racist. The nominal reason is that urban blacks don’t use the parks as much as whites. Everyone pays taxes which support federal property, but only some of us use that property.

Let’s go a step further. Blacks are disfavored in using all federal lands, not simply the designated park lands. Given the trillions of dollars the Biden administration spent on kickbacks, there won’t be enough money for restitution for slavery if we don’t reduce our budget and sell off federal lands.

Give those lands and their mineral rights back to the states with the provision that they may be sold to US owners. Let the “racist” greens buy those federal lands with their money, not ours.

You Should Carry a Concealed Firearm because You Stopped Mass Murder and Saved Many Lives 

April 5, 2021

Doctor John Lott is the president and one of the principal researchers at the Crime Prevention Research Center. Dr. Lott recently reminded us that guns save lives and stop mass murder. I’d forgotten about a few of these situations, though I’m sure I read a little about them at the time. In contrast, the media covers mass murderers for days on end. To help offset that media bias, let’s look back only 10 months to see what happened.

You might have forgotten, but you saved lives.

-Do you remember the armed attack at a shooting range/ gun store in Metairie, Louisiana that happened only a few months ago? The murderer was carrying a loaded gun in his hands. The staff at the store asked him to put his gun away. Instead, the murderer attacked staff and customers. Two victims were killed before staff members and customers shot the murderer and ended the attack. Then, staff and customers called 911.

-It was back in August of 2020 when an armed man saved lives in a Walmart in Weslaco, Texas. Our armed good guy saw another man walk into the store dressed in black and carrying a rifle. The armed citizen drew his firearm and pointed it at the intruder. A security guard also helped hold the would be attacker. The attacker was furious because you stopped him from killing people. Police arrived and took the rifle. The attacker was shot by law enforcement officers when he drew his handgun and threatened the police.

-You saved lives again last July in a sports bar in Dallas, Texas. A man was turned away from the bar due to restricted seating during the Covid epidemic. The angry customer came back and started shooting into the crowd. Four people were injured before armed patrons shot back and the attacker ran away. Police arrived minutes later.

-It was the middle of July when you were stopped at a traffic light in Brownsburg, Indiana. You saw two men run across the intersection. These two men were being chased by a man with a gun. The attacker shot them. You stepped out of your car and then the attacker shot at you. You shoot back and ended his attack. Emergency medical services are able to save one of the attacker’s intended victims.

-You saved lives in early July as you waited to get into a restaurant in Hummels Wharf, Pennsylvania. A stranger stopped his pickup truck in the middle of the parking lot. The driver got out and shot two people standing in line near. You draw your firearm and shoot back ending his attack. You call 911.

The list of armed defense incidents is much longer, but those are the ones that happened in the last 10 months. I suspect you are like me and forgot how often guns save lives.

Give Dr. Lott a read.

I gave you 400 words. Please share them with a friend.

Gun Control Fails Violently- Democrats Call for More Gun Control

March 30, 2021

We saw two horrific examples of mass murder in the last few weeks. As usual, the initial news reports were wildly wrong. The initial reports claimed the attacks were by racist white men using assault weapons. They were wrong, but the false report served the  political ends of the mass media and the politicians. The news reports deliberately failed to mention how the existing 20 thousand firearms regulations again failed to protect innocent people from violent attacks. Despite the shocking failure of gun-control laws, Democrat politicians called for more of the same.

Both politicians and pundits ignored the responses we know will reduce violent attacks. Unfortunately, the media and politicians are now part of the disease rather than being part of the cure to reduce mass public violence in the United States.

A murderer killed innocent women in Georgia. This murderer bought his gun legally. He bought his gun through the same purchase process at a gun store that tens of millions of us use every year. The murderer used the same sort of handgun that millions of honest citizens use to defend themselves every year. In short, the murderer looked like us.

This murderer passed his firearms purchase background checks when he bought his handgun. He was not a prohibited person before he committed his attack. Background checks have not done much to stop mass murderers. Background checks look back in history and mass murder isn’t a repeat crime. Time after time, we’ve seen people who went on to commit mass murder pass their background checks.

It is uncomfortable to imagine that a mass murder can look normal until he kills. It is uncomfortable to realize our gun-laws won’t protect us. This murderer didn’t bother to get his concealed carry permit because criminals don’t bother to follow gun-laws.

It would be nice if mass murderers were easy to identify ahead of time. They are not. They look like us and they act like us before they kill. They use the same firearms to harm others that we use to defend our families every day.

In Boulder, Colorado, a murderer killed innocent people in a supermarket. This murderer also bought his gun legally. He passed his background checks even though the FBI had a file on him. Like most mass murderers, and for the same reason, the murderer didn’t bother to get his concealed carry permit.

The grocery store this mass murderer attacked had a posted sign saying that customers should not carry firearms openly. A moments thought tells us that mass murderers won’t obey plastic signs. Again, honest citizens obey those gun-laws while murderers break the law. Gun-control may have disarmed the victims, but it did not stop violent criminals.

It is comforting to think a plastic sign saying “no guns allowed” will somehow keep violence away from us. That comforting thought is dangerous because ink on paper doesn’t stop mass murderers. Prohibition may feel good but it is getting us killed from coast to coast, and time after time.

Prevention is hard. I’ve studied mass murderers for a few years and I could only find one small telltale sign in this murderer’s past. Team sports are usually an antidote to mass murder. You have to submit to a set of rules in order to play those sports. If you’re knocked down, you are expected to pick yourself up and continue to play the game. You are expected to win or lose, and to do so without blaming others.

This murderer was thrown off the high school wrestling team because of his violent temper. That is a small but telling fact. Unfortunately, failing at a team sport is too small of an indicator to think we can reliably detect mass murderers in the making. We’ll have to try something else.

Sadly, we’ve been here before. Despite the media hype, violence is not an epidemic in the United States. The slow and steady increase in mass public violence is caused by understandable and preventable forces.

Politicians talked about these murderers for hours on end. The media put the murderer’s name and face in the news for days. Effectively, the news media and the politicians gave the murderer a multi-million dollar publicity campaign. We’ve seen what happens next. That media driven celebrity campaign attracts more broken people who will kill to be noticed.

That media driven celebrity campaign attracts more broken people
who will kill to be noticed.

Politicians don’t care. Republicans put forward an amendment to increase mental health funding after the attack at Sandy Hook Elementary school. Democrats voted down that amendment. That happened two decades ago, but the facts haven’t changed. Healing the sick isn’t sexy and it doesn’t get a politicians’ name in the paper.

Mass murder serves the interests of the media and of anti-gun politicians. They won’t change their actions until we change them. You and I will have to defend ourselves in small ways until we cure the sickness in our government and in the press.

I gave you 800 words. Please share them with a friend. RM

Ban on 205 Different ‘Assault Weapons’ Introduced by Sen. Feinstein

March 14, 2021

I told you so. So called “assault weapons” and magazine bans are only the beginning. Ask yourself why the police need “weapons of war” but you don’t. RM

“Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on Thursday introduced a ban on more than 200 “assault weapons” after the House passed two gun-control measures pertaining to background checks.

“Her bill (pdf), called the “Assault Weapons Ban of 2021,” is co-sponsored by 34 Senate Democrats and would ban ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds—similar to the bans on magazines in New York state and California.”

Source: Ban on 205 Different ‘Assault Weapons’ Introduced by Sen. Feinstein

Democrats get the Gun Control they Voted For

March 13, 2021

Some of my friends are democrats. Many are gun owners. They call themselves “pro-gun” Democrats. I’m struggling to figure out what that means. So far, democrat politicians are keeping their promise to disarm honest gun owners.

In 2020, the democrat party ran on a platform of gun-control. They ran on a platform of gun confiscation. They were not subtle about it. It was front-and-center during their campaign.

On the debate stage, presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke said, “Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47. If it’s a weapon that was designed to kill people on the battlefield, we’re going to buy it back.” The crowd of democrat supporters at the debate cheered. The news media never corrected O’Rourke that despite sharing some parts, the guns owned by US civilians are not used by either the US military or by the combat arm of any other military on the planet. Biden said O’Rourke would be put in charge of gun-control. Biden said he fought the NRA and is coming for them (the NRA) again.

Vice President Harris fought for gun-control as the Attorney General of California. She fought for laws denying the right to carry in public. She said the second amendment applies to the militia, but does not protect the right of individuals to keep and bear arms.

These are more than a few off-hand remarks that a candidate might make while trying to raise funds at a late-night cocktail party. Gun-control and confiscation are now pillars of the democrat party. Hilary Clinton asked for it. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris promised it. Billionaire Democrat donors demanded it.

There was a time when we saw pro-gun democrats in office. Today, not a single democrat congressmen has an “A” rating by the NRA. That begs the question of what it means to be for the right to keep and bear arms while you vote Democrat.

Politicians enact laws. That is what they do. Democrats enacted the gun-control legislation they promised. It wasn’t as if they had much of a choice. The Democrat party took hundreds-of-millions of dollars in campaign funds from anti-gun billionaire Michael Bloomberg. That wasn’t a donation; that was an investment to purchase a political goal. Bloomberg funds the anti-gun industry across the US. Bloomberg expects results.

He got them. Congress passed a mandatory background check bill last week. H.R. 8 requires that law abiding gun owners submit to a background check before they sell or transfer a firearm. It is now illegal to loan a firearm to the young woman next door who is being threatened by her ex-boyfriend. I underlined the words law abiding for a reason. Criminals don’t buy their guns at gun stores or gun shows. Criminals don’t submit to background checks. Only honest gun owners do that.

This bill, H.R. 8, is designed to disarm you, not them. A single Democrat congressman voted against it.

You now have to ask the government to exercise your rights. Congress passed H.R. 1446. That bill said the government has 10 days to check on your criminal history. After those 10 days, you may apply to the FBI for an exemption and ask to receive your firearm. In theory, you may receive your firearm after an additional ten days if the FBI does not reply. We don’t know how the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms will react when gun shops issue a firearm without FBI approval.

Democrat politicians said that H.R. 1446 would stop mass murderers. I have to remind us that background check bills look backward in time. Mass murderers may plan their attack for years, but they never plan to repeat their atrocities. This bill would not have stopped mass murder, but it might disarm you or the people you love.

If you don’t follow current events, then you might have missed how governments routinely breaks their own laws. By law, the Illinois State Police are required to issue Firearm Owners Identification cards in 30 days. In practice, they have stopped issuing them. There are similar laws in New Jersey and California. There is no penalty when the government breaks its own laws. In these cases, they seldom follow the law. Now, Democrats want the federal government to have the same power and do the same thing.

This isn’t an obscure matter of legal procedure. Politicians brag to the news media about the great things a bill might do. We must study the harm the bill will cause when misused by corrupt special interests. Women have died at the hands of stalkers while they waited for a government permit to protect themselves. The media never holds those politicians accountable for the harm they cause. Democrats say they support working men and women, yet the gun-control bills they passed grant rights only to those who are willing and able to buy a lawyer and pay for them.

Criminals don’t apply for background checks. You do. Prohibition fails.. every time. When this law fails to reduce crime, Democrat politicians will say we need even more regulations to disarm you.

Politicians care how you vote.

You may vote democrat and yet want to keep and bear arms. The politicians you elected don’t care what you want. In fact, politicians don’t care how you feel or what you say. Politicians only care how you vote.

This is the firearms prohibition that democrats across the country voted for. Unfortunately, this is only the beginning. There are many more gun-control bills to come.


The Biased Press Echoes Political Spin and Ignores the Deadly Results of Gun Control

March 4, 2021

Politicians say one thing and do another. They give us their best smile as they claim that up is down. A skeptical press is supposed to ask tough questions and see through the politician’s spin. Reporters are supposed to get at the truth even if it is uncomfortable. I suspect it is easier to make a politician uncomfortable than for reporters to question their own beliefs. Gun control legislation is a sad example where both the politicians and the media are spinning the truth. Unfortunately, we see that happen from coast to coast and in-between. Since the mainstream press won’t do it, it is up to us to separate the grain of truth from the flood of political spin. Here are a few examples of the work the news media failed to do.

California already enacted a raft of gun control legislation, but that isn’t enough. This year, California Senate Bill 264 seeks to ban the sale of firearms, of ammunition, and of many gun parts on property owned or operated by either the state or the county. This bill bans most gun shows. The authors claim that gun shows deliver guns to criminals and so promote violent crime and mass murder. That talking point was parroted by the Los Angeles Times.

Legislation that promises instant peace sounds fantastic. The Times never questioned if eliminating these gun shows on government property would significantly reduce violent crime. It is easy to test if the political spin was the truth.

We have data so we don’t have to guess. Every firearms regulation that applies outside a gun show also applies inside a gun show. Also, researchers conducted a study where they asked about a hundred inmates where they got their guns. Inmates with an arrest record never risked using a gun store or gun show. They got their guns illegally from their friends or family who didn’t have a criminal record. The claim that disarming honest people also disarms criminals simply fails the test.

That result holds true even in states where honest citizens are heavily regulated as they buy or transfer a firearm. This is exactly the result we should expect. Criminals don’t follow gun laws any more than they follow the laws forbidding robbery or drug trafficking. Unfortunately, some reporters let their idealism blind them from reporting the facts.

That blindness isn’t limited to the west coast or to Democrat controlled states like California. The Philadelphia Inquirer called for more gun control, including laws regulating the storage of firearms. They said this was for the safety of adults and children. This year, Pennsylvania House Bill 699 requires that firearms be stored when not in use. Not in use is defined as being out of arms reach. The bill’s author says this is to protect children from unsecured guns.

Other than a few psychopaths, I can’t imagine anyone wanting to see children hurt. The claim is that unsecured firearms cause more harm than good. Again, we have data to test that claim.

According to the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 41 children who were 12 years of age or younger died in a firearms accident in 2019. Some of those accidental deaths could have been from an unsecured firearm where a child got a gun and pulled the trigger. I’m sure some of them were, and each one of those deaths is a tragedy. Stopping there is leaves most of the story unreported.

Of course we want to save lives. Every firearms instructor I know teaches safe storage. That education program is working and the rate of firearms accidents has been falling for years. The US CDC also has more data we need to study. Under President Obama, the CDC reported that we use a firearm to stop murder or great bodily injury about 1.2 million times a year. Most of the time we don’t have to fire a shot before the criminal runs away.

Parents use a gun to protect their children
far more often
than children injure themselves with a gun.

I hate that honest citizens faced a threat and had to reach for a firearm to protect themselves and their family. The good news is that we are tens-of-thousands of times more likely to use our gun for self-defense than for our firearms to be involved in a accident that kills a child. There is a down side to that good news. The bad news is that we can only disarm a few honest gun owners before we’ve put more of our children at risk.

Remember that we have tens of thousands of violent crimes committed in businesses and stores every year. Safe storage laws would turn that honest shop-owner into a criminal because he keeps a gun behind the counter. We become a criminal if we go to the bathroom at night and leave our a gun in the dresser drawer next to our bed.

Unfortunately, laws that are overly broad put the most vulnerable of us at risk. A battered mom probably can’t drag her gun-safe with her as she flees to safety with her children. Now, she has to decide to give up her firearm and leave her family defenseless, or leave the women’s shelter due to safe storage laws. Gun control laws that say they protect children can actually put more children at risk.

No matter how good it sounds, gun-control can do more harm than good.

Too often, journalists call it reporting when they’ve simply repackaged the politician’s press release. We have to live with results of bad legislation and bad reporting.

Colorado politian’s say they only want common sense gun-control. Democrats in Colorado proposed mandatory waiting periods before law abiding citizens could take possession of their firearm. This delay usually occurs after the buyer passed their background check. Think about what that says.

You passed your background check so we know you have a clean criminal record. The implied claim is that we buy a gun to commit a crime of passion. Delaying our ability to get a gun would eliminate our violent act because we would change our mind or the opportunity to commit that crime would go away. That is an interesting story, but it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. The law applies to everyone, and the law ignores the tangible benefits of being armed.

These laws typically have exceptions for law enforcement officers. I have not seen exceptions written into the law for individuals who have their concealed carry licenses. That is strange once you know the facts. Where we have data, we find that concealed carry holders are more law abiding and less violent than the police. This law intentionally disarms the good guys.

We also apply the waiting period to every firearm purchase. The law requires a waiting period even if we already own a gun. The law couldn’t possibly stop us from having a gun to use in a violent crime if we already own one. Perhaps the claim is that we wouldn’t commit murder with our old gun, but we would kill with our new one. I can’t find data to support that.

The mandatory waiting period ignores the urgency of armed defense. Ten million of us face domestic abuse each year. The storage law claims it will save lives lost in a crime of passion. It ignores the lives it will cost when victims are disarmed for days or weeks. Furthermore, you and I become a criminal if we give our gun to the young woman next door who is threatened by a stalker or ex-boyfriend.

I don’t think it is fair to sacrifice our her safety to the politician’s promise of reduced violence.

Accurate reporting is supposed to dig through the virtue-signaling and give us the facts. Instead, we have reporters who signal their virtue by spinning the news. That puts many of us at risk from the ego and narcissism of politicians and reporters. The stakes are too high for us to believe what we read in the news.

I gave you 1300 words for free. Please share them with a friend. RM

Can Nuclear Power be Green?

March 1, 2021

Selected material taken from a lecture presented on 24 September, 2019 at San Diego City College.  7,000 words by Rob Morse

What do you know?

When we say, “I’m sure this is true.” we’re saying that we understand the contextual limits of our knowledge. I’m thinking of statements like ‘This food is good for you.’ or ‘This material is appropriate for this use.’ We live and die by knowing if statements like that are true.. except statements can be true in one context and not true in another. Here is an example that happened to me the other day.

I have a friend who I’ve trusted with my life, and I will trust her again. She is completely trustworthy most of the time, but I can not trust her to walk by a French bakery early in the morning.

I hope you have such trustworthy friends.. and that you learn to feed them.

Can she be trusted?

When people say they are arguing about “the facts” they are usually arguing the context of their claims.

Real facts are complicated. We need to know more than what the headlines tell us. In all honesty, if we only know what we are told by the news media, then we are dangerously ill-informed. I’m glad we’re having this discussion at a junior college because context should be the hallmark of education. That is profoundly true for political claims.. like saying a particular source of energy is good for society.

I’ve studied energy and nuclear power and I say that nuclear power can be good. I love that we can make people’s lives better. Let me show you the context of that claim. You should know who I am that I’d make such a statement.

A diverse career

I am an engineer. I worked on nuclear power plants. I worked on coal and natural gas power plants. I worked on the research for fusion powered nuclear plants. I worked on the edge of technology. I’ve physically touched parts that are now on other planets.

I had to be confident about what I knew, and more important than that, I had to know where my confidence stopped. So I’m asking you, where does your knowledge stop? One of the bravest things you can say is, “I don’t know. Let’s find out.” I spent my life living with that confession, that admission of ignorance.

One of the bravest things you can say is, “I don’t know. Let’s find out.”

I’m going to talk about nuclear power in a general way. We’ll use a few simple graphs, but the facts are simple enough to understand for almost anyone. Here is what we need to know.

To talk about nuclear power, we must talk about the facts of life here on earth. We only have a few sources of energy. Our energy comes from the sun, from past sunshine that was stored chemically, or stored energy from previous suns that exploded. That stellar debris was swept into our solar system. The nuclear fuels we use today are the billion-year-old legacy bequeathed to us from those dying stars that are older than our sun.

That raises all kinds of questions-

  • Is this stellar debris rare or is it common?
  • Are the results of nuclear processes dangerous and unmanageable poisons,
    or are they essential for life on earth?
  • How did the earth come to be, and what keeps it going?

A six-year-old asks those sorts of questions. The answers are straightforward, at least at their surface, and you should know them. I already gave you a hint. If these materials under our feet and in our bodies have been around for several billion years then they are extraordinarily stable.

We have to understand where we came from.

This is the periodic chart of the chemical elements you first saw in junior high school. That blue arrow points at iron. Every element that is farther along the periodic table than iron is the remains of a stellar explosion. Those heavy elements don’t come from our sun in any appreciable amount.

We’re talking about elements like iron, zinc, selenium, and iodine. These are essential for life. Your thyroid gland and every cell that reacts to the thyroid hormone needs selenium and iodine. You have iron in every blood cell and muscle cell in your body. Life on earth depends on the heavy elements that came from exploding stars.

There is an underlying claim here as well. Some of this star-stuff is radioactive. Iron is the most stable nuclear element so everything either fusions or fissions toward iron. The universe ends in rust.

In contrast, some heavy elements have an atomic weight that is about four times heavier than iron. That means they have almost four times as many protons as iron and more than four times as many neutrons. These radioactive materials make life possible. Life on earth depends on nuclear decay, but you knew that, didn’t you?

Life on earth depends on nuclear decay!

Life would never have formed if the earth weren’t radioactive. The proof is under our feet.. and in our kitchens. Common materials like granite include the naturally occurring elements uranium and thorium. These elements are both common enough and sufficiently radioactive that their nuclear decay keeps the metallic core of our planet molten. That molten core is why the earth has a magnetic field. That magnetic field keeps our atmosphere from being stripped away by the solar wind. The convection currents in the molten core of the earth also move continents across the surface of the earth. That motion recycles carbon from the deep sea floor back into the environment through volcanism.

If we could somehow turn off all radioactivity, then the earth’s core would cool. Plants on the surface of the earth would run out of CO2, and our atmosphere would bleed away into space. Earth turns into Mars and we die.

You had classes on the environment. Did anyone tell you that the heart of our planet is powered by nuclear decay? Life isn’t a child’s cartoon. It takes more than sunshine and rainbows to make volcanic mountains.

Did anyone tell you that the heart of our planet is powered by nuclear decay?

Does electricity matter anymore?
Look at the thin habitable surface of the earth. Out here, humans lived by muscle power for millions of years. We eliminated human slavery when we made machines and chemical energy do our work for us. Today, we can live in safe, clean, and comfortable shelters because we have cheap, abundant and reliable sources of power. That’s important.

Electricity made us both more moral and more comfortable. The first time we had a billion humans on the earth was in the early 1800s. Today, we have about 7.5 billion people on the planet. Last year, we finally had fewer than a billion people who had to live without access to electric power. That is incredible progress.

Living in a hut with open fires and poor sanitation
is one of the most dangerous environments we have.

Once you have electrical power, you can work and study at night because you have light. You can store your raw food in a refrigerator and keep your cooked food from rotting overnight. You can stop stripping your local forest of the branches you need to cook your food. You can stop collecting cattle poop for fuel. You can run pumps to have clean water and your kids don’t die from the diseases in dirty water. That is awesome.

Living in a hut with open fires and poor sanitation is one of the most dangerous environments we have. People live longer and better when they have electricity. But, there is more. Electrical power also produced the greatest liberation of humanity in recorded history.

And here it is-

That picture of an old washing machine is a life-saving device. Once you have power then you can wash your clothes in a machine with hot water. If you think I’m joking, then wash your clothes by hand in a bucket for a week. Soap and water saved more lives than antibiotics have yet to save. The washing machine also doubled the intellectual capacity of the human race because women weren’t spending all day carrying water and beating our clothes with rocks at the edge of a river. That gave women time to read. Women’s liberation came out of a wall socket and a hot water faucet. My mother lived it, and it was good.

Women’s liberation came out of a wall socket and a hot water faucet.
My mother lived it, and it was good.

We might laugh, but there are still a billion people who are trying to get clean water and soap. The good news is that worldwide, we connect a few hundred thousand people a day to the power grid. That one action helps us reduce poverty on a scale that is unprecedented in human history. The word unprecedented isn’t a rhetorical flourish in a politician’s speech. It is a fact. We are improving the conditions of human life faster than we ever have. We are making the poor less poor.

I helped a little. Capitalists like me are doing it today. You should do it too. You should do it because it is good.

Should we use renewable energy?

Use it if you want. It’s not that I’m anti-solar or anti-wind, it is that I’m pro-algebra. It takes junior-high school math to figure out how many solar panels are required to power the electric cars driving down a highway. You can use your phone to look up the numbers. The longer the road, the longer the strip of solar panels running alongside it. When you have more cars and more lanes of traffic, then you need a wider strip of solar panels to provide the power for the cars on the road.

What does it take to live on renewable power? It takes over a hundred yards of solar panels for each lane of traffic. An eight-lane highway takes over half mile of solar panels to power the cars that run on it. It takes more on the coast, and less in the desert. It is obvious that you don’t have to put the panels next to the road, but they have to go somewhere close by. Look at our roads and ask if you want to cover the landscape with solar panels. You can do the algebra. Where will you put those solar panels in town and in the suburbs?

Go build and operate your electric car with solar power if you want. Only a few percent of us can afford that. Saying that everyone has to live like the elite rich people who live in Malibu, California or Fairfax, Virginia means that most of the people on our planet won’t have clean water and clean clothes. It means that more of their kids will die. That is evil.

Those pictures are Chicago at night. I remember looking out from one of those buildings at the lights of the city. It was cold outside, and I thought about what would happen if the power went off. I changed my major field of study from physics to nuclear engineering. You can see the city from space. That city needs a lot of power.

Back to our earlier question, is the nuclear fuel to power an electrical plant scarce or common? Is nuclear power a good idea or a bad one? An honest answer is some “yes”, and some “no”.

There are thousands of possible designs for a nuclear reactor. I built plants that ran on enriched uranium. I think that is crazy. The only reason we do that today is because, once upon a time, we built atomic bombs. We knew how to handle uranium. That is not a good reason to keep doing it.

The only reason we have the particular type of nuclear power plants that we have today is because a guy in the navy wanted nuclear powered submarines. He wanted them badly and in a hurry. There are compelling reasons to leave that design behind and move on.

I don’t like nuclear power the way we do it today.

There are other ways to make power. Thorium is a nuclear fuel. We’ve used it to power reactors as a fertile fuel. It is the 38th most common element in the earth’s crust. It is more common than tin, or zinc, boron, arsenic, bromine, iodine, or bismuth.

Do any of you think we’re going to run out of tin for tin cans, or zinc for sunscreen, or borax soap, or the bismuth in Pepto-Bismol any time soon? There is one particular mountain on the Idaho/Montana border that has enough Thorium to power the world for the next thousand years. From heating your home, to powering our electric cars, to taking carbon dioxide out of the air and converting it into jet fuel; there is enough energy to do everything you want to do.

If you come away from this talk with anything, then remember this. We have enough energy to power the world forever. If someone says we don’t, then they are trying to manipulate you.

We have enough energy to power the world forever.
If someone says we don’t, then they are trying to manipulate you.

I’m an engineer. We have closer to ten thousand years of nuclear fuel in that one mountain, but I expect our energy consumption to increase over time so I called it a thousand years. Isn’t that great that we have a special mine like that? Eh, it is just another mountain with a mine. We have other sources of thorium. It is as common as dirt.

The energy to power our high-tech air-conditioned and micro-waved life is in a ball of thorium the size of a golf ball for each of us. That provides the power you’ll need during your entire lifetime. The energy we consume is also contained in a ball of coal that is 33 feet in diameter. It’s yours and it is mine.

With thorium power, the nuclear waste each of us leaves behind is the size of a grain of rice. In 300 years it decays to the levels of background radiation. Most of it decays in about two years, but there is some nasty stuff we want to keep locked up longer.

That 33-foot mountain of coal that you and I drag around with us also has Thorium mixed into the coal ash, so it isn’t as if we are living nuclear-free today. Not really. The contaminants that come in natural gas are also mildly radioactive. I wouldn’t be able to license either a coal power plant or a natural gas power plant today if I were held to the same standards as a nuclear plant simply because those other plants emit too much radiation.

That doesn’t mean coal and gas are particularly unsafe. It means that the regulations governing a nuclear plant are extremely stringent. Why didn’t you know that?

What is the problem with nuclear power? Let’s talk about the sensational claims that you all came to hear. What about nuclear bombs and nuclear waste. But radiation is bad and turns lizards into monsters that attack Tokyo. I saw it on my phone, so it has to be true.

Nuclear energy can be bad, and it can be good. The better question to ask is.. compared to what? Compared to living without power? Compared to making power so expensive that people can’t get clean water? Compared to doing more of what we’re doing today? Let’s look at where we are and where we could be.

You say you want to save the environment? Then you should be the strongest advocate for nuclear power.

Nuclear power produces a quarter of the greenhouse gasses compared to solar energy. And that is with the old style nuclear plants, not even the efficient nuclear plants that I want to build. The nuclear plant I like puts wind to shame.

It takes a lot of energy to make solar cells. Those cells have about the same lifetime as a nuclear plant, a little shorter, but we can be generous. We do a horrible job of recycling used solar panels once the water resistant seals break down and their connections corrode. We never designed solar panels for re-use.

You say you want to save lives? Then you should be the strongest advocate for nuclear power. Nuclear power is four times safer than wind power and ten times safer than solar. Nuclear power in the US is even safer than these numbers, but I included nuclear power data from around the world. Climbing roofs to put on solar panels is about as dangerous as climbing trees for a living. People get hurt installing and maintaining solar panels. They fall and things fall on them.

What does that mean? Look at the numbers and ask yourself this question- Why did politicians regulate and destroy nuclear power in California? It wasn’t to save the environment. It wasn’t to save lives. I gave you those numbers, so what was the reason?

Killing nuclear power in California let politicians sell a soundbite. Nuclear power died, and more people died with it, because we didn’t read past the headlines. Politics are real. We made them, and they should make us ANGRY.

Killing nuclear power in California let politicians sell a soundbite.

(It is an odd feeling when we talk about radiation to avoid being depressed by California politics.)

Let’s shine some light on radioactivity. We have to talk about radiation and radioactive decay before we can determine whether nuclear power is good or bad. Some heavy elements decay. Certain isotopes, and that means certain combinations of protons and neutrons, decay faster than others.

We’re not going to run out of potassium tomorrow, but some potassium isotopes are radioactive. Half of these isotopes will be gone in the next billion years. They decay so slowly that you’re not worried about having a bottle of low-sodium salt in your hand even though it contains radioactive potassium. In fact, potassium is an essential element. You need it in your diet.. and it is mildly radioactive.

What does it mean that some of the chemicals that our body needs are naturally radioactive? It means we can measure things that sound shocking but aren’t dangerous. We have to read past the headlines that scream, “Our food is contaminated with radiation.” We know they sell potassium chloride, low-sodium salt, in the supermarket. One of the reasons that oranges and orange juice is good for us is that they contains potassium. (So do other fruits, but I want to save them for later.)

Some nitrogen is converted into radioactive carbon in our upper atmosphere. That means our toast is slightly radioactive. Yawn. You’re also exposed to radiation when you live up in the mountains and when you fly long distances in an airplane at high altitude. So what. Things that decay very slowly are not a significant risk to us.

We need context. Yes, radiation can kill us. I’ve worked at sites where you wore monitoring badges and stayed out of hot zones. You couldn’t work there if you didn’t follow the rules. We can measure extremely low levels of radiation. That is a good thing, but it isn’t necessarily an alarming thing.

Time matters.
Let’s look at the other extreme. Some materials are so radioactive that they decay very quickly. Instead of decaying in a billion years, they decay in a few minutes. What should we do with them? Well don’t hold them in your hand and don’t eat them.

We’ve solved this problem before. We put these materials in a bottle and go home for the weekend. Their radioactivity decreases by a factor of 90-billion in a day. On Monday afternoon we can pour them out and reuse the bottle.

I worked on nuclear powerplants. The dose you got if you stood at the edge of the property boundary for a year was the same dose you got from eating one banana. Bananas contain high amounts of potassium. You know what that means?

It means we can measure and calculate meaningless things. You sat next to your friend at lunch. The two of you are both radioactive. We can calculate the radiological-health impact of you sitting next to each other for your 45 minute lunch break. Multiply that exposure by the third of a billion people in the United States, and we can calculate the number of cancers deaths we cause each year by hugging our friends. Hugs won’t give you cancer and a banana is not a public health risk due to radiation.

Hugs won’t give you cancer..
and a banana is not a public health risk due to radiation.

Context is everything.
Here is something I find amazing because of its unusual context. It is true that nuclear power will increase the short-term radiation at the property line of a nuclear power plant. It is also true that nuclear reactors burn up radioactive materials. The reactor actually decreases the possible radioactive dose that is here on earth.

As a student, I had to calculate worst-case accidents. What would happen if we took an operating nuclear reactor apart, fed it to children, and counted the damage forever. It turns out that the longer you ran the nuclear plant, the fewer people died. The point is that you get silly answers if you make silly assumptions.

That strange answer makes sense. When you’re done driving your car, there is less petroleum than when you started. You used up some of the gasoline. When we use nuclear fuel, there is less total radioactivity than when we started. Rather than decay in a billion years, we made heavy elements react today. They were going to decay anyway if we waited long enough, but we gave them a push.

If radiation is bad then we want to build lots of reactors and burn up all the heavy isotopes that are out in the world decaying on their own. If radiation is bad then we’d want to fill the world with nuclear power plants that are eating up the stuff even if we throw the power away. I think we should use the power to make our lives better.

What about nuclear bombs? Isn’t that what you came to find out? Can you build a bomb?

When a physicist says you can do something it means it doesn’t break the laws of nature. There is uranium in your granite countertop at home. That means it is theoretically possible for us to build a bomb from countertops. As an engineer, it is my job to calculate how many years and how many dollars it would cost. It is both expensive and slow, but if you have enough time, money and countertops, we can do it.. eventually.

In theory, if we have enough time, money and countertops, we can build a bomb.

The Uranium isotope you need for a bomb is less than one percent of the uranium found in nature. You can’t use chemistry to concentrate the isotope you want because all uranium behaves the same way in a chemical reaction. Building a bomb is hard work.

Saying that you can build a nuclear bomb out of granite countertops is like saying you can build a chemical bomb out of bananas. The raw materials are all there, but you still have a lot of work to do. Would outlawing bananas keep us safe from terrorist building bombs?

Everything we do comes with a risk. Thank you for coming to this talk today. According to my calculations, it was dangerous for you to come here.. compared to staying at home in bed with the covers pulled over your head. Solar energy comes with a risk because we have guys falling off roofs. Leaving people in poverty is dangerous too. Real solutions are hard to find because we want answers that work in a lot of cases and in lots of places, not just in Malibu and Fairfax.

That doesn’t answer your question about bombs. Sigh. OK.

Can you use a LFTR reactor to build a bomb? You could use almost any reactor to create bomb making materials if you modify it enough and have enough money and time. This isn’t the sort of operation you whip together over the weekend in your garage using old car parts. You leave a giant industrial sized footprint and you’ll probably need the better part of a decade. We’re talking about a very large industrial complex. Think of something the size of a several football stadiums. Building a bomb is many-billions-of-dollars hard.

Building a bomb is billions of dollars hard.

Ask yourself if it is safer to leave people in sickness and poverty or to provide electric light and clean water for them? Please study it and decide which is better.

What makes one source of power better than another?
I said that there are about a thousand ways we could build a nuclear reactor. Let’s compare the design we want with the designs we have today. You might have your own list, but these are the things I want.

• Price competitive
• Inexpensive
• Stable and walk-away safe
• Very little nuclear waste or bomb-making materials.
• Small. Easy to find a site to build it.

Look at those requirements. That is a lot to ask.

  1. We want the electricity to be competitive with existing electrical power generation. We want neither subsidies nor taxes on nuclear power and the alternatives.
  2. We want it to be inexpensive to build each plant. We want many sources of power rather than one large, perfect, monument to politics. There are economic, engineering and political reasons to spread power production across the electrical grid. We want to spread power across the country and around the world.
  3. We want the plant to be stable, and self-correcting in terms of power and temperature. That means it operates is a stable manner without constant adjustment from outside. Think of the powerplant acting like a car that sits on four wheels rather than like a unicycle where you have to work all the time so it won’t fall over. That is easy to do if you design for stability from the start. Walk-away safe means that if you don’t like what the plant is doing, then you can unplug it, walk away, and it safely shuts itself down.
  4. The powerplant produces very little nuclear waste or bomb making materials. That makes sense and I’ll come back to it in a minute.
  5. Small means we don’t need square miles of land for each plant. How about the size of a few tennis courts instead of the size of a football stadium and its parking lot.
    To say it is easy to find a building site means the plant doesn’t need to be near a lake or a river.. or on a mountain top for that matter. We want to be able to put it wherever we want it.

What about nuclear waste?
I said the reactor we want will produced very little nuclear waste or bomb-making materials. We can get rid of most of it, but not all of it.

Do you know what the largest amount of waste is from an operating nuclear plant? The stuff they put in drums and bury in the dirt out in the desert is mostly paper towels. Things leak. Things drip. A small percent of the time, things don’t go as planned. Drips happen but we wipe them up.

This isn’t a surprise. The coffee machine at home drips as we clean it. We wipe up the spills. We want practical solutions that work on bad days. Don’t hold me to absolute perfection. Require that the design makes progress from where we are today.

Those requirements I listed are a revolution ahead of anything we have now. It might not be possible to create a power source that meets those specifications. How long do you think it would take us to come up with that reactor design? A few years? A decade? A century?

We did it. We tried it. It works. So why aren’t we doing it now?

You know the joke about medical regulations? I’m sorry, ma’am. We tried to save your grandmother but the paperwork was insurmountable.

This reactor we’re talking about wasn’t like the design that powered the first nuclear submarines. It wasn’t like the designs that were first used in nuclear generating plants. The people who licensed existing plants didn’t know how to license this new design.

The paperwork was insurmountable.

It is your duty to educate yourself.
Today we’ve added politics and media sensationalism to the energy problem. A second’s worth of lies can take a minute to answer. Unfortunately, we’re off to the next topic in the news after a 15 second sound bite.

We are the antidote to that. We have to be more informed and dedicated to the truth than the politicians and journalists who manipulate us. Please turn off your TV. Step off Facebook. Read until you understand. It is our duty to educate ourselves.

Some people will tell you that a new design for a nuclear plant is too expensive for commercial consideration. It isn’t.

I live in a county where we have about 55 billion dollars of plant-investment this year. We have about a hundred billion dollars planned through the next three years. About a third of the capital investment in the entire USA is on the southern edge of the Louisiana-Texas border. This region by itself would be richer than the gross domestic product of over 100 countries.

That shows we can tolerate cost and risk. What investors won’t stand for is political uncertainty. They can’t afford that a politician will walk in and tax and regulate everything they do and bleed them into bankruptcy. That is precisely what we did to the nuclear industry.

You’ve seen that happen before. That is why your electricity and gasoline are so expensive here in California.. and why your unemployment is so high.

But what about nuclear waste?
The nuclear design I like is called LFTR (lifter). That stands for Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor. In the nuclear reactors we use today, we consume about one-half of one percent of the fuel we put into them. The rest of the fuel becomes radioactive waste. We consume an isotope of uranium that is about as rare and hard to find as platinum. The isotope in the fuel is also so energy-dense that we consume a few pounds of it a year as we make a half-million dollars of electricity a day.. for day after day.

You can hold a pellet of natural uranium-oxide in your hand. It won’t burn you. It isn’t even hot to the touch. It isn’t a radiation hazard until you put it in a nuclear reactor. Then it becomes bad news.

We have to deal with the 90 percent of the fuel that we didn’t consume in the nuclear reaction. We took tons of a heavy element like uranium and we bombarded it in a nuclear reactor for a few years. That is the stuff you have to hide in the ground for thousands of years.. maybe.

With that statement, I gave away the secret of how we reduced the amount of nuclear waste in the LFTR reactor by a factor of at least 200 compared to the nuclear plants we have today. In the LFTR design, we consume a ton of fuel and generate about 100 grams of transuranic waste. That is that ratio of a golf ball to that grain of rice I showed you earlier.

We’re able to do that because nature gave us a gift. Naturally occurring thorium is isotopically pure. That means that the thorium we find in dirt has a constant number of protons and neutrons. We convert that one isotope of thorium into an isotope of uranium inside the reactor. We only put in the exact materials we want to make power.. and we don’t put in anything else.

We can design a plant that doesn’t have the problem of nuclear waste in the first place.

Compared to the reactors we have today, we don’t put junk in and we don’t get radioactive junk out. That is important progress. It is possible for us to design a nuclear plant so it doesn’t have the problem of nuclear waste in the first place.

We did. Been there. Done that.

We form our intuition based on our experience. In the chemical world where you and I live, we expect that if we want a faster chemical reaction then we add heat and pressure. That intuition fails us in the nuclear world.

Can you have an industrial process that runs at over a thousand degrees Fahrenheit and at atmospheric pressure? We run a nuclear reactor with a coolant temperature of over 1100 C. That is close to 2 thousand degrees Fahrenheit.

We also want the reaction to slow down as the reactor heats up. In fact, let’s make that part of the design requirements for the plant we want. We’ll require that the reactor operates at low pressure and be chemically stable at high temperatures. While we’re at it, design this powerplant so that if we picked it up and cracked it like an egg, then it wouldn’t burn or explode. That sounds impossible, but it isn’t.

That rocket is where our intuition goes when we think of high-powered chemical reactions. I want us to think again.

These are red-hot steel parts coming out of a pot of molten salt. You can expose the salt to the air and nothing happens. You can pour the salt on the floor, and after the floor paint blisters and the concrete stops steaming, the salt lies there as it cools. When it solidifies back into solid salt, we can pick it up with a shovel. We can pour water on it and there isn’t a chemical reaction. We use molten salts for high temperature heat transfer every day.

This isn’t your grandpa’s locomotive. High temperature water is dangerous, so don’t use it. We use a molten salt as a heat transfer fluid because it is extremely chemically stable at high temperatures and the salt shrugs off radiation.

Don’t confuse molten salts with salt water. Molten salts don’t degrade and they don’t attack the materials around them. That means we can run the reactor at low pressure. We’re talking about the pressure inside a soccer ball, probably less than the pressure inside the water pipes in your house. We know how to make very safe equipment that operates at those low pressures and high temperatures.

Molten Fluoride Salt

In the LFTR design, the fuel is liquid and the moderator is solid. That is the opposite design approach that we use in old nuclear reactors.

A moderator is the catalyst that makes nuclear fuel react. You can take all the fuel-salt you want, push it into a pile, and it won’t sustain a nuclear chain reaction. It is as if the gasoline in your car could only burn inside the engine, but not anywhere else. That would be a nice safety feature to have in your car, and we have it in a LFTR powerplant.

Let me turn around that question about cars. Would you want to drive a car that had to carry a years’ worth of fuel? How about a year’s worth of exhaust! That is the way we build nuclear plants today, but we shouldn’t. The LFTR design adds fuel and can take out the nuclear waste a little at a time. That makes sense since the original LFTR was designed by a chemical engineer. Continuous fueling and cleanup also makes the reactor safer.

What is walk away safe?
You might have heard about the nuclear plants we have today where an accident melted the core of the reactor. That’s bad. The LFTR has a liquid fuel and coolant. When you want to shut the plant down and go home for the weekend, you simply drain the fuel out of the reactor tank. That leaves the moderator sitting there all by itself.

The guys who first designed this reactor put a fan, an air blower, next to the drain line under the reactor. That fan cooled the drain pipe and froze a plug of salt in the pipe. If they lost power at the test site, then the cooling fan stopped turning. The drainpipe heated up and the fuel drained down into a storage tank. The nuclear reaction stopped and the fuel cooled off. The guys running that test reactor shut it down that way every Friday afternoon for years. Come Monday morning, they had to heat the fuel back up so they could pump it back into the reactor.

It is nice to have a safety system powered by gravity. Every one of the proposed LFTR designs I’ve seen has kept that original passive safety feature of an air-cooled plug of frozen salt.

What is this Thorium-Uranium slight-of-hand?
I talked about both thorium and uranium. This is getting a little geeky, so I don’t want to spend a lot of time on it. Thorium and uranium are two different elements. The reactor uses uranium to make power. It also uses uranium to convert more thorium into uranium. That is an interesting trick called a unity breeding.

This process isn’t pure. Chemical and nuclear processes have side reactions. There are small traces of other uranium isotopes in the mix. We didn’t design the process to be slightly contaminated that way, but it happens about 1 percent of the time. That turns out to be a good thing. The contaminant is radioactive. That is the reason you don’t want to make a bomb using a LFTR reactor.

A touch of reality is worth a pound of theory when it comes to nuclear power. There are less radioactive ways to build a bomb. That is crucial.

A nuclear bomb isn’t very radioactive before it explodes. Adding even a little bit of radioactivity means the bomb is much harder to design and build. If you add much radioactivity at all, then building a bomb from that material becomes impossible. I didn’t say it was harder. I said the bomb won’t work because the materials are significantly radioactive and you can’t get the reaction you need for a bomb. It is important to know what you know, and what you don’t know.

What does a liquid fluoride thorium reactor look like?
These pictures are pieces of a molten salt reactor. On the left, those long strips of graphite running up and down are the moderator that causes the nuclear reaction. The graphite slows the neutrons down in the reactor and that makes the neutrons thousands of times more reactive with the uranium in the liquid fuel. They produced about ten thousand horsepower from a core that was four-and-a-half feet in diameter and about six feet long.

They needed to cool this test reactor so they ran hot salt through some cooling coils. The image on the right is the cooling coils glowing orange-hot as a fan blows air across them.

Here is the old design and the contemporary design that I like. I like small plants where you build the pieces of the powerplant in a factory. You ship pre-assembled pieces by truck to a worksite where you bolt the modules together. That is more like the way we build a modular home. That also means we can pick up most of the reactor and take it with us if the state or county changes the contract we had. What do you think would happen if a utility could take back their powerplant when the government raised taxes?

We’ll give you power, but we’ll take the powerplant back if you break your side of the bargain. That is one reason that government officials hate the idea of small power plants. They won’t license them because they can’t hold them hostage.

Turbine designers get excited when you tell them you have a source of heat at over 1500 degrees Fahrenheit. That high temperature lets power-engineers achieve high thermal efficiency. These nuclear plants can rival the efficiency of the best powerplants we run today. The power turbine gets to be about a meter in length, and that is amazing to me.

What does the future hold for modern nuclear plants?
The US Department of Energy was created by President Jimmy Carter to make the United States energy independent. It failed, but a bunch of guys in west Texas made the USA energy independent with fracking. Biden just put a regulatory hold on energy exploration and fracking.

Now, we have to get the US DoE out of the way. Rather than bring us solutions, the Department of Energy tells us what we can’t do. A prototype LFTR reactor can’t be over 1300 horsepower. It turns out that the optimal size for a prototype is about twice that size. Sorry, but that does not compute if you’re a government bureaucrat.

Other countries are exploring these new reactors. China has a very aggressive program to build a LFTR, in particular the China Academy of Sciences. We gave China every government document we had and Chinese scientists had open access to the people who built the molten salt reactor at Oak Ridge National Lab in Tennessee. Chinese scientists designed their own Thorium molten salt reactor. We don’t know if they are building sub-scale parts, sub-assemblies, or full-scale prototypes.

Why is China interested? China starts a new coal power plant every four days. They have a pollution problem and they want electric cars. They don’t want to pay other countries for coal.

There is also LFTR research reactor in Holland and some research underway in Canada. These are subscale tests to refine the fuel processing cycle.

We have designs ready for prototyping here in the US, but you can’t license the LFTR without paying the government so it understands how to regulate the design. That is a very risky investment since the political administration in this country changes every four years or so.

For political reasons, we will watch from the sidelines until another country shows us that modern designs work and are safe.

For a review, here are some of the points we covered today-

  • Are you clear about what you know?
  • Is an expansive and confident statement more trustworthy than a qualified claim?
  • Are you radioactive?
  • When are most nuclear fuels safe and when are they dangerous?
  • Where does the energy we use today come from?
  • Are the materials in your body common in our sun?
  • Do we have “enough” energy to run the world?
  • Does industrial society save lives, or is pre-industrial society safer?
  • Is nuclear power safe for the environment when compared to other sources of energy?
  • Do politicians make fully informed decisions in the public interest?
  • Based on the evidence presented, do you care about the future of our society more than politicians care?

Hint- Simple yes/no answers are almost always wrong because they don’t define the conditions under which the answer is accurate.

I gave you 7000 words. If you found them interesting, then please share them with a friend. RM

Complex Lies and Simple Truths

February 23, 2021

Life is complex. Sure, in the time of Covid you can tell everyone to stay home and starve, but they won’t do it. They won’t do it even though you’re emperor Cuomo of New York. Even with all your wealth and political influence, you can’t make people lay down and obey. They act for themselves, and soon they think for themselves.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 22: Visitors to Times Square wear masks during the fourth phase of the coronavirus reopening in Manhattan on September 22, 2020 in New York, New York. The fourth phase allows outdoor arts and entertainment, sporting events without fans and media production. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)

Ordinary people are frightened by what they see around them. Of course you can order gun stores to close by saying they are non-essential businesses, but criminals already have their guns. The thugs can always get more guns off the street. Crime goes on, and goes up.

You let convicted criminals out of jail due to Covid. Crime increases. Of course, Governor Cuomo and the media act surprised. You let criminals back on the street due to bail reform, and crime goes up some more. The murder rate increases, and you blame the police. Murders go unsolved, and crime goes up.

You stop the application process for citizens getting their concealed carry permits. You say it is for public health. You say you can’t allow person-to-person contact due to Covid. And again, the rate of street crime jumps. Carjackings nearly double.

The simple truth is that our politicians have a lot of power. It is clear that the media can sell us a lot of spin disguised as news. It is equally clear that the lies only sound plausible for so long.

Eventually the unsolved problems grow and the truth emerges for all to see. We ask ourselves the questions the media ignored. We learn that even the most powerful politicians can’t keep us safe. Again, the simple truth breaks through the woven veil of lies. Now, both the politicians and their media supporters look dishonest with their long strings of broken promises.

For us, that is a mixed blessing. The politicians and the media can make excuses, but we can’t. We can’t pretend that politicians will fix the problems of public violence now that we know how dishonest they are. Now, our safety is up to us.

That shouldn’t come as a surprise. Half of the adults in the US have a firearm. About one-in-ten adults have their carry permits or live in a state where they don’t need a permit to carry a concealed firearm in public. These people are just like us.

One-in-ten adults

There are tens-of-millions of honest gun owners who picked up the responsibility to protect themselves and their family. These ordinary people carry that responsibility with them every day. You walk past them in the store and as you walk down the street.

Crime is increasing. Are you depending on someone else to keep you safe until the police arrive? Concealed carry is simple, but it isn’t easy. Tens of millions of us decided we didn’t have time to wait.

I gave you 400 words. Please share them with a friend.

Understanding Electric Power and Power Outages- Texas Edition Winter 2021

February 22, 2021

Texas put millions of people in the dark. There is a lot we can learn so we don’t do that again. Some of the lessons are obvious, and some are subtle. Here are a few of the key ideas. The blackouts of mid-February showed us that not all powerplants are the same. Electrical power source have important differences. The users of electricity have important differences too. Also, the energy we use has to come from somewhere every second. The supply and demand for power will match or the grid will collapse.

Typical changes in electrical demand

This cold snap wasn’t a surprise. Utility operators saw the cold weather coming. This wasn’t a localized phenomenon affecting a small area either. There were projected record low temperatures forecast over several states and parts of Mexico. That made it hard to get power from one region and send it to anther. Everyone was facing the same situation. We were all running our gas heaters, our electric space-heaters, and our fans.

The demand for energy is never constant. It varies from month to month, day to day, and even second to second. You have heard and seen it yourself if you’ve run a generator to power your home during an emergency. We think we are only running one light as we try to conserve power. Then, the inside of our refrigerator heats up a fraction of a degree and the refrigerator turns on automatically. We forget that our laptop and cell phone chargers are drawing power. Our electric water heater cycles on or our well pump turns on, and suddenly the load is too large. Our generator trips its circuit breaker.

Poof. We’re sitting in the dark. On average, we might have had enough power to run our home, but we didn’t have enough power when a number of variable loads turned on at the same time. Utility operators have the same problem on a vastly larger scale.

The load changes from second to second, and we can only make so much power. To make things more complicated, we can only transport so much power from region to region. Some powerplants run at an even power output. Some powerplants cycle up and down to accommodate the uneven demand. Other powerplants come on and off rapidly to keep the grid stable as the power supply fluctuates. Yes, wind and solar power fluctuate up and down each second and they need conventional generators that can make up the difference at a moment’s notice. Even solar and wind are regulated by the grid rather than being self-regulating as they match frequency, voltage, and phase. Supply has to meet demand, everywhere and at all times. That is easy to say, but hard to do.

That is why we don’t count on solar power to meet our electrical demand. The peak demand might come at night, on a cloudy day, or on a morning when the solar panels are covered with ice and snow. We can’t count on wind power either. The peak demand might come when the wind is still or come after a winter storm when the wind turbine blades are covered in ice.

Removing ice from turbine blades. Image from

It might seem that wind and solar are “free” but they aren’t really free at all. At best, they can cut the fuel bill from existing generators a few days of the year. We can’t count on them.. ever. Well, we could depend on wind and solar to give us electricity, but depending on power we don’t have means we’re going to sit in the dark. I was without power and I didn’t like it.

Utility operators have a pretty good idea of how much power they will need. They look ahead at the weather and ask major industries to cut back their power use during peak demand. You and I do this as well when we don’t run our clothes dryer at 2 in the afternoon on a hot day when everyone is running their air-conditioner. That only takes us so far in reducing our demand for power.

Operators reduce the peak demand to keep from crashing the entire power grid. They can’t overload powerplants. They can’t overload electric lines as they try to balance power demand in one area and power supply in another. The coal, gas, and nuclear plants provide stability for the entire utility network. Utility operators drop part of the load so their powerplants don’t trip and go offline.

That means a few thousand of us at a time are without power in each city. That is what operators are supposed to do, but they didn’t. A few major powerplants tripped offline as the demand for power in Texas grew too large. That was a mistake. The reduced supply dropped hundreds of thousands of us into the dark. It can take days to get a major powerplant started. Fortunately, these plants came back online quickly as operators realized their mistake.

Running a power grid isn’t as easy as it seems. We think we want to drop industries so we can heat homes. We think we want to drop power in rural areas and keep power on in the cities where lots of people live. Reality is more complicated than that.

Our cities depend on industry and rural areas. Texas utility operators dropped power to some major oil and gas producing regions. That knocked natural gas pumping stations off-line. The pumping stations were not electric, but the communications and monitoring equipment in the pumping stations depended on utility power. Maybe the valves and lubrication systems used utility power as well. Shutting down those pumping stations reduced natural gas supplies during a cold snap. Even your gas furnace needs electrical power to run. Some of your natural gas fired generators certainly do.

Maybe those pumping stations should provide their own electricity and be power independent. They could, but at a cost. Money spent on providing greater reliability is money that isn’t spent on finding new supplies of natural gas. Adding electrical generators to these pumping stations will cost money and the price we pay for natural gas will go up.

We traded low cost for reliability. In hindsight, it might have been a good idea most of the time, but it was a bad deal on a February night in 2021. Most of us would gladly have spent a little more every day to keep the lights on at night.

We will have cold weather. Operators will make mistakes. We can, and we should, plan for both. Of course, we don’t have to think ahead. We don’t have to invest in reliable energy, but that leaves us sitting in the dark. If you’ve tried it, then tell me how it felt.

I gave you 1000 words. Please share them with a friend who needs them. RM

Firearm Type and Number: Examining Differences among Firearm Owning Suicide Decedents: Archives of Suicide Research: Vol 0, No 0

February 21, 2021

Guns are used in suicide, but owning more guns reduced the rate of suicide. The number of guns isn’t a substitute for measuring wealth since the rich are more prone to suicide than the poor. RM

Source: Firearm Type and Number: Examining Differences among Firearm Owning Suicide Decedents: Archives of Suicide Research: Vol 0, No 0

Florida Appeals Court Rejects Challenge To Armed School ‘Guardians’ – CBS Miami

February 20, 2021

Yes, legislation means what it says- RM

“A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal upheld a Duval County circuit judge’s ruling that lawmakers had authorized (school) guardians, who are not law-enforcement officers, to carry guns to bolster school safety. (snip)

“The appeals court detailed changes the Legislature made in the school-safety law that pointed to an intent to create an exception for school guardians from the prohibition on (non law enforcement officers) being armed (at school).

Source: Florida Appeals Court Rejects Challenge To Armed School ‘Guardians’ – CBS Miami

The Dangerous Audacity of President Donald Trump

February 19, 2021

I was sitting in the dark and cold. A cold front pushed south to the Gulf of Mexico. Temperatures dropped below freezing. The power is out and we’re huddled around a fireplace to keep warm. It is a good time to think. I was both counting my blessings and thinking about the deliberate lies I’ve heard from the news media. I was thinking about President Trump and what he accomplished.

Trump deregulated our economy. He knew the incredible burden the regulatory-state put on businesses. Our legislators had allowed executive branch agencies to write their own regulations that implemented legislation. The resulting regulations were not carefully reviewed to see if they delivered the original legislative intent. In practice, the bureaucrats could write their own ticket. Rather than ensuring a free and fair market, the bureaucrats wrote themselves into the economy. Nothing happened without their approval and control.

Trump “reinterpreted” that legislation. He proposed a minimalist rather than an expansive view of government control. Predictably, the economy roared back to life. That threatened the existing political structure and the Deep State.

The reason is obvious. Young black men in our inner cities went back to work. It wasn’t a government funded welfare program that gave them jobs, but rather the deliberate removal of impediments that had kept young black men in our inner cities unemployed. Young black men, and then young black women, didn’t need a welfare state once they had a job and were in control of their future.

Everything changed for them. They could accumulate wealth. They could buy a car and a house. They could form families. Trump did what others had promised for decades. He delivered on the well-worn political promise of improving the lives of the poor. That was politically dangerous. The most dangerous thing was that young minority men and women had choices. Now, they could move to other cities and states that offered them a brighter future.

That terrified both Democrat politicians and the government unions that controlled them. Trump had to be stopped at all costs or he would topple the political status quo. Big government democrats were going to lose wealth and political power once people could simply walk away from them and rebuild their lives. Fortunately for the Socialists, Covid restrictions slammed urban minorities back into poverty.

President Trump did something even worse. Trump “reinterpreted” energy regulations. Domestic energy supplies expanded and prices fell. That both slashed our dependence on foreign oil, and we went “green”. The United States was the only major industrial country to reduce its footprint of greenhouse gasses. The political elites were shocked that we did that with a growing economy rather than by shrinking our civilization and reducing our population. We substituted natural gas for coal and oil. That frightened a number of political factions.

The greens were afraid that people would recognize success. Despite what we’ve been told, we could both reduce our environmental impact and have a vibrant economy. The greens feared that we would reject they keystone beliefs of deindustrialization and population control. A lot of politicians depended on political donations and in-kind campaign contributions from the environmental lobby to stay in office. If you doubt, then please consider that one of Biden’s first executive orders was to freeze energy development on federal lands and to put a regulatory freeze on fracking. Progress was first frozen and then rolled back. The status quo was reassured.

I was thinking about that while I sat in the dark. Windmills and solar panels are frozen in ice. Millions of my neighbors are without power. Many are without water. Stores are empty and closed. Fires rage out of control because the fire department doesn’t have water to fight the flames.

Be careful what you wish for. I know civilization is fragile. I know that rules matter. I also know that life is good, and can be better.

Be skeptical of someone who tells you otherwise.

I gave you 600 words. Share them with a friend who needs them. RM

Environmentalists have made us dependent on other nations for all the most important natural resources

February 17, 2021

I’ve talked to the mine owners and Miguel is right. We did this to ourselves when the EPA thoughtlessly outlawed the mining of rare earth materials. RM

“There are rare earths in the United States.  We just don’t mine or refine them because the environmentalists shit a brick whenever someone tries to mine in the US.

“This is functionally no different than what they did with oil, shutting down our production forcing us to buy from Middle Eastern nations that hate us. We need domestic rare earth mining but the Left will not stand up to the environmentalists, we know that.”

Source: Environmentalists have made us dependent on other nations for all the most important natural resources

Thinking About Energy Policy in the Dark

February 16, 2021

Sitting in the the cold and the dark helps concentrate the mind. In theory, I knew this all along and all I had to do was look at the numbers. In fact, reality is more insightful than theory.

We are having rolling electrical blackouts on the gulf coast of Louisiana due to below freezing temperatures and the resulting high demand for electricity. That reminded me that the greens think we should shut down natural gas production and unplug nuclear power. They claim we can power a modern industrial society with solar and wind. Snicker.

After the last hurricane and this power outage, I think I need a large propane tank and a propane powered generator installed next to the house. I’ll pour the slab in the spring.

An Inconvenient Truth –

February 15, 2021

From my friend John Richardson talking about the failure of gun control laws and the murderer at Parkland, Florida three years ago. RM

The killer had no criminal record because of an arrangement between the Broward County school system and the sheriff’s office. This despite being expelled for bringing a weapon to school along with other run-ins that should have resulted in a criminal record.

As noted at the time by Max Eden in the City-Journal:
But the explicit aim of Broward’s new approach to school safety was to keep students like off the police’s radar. If the Sheriff’s department didn’t know about his deeply troubling behavior, perhaps it was because they were no longer supposed to know about it.

Source: An Inconvenient Truth –

The Lessons We Didn’t Learn from Mass Murder

February 15, 2021

February 14th is the third anniversary of the attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkwood, Florida. If you’re like me, it is uncomfortable to stir that painful memory. I’ve studied that attack because it would be worse to see it repeated simply because we didn’t learn a difficult lesson. You might not remember, but the attack at Columbine High School was almost 22 years ago. The attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School more than 8 years ago. That is plenty of time for us to act so our children are protected. I have an uncomfortable prediction about the next mass murder. The next attack will be at a place that politicians told us was safe because law-abiding people like us were disarmed. It is time we looked harder.

Gun control is the promise that ink on paper will protect our children. That isn’t a new idea. We’ve had gun control laws for over a century. Today, we have over twenty thousand firearms regulations, and we were told that each and every one of them was the essential step that would finally make us safe.

We’re told that honest civilians should be disarmed,
but the first thing we do at the sign of danger
is call someone with a gun.

We were told that mandatory background checks would keep crazy people from getting firearms. That claim assumes that the government is always doing its job. The government might disarm a million honest citizens who are no threat to anyone, but that doesn’t stop the damage done from allowing a single criminal to get a gun. We know what happens next.

We saw background checks fail when a crazy man attacked college students in a gun free zone in Isla Vista, California. Background checks failed when a crazy man attacked a prayer meeting in a gun free zone at the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Background checks failed when the murderer passed his background check despite being a prohibited individual and attacked the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Those are the clear examples where we knew the murderer was crazy or criminal before he attacked, and he passed his background check anyway.

The murderer at Parkland, Florida got a gun despite people contacting the FBI and saying the former student wanted to commit mass murder. Most of us recognize that as a significant clue.

If gun control depends on perfection then it is doomed to fail.

We can cite example after example where the murderer got his firearm without bothering with a background check. The murderer at Sandy Hook Elementary School murdered his mother to take her guns. The murderer at Red Lake, Minnesota murdered his grandfather, a tribal deputy, to take his firearms. The political leftists who tried to kill dozens of Republican legislators at a baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia was a prohibited person who took his guns illegally from his father.

It now takes over a year to get a carry permit in Detroit
while criminals get a gun in minutes on the street corner.
How will disarming more honest citizens make us safer?

Mass murder shocks us. In contrast, the news media barely reports the hundreds of people who are shot in our failed cities every week. If we’re going to talk about saving lives, then we have to look at the ordinary citizens who are the victims of violent crime every day.

Some politicians said we would be safer if law abiding good guys were disarmed. Is anyone surprised that their gun control laws left guns in the hands of criminals who break the law for a living? Drug gangs easily smuggle a few ounces of steel, brass and lead as they smuggle millions of people across the border, and smuggle thousands of tons of drugs each year. Are you surprised that prohibition doesn’t work? Prohibition also ignores the million times that honest citizens defend themselves each year. Gun prohibition only disarms the law abiding, and that hasn’t made our cities safer.

I want to clear up a possible misunderstanding. I’m convinced that gun control leaves us at risk. I know you might feel differently and I beg you to hear me out. I think gun control laws put our children in danger, but that isn’t because I’m different than you are; it is because I’ve seen things you might not have seen. I’ve looked into the eyes of the police officer who ran toward the sound of gunfire to save kids. That officer arrived too late. I’ve listened to a victim who was shot by a mass murderer and survived. They both begged us to keep the kids safe until the police arrived. That is exactly what the investigators said after the attack in Parkland, Florida.

It is time we listened.. before it is too late.

‘I looked at the video, and we could have stopped him if someone inside the school had a gun.’

Hint- The solution looks like this.

I gave you 800 words. Please share them with someone who can listen. RM

Home of Trump attorney Michael van der Veen is vandalized with graffiti branding him a ‘TRAITOR’ | Daily Mail Online

February 14, 2021

The left speaks of diversity.. so long as you agree with them. They speak of tolerance.. until you raise your voice. Then, they spray paint graffiti, break windows, and issue death threats.  RM

But hours earlier, vandals painted the word ‘Traitor’ in large red letters at the entrance to Van der Veen’s suburban Philadelphia home, with an arrow pointing to his house.

Source: Home of Trump attorney Michael van der Veen is vandalized with graffiti branding him a ‘TRAITOR’ | Daily Mail Online

Carry License Delays In Detroit Now Backed Up To 2022

February 11, 2021

And judges claim this is not an infringement. Then again, judges said this was a fair election. RM


The wait for concealed carry licenses in Wayne County, Michigan is now stretching into next year. In fact, FOX 2 in Detroit reports that folks in the city can’t even make an appointment to apply for their carry license until 2022, thanks to a backlog in applications and a slowdown on the part of the county in accepting them.

Source: Carry License Delays In Detroit Now Backed Up To 2022

Irony of the day winner- Judge Rejects Democrats’ Claims of Voting Machine Irregularities

February 8, 2021

I didn’t believe it until I saw it in print. RM

A judge in New York on Friday rejected Democrats’ claims that voting machine irregularities undercounted hundreds of votes for Rep. Ted Brindisi, a decision that means Republican challenger Claudia Tenney will be certified the winner of the election. Lawyers for Brindisi had called for a hand recount of the 325,000-plus votes cast in the House race, arguing that irregularities with voting machines used in Oswego County had undercounted hundreds or thousands of votes for Brindisi.

Source: Judge Rejects Democrats’ Claims of Voting Machine Irregularities

The Board of Supervisors of Maricopa County May Soon Face Arrest as Arizona Senate Fast Tracks Their Contempt Vote (Gateway Pundit)

February 7, 2021

Not a bad start. Jail people who enabled voter fraud. RM

From the Gateway Pundit- The Board of Supervisors in Maricopa County in Arizona are in a lot of trouble.  They can allow the Arizona Senate to review the voting machines and 2.1 million ballots that have been requested by the Senate, but if there is a material amount of fraud identified in this review, they could go to jail.

On the other hand, the Board of Supervisors can continue to stall and prevent any expert independent from their operations to review the machines and ballots, but this may put them all in jail even sooner.  They are really in a serious predicament.<clip>

By a 16-13 party-line vote, the Senate waived the usual process of full debates and committee hearings so that a vote could take place as soon as Monday on a proposal to take “all legal action” to enforce the subpoenas.

Source: The Board of Supervisors of Maricopa County May Soon Face Arrest as Arizona Senate Fast Tracks Their Contempt Vote

Walk-the-Talk-America Podcast with Jake and Mike

February 5, 2021

Thank you for having me on your podcast, Jake Wiskerchen and Mike Sodini. We’ll bring sanity to the mental health debate.

Walk the Talk America Podcast-

Walk the Talk America

Democrats File the First of Many Anti-Rights Bills Aimed at Honest Gun Owners

February 5, 2021

Democrat politicians said they wanted to disarm us. The Democrats didn’t wait long. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said President Biden would love to see action on gun control.

The President promised to act on day one on this issue. This is an issue he is personally committed to.

Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee filed two gun control bills, House resolutions 125 and 127. This is exactly what we expected from Democrat politicians.

Lee’s bill HR 127 requires-

  • the registration of all firearms and ammunition held by civilians.
  • bans .50 caliber ammunition.
  • requires a mental health exam for you, your spouse and your family, or at least two additional friends who can attest to your mental state.
  • requires that the government license those mental health professionals who can perform mental health exams for firearm ownership.
  • bans all ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.
  • establishes a national ammunition registry so the government knows what you own.
  • establishes a national firearm registry so that the government knows what you own.
  • mandates that gun owners purchase civil liability insurance.
  • taxes gun owners $800 each year.

Of course there are exceptions to all these requirements. They won’t apply if you’re a politician or paid by the government to carry a gun.

Representative Lee’s bill 125 calls for a 7 day waiting period before taking possession of a semi-automatic firearm, firearm muffler, ammunition, or magazine.. except if you are paid by the government. The bill also outlaws person to person transfers, except if you are paid by the government.

That was just a warmup. Now it really gets crazy as Representative Lee lists her justification for this bill.

Representative Lee claims-

  • There is nearly one mass shooting per day in the United States—355 mass shootings in 2015. Since December 2012, there have been at least 1,518 mass shootings, with at least 1,715 people killed and 6,089 wounded. (To reach those numbers you have to call the nightly carnage in Chicago and Baltimore “Mass Shootings”)
  • Each day, 92 Americans are victims of gun violence, resulting in more than 33,000 deaths annually. (We’re supposed to ignore that most of these are suicides and victims of drug gangs in our Democrat controlled cities.)
  • There have been zero mass shootings stopped by armed civilians in the past 33 years.

This is a press release rather than a factual document. It is against the law for us to lie during sworn congressional testimony. Evidently, it is allowed for congresswomen to present falsehoods as facts.

Let me refresh your memory. Remember that almost all of our mass murders were in “gun-free” zones where honest citizens were disarmed.  FBI’s own numbers showed that there were at least eight mass murders stopped by civilians. I’ve counted over a dozen.

Let me remind you of a few of these incidents. Think back to the armed citizen, Stephen Willeford, who lived next door to a church in Texas. He stopped mass murder with his AR-15 rifle. Remember Jack Wilson who was part of a church security team and stopped a murderer in his church. Remember the armed citizen who stopped mass murder at a California synagogue.

We know that the number of people murdered when an armed civilian is present is fewer than 3. That number soars to about 15 when we wait for the police to arrive. Time is the enemy, not your honest neighbor next door who owns a gun. Exposing Representative Lee’s lies is as easy as researching our history.

Distracting ourselves with Lee’s outrageous lies misses a critical point. Honest US citizens defend themselves by the thousands every day. Our best estimates is that honest gun owners use a firearm to prevent a murder or violent crime over a million times each year. If it was you saving your family at night, then each event might save several lives. That estimate includes tens-of-thousands of sexual assaults that never became a rape. When we disarm the good guys and gals, then millions of our neighbors become victims of violent crime.

Honest US citizens defend themselves by the thousands every day.

Disarm her, and grandma doesn’t chase away a home invasion robber. Instead, the robber beats grandma. The co-eds don’t stop the sexual assault by an intruder in their home. Instead, they get raped and beaten.  That is what Representative Lee wants. Democrats need violence to justify a police state.

This isn’t progress towards greater human rights and freedoms. This is a return to feudal barbarism where the strong rule the weak and ordinary citizens are disarmed. Back then, only the rulers and their henchmen were allowed to own weapons and bear arms.. for their protection, not ours. That is what we see from politicians today.

Their version of gun-control

We don’t have government agents protecting us. We don’t hire teams of armed security. Until help arrives, it is up to us to protect the people we love.

The mainstream media will echo Lee’s lies. It is up to us to spread the truth.

I gave you 800 words. Please share them with a friend.

RM Sources- “

Minimum Standard for Fair and Honest Elections — Kootenai County GOP

February 5, 2021

This is worth reading. I trust you more than I trust politicians in Washington D.C. RM

Read the 14 requirements for a fair election here-
Minimum Standard for Fair and Honest Elections — Kootenai County GOP

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