The politicization of dairy.

Have you ever come across something that was so incredibly ignorant that you can’t just wonder how the hell some people remember to breathe? I did.

But first, lets talk about lactose. Lactose is a  disaccharide, or a sugar that can be broken into two sugars by cutting one covalent bond. There are lots of disaccharides in nature and you may have heard of idiots claiming that fructose is the devil and cause of all sorts of things from obesity to autism.

Getting back to lactose, there are populations of people who persistently generate an enzyme called “lactase” which cuts the covalent bond bond that keeps lactose together and releases the to monosaccarides which your body can effectively metabolize.  All mammals produce milk, and all mammal milk that I know of contains lactose, as a result all nursing mammals produce a lactase enzyme which allows the covalent bond to be cut producing glucose and galactose.

Now for years there has been this idea that northern Europeans and Scandinavians in particular are “lactose tolerant” or “lactose persistent” because the long, cold winters gave the people with persistent lactase production a fitness advantage which passed on in the form of genes. This is a fine hypothesis, but no one knows if it is true or not because there is no way to test it. Unfortunately, this has led people to assume that this fairy tale is true, and speculate that this is why darker people such as southern Europeans, Turks, Arabs, and Africans are not “lactose tolerant.” Really, that’s bullshit.

What research has been done in looking at the genetic causes of persistent lactase production has led to a fairly obvious conclusion, the adoption of domesticated ruminants is associated with lactase persistence. From the Tutsi people of Rwanda to various herding tribes in Ethiopia, there are various genes across Africa associated with tribes that herd ruminants.

Links:
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF01844941
https://www.cell.com/ajhg/fulltext/S0002-9297(13)00326-1
https://www.cell.com/ajhg/fulltext/S0002-9297(14)00067-6

While the detail on this map isn’t perfect, it does give a fairly good overview of how different populations evolved over time to have a measurably different rate of lactose persistence.

Please note the very dark blue spot in southeastern Africa, it’s not a mistake, it’s just a tribe that has been herding cattle for long enough to have a high level of homogeneity.

What you should really take away is that you will find people of every shade and eye shape who are both lactose tolerant and intolerant as adults. What you will also find is that there will be way more White people than Asian people who are lactose persistent as adults, with subcontinental Indians and Pakistanis being able to tolerate fresh dairy very well from a statistical standpoint.

Now even in an area with low lactose persistence you can often find dairying culture because turning milk into cheese is a great way to remove much of the lactose and retain the fat, proteins, and mineral nutrition of the dairy product. While “byaslag” may sound like a spell inredient cooked up by J.K. Rowling for a potion it is a Mongolian soft cheese that can be sliced into strips and dried, similar to Paneer which is Indian.

So…why did we have to go on a little side trip about genetics and lactose tolerance?

VeganIdiot

This shit right here is why I have no faith in public education. She can evidently call herself literate, and write well enough to express her ignorant opinion, but damn if that doesn’t illustrate the problem of bullshit. It took me a whole post of facts and history to refute one ignorant sentence, that got over 3k likes and 1k retwteets.

But hell, there are enough academic idiots writing papers like “The Unbearable Whiteness of Milk: Food Oppression and the USDA” by Andrea Freeman who “pioneered” the entire concept of “food oppression” (seriously, it’s listed on her bio page) and continues to make the illogical fallacy that different outcomes is oppression. It is quite logical that every large nation is going to have pockets of citizens who don’t benefit equally from national policy. Just ask the Basques, or the Saami, or the Aborigines. Law is like economics in that it doesn’t benefit everyone equally. But if you look at migration patterns, there are more black Africans trying to get into America than black Americans trying to migrate to Africa. Heck, Andrea Freeman criticized Federal subsidies into milk as it gives kids too much saturated fat, which should tell you a lot about how being a lawyer and college professor does not prepare you at all to talk about fat metabolism or nutrition.

But you know what? with idiots like this no wonder the trolls can get them riled up by drinking a glass of milk. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/milk-white-supremacy-racism_us_5bffad35e4b0864f4f6a3e28

And that makes me want to go enjoy a cool glass of genocide.

 

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Statistics, what the hell is going on with the African American homicide rate?

One of the most interesting things I’ve found is that simultaneously the “death by gun” rate for African Americans and the “homicide rate” for African Americans can be summed up at the same number. I say “interesting” because anyone who is in the business of meaninful statistical analysis will tell you, “interesting” isn’t always a good thing. Interesting can be a random artifact in the data, or it can represent cherrypicking by someone presenting a paper or a pitch, or it can be a case of “garbage in/garbage out” data collection.

The Henry James Kaiser foundation puts the black “gun death” rate at 21.6 when averaged nationally. https://www.kff.org/other/state-indicator/firearms-death-rate-by-raceethnicity/?currentTimeframe=0&selectedDistributions=white–black&selectedRows=%7B%22wrapups%22:%7B%22united-states%22:%7B%7D%7D%7D&sortModel=%7B%22colId%22:%22Location%22,%22sort%22:%22asc%22%7D

The CDC put the homicide rate for blacks at 20.9 when averaged nationally. https://www.acsh.org/news/2017/08/10/african-american-homicide-rate-nearly-quadruple-national-average-11680

And yet, we know that African Americans do have a suicide rate that is statistically significant: https://www.acsh.org/news/2018/04/19/suicides-outnumber-murders-6-1-whites-murders-outnumber-suicides-35-1-blacks-12861

But…lets put these numbers to the test. As of Wikipedia there are 37,144,530 African Americans in the US. If the murder rate for African Americans is 20.9 per 100,000 then total population divided by 100,000 multiplied by 20.9 should equal about the total number of African American Homicide victims in the US. So by that math, there should have been around 7,764 African Americans murdered in the US.

A query of the FBI database shoes 8,999 African American victims of homicide in 2016, so that number is “close enough for government work.” I think. Not too far outside the norms really, but even the 21.6 per 100k number would only put the estimate at 8,024 which is below the number recorded by the FBI. Using 8,999 homicides with 37,144530 total population would put the homicide rate at 24.2 per 100k.

So we have a situation where the officially recorded victims of homicide by race is less than half of the calculated rate per 100,000. We also have a claim that whites are six times more likely die by suicide than homicide, and blacks are 3.5 times more like to die by homicide than suicide. And yet we know that half of suicides in the US are by firearm: https://afsp.org/about-suicide/suicide-statistics/ so how can the “death by gun” be only one percentage point different than the overall homicide rate for African Americans? If African Americans have a 5 per 100k number, that should be 2.5 per 100k on the “death by gun” statistic…

So what the hell is going on? If total homicide rate is 24.2 per 100k, and the observed suicide rate is 5 per 100k, then the combined homicide&suicide rate for African Americans should be around 29.4 per 100k.

But wait, the CDC did a study based on death certificates and found the following:

The study involved death-certificate data on homicides and suicides among non-Hispanic black and white men across the United States between 2008 and 2016. The data came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Wide-ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research database.

The researchers computed the average annual death rate among the men according to race, intent (such as homicide or suicide) and firearm involvement. They also calculated any inequalities in those age-adjusted rates between the two groups. In total, their analysis included 84,113 homicides and 251,772 suicides.

Compared with white men, the researchers found that black men experienced 27 more firearm homicides per 100,000 people annually nationwide (29.12 for black men vs. 2.1 for white men). The states with the highest rates of firearm homicide among black men in the data — namely Missouri, Michigan, Illinois and Indiana — also had the largest disparities between blacks and whites, the researchers found.

Great, now we’ve got an 8% disparity between the 20.9 and 29.12 annual homicide rate per African Americans without even taking suicides into account. What is really interesting about the CDC study is that the four states with the highest homicide rate were not in the “deep south” but contiguous with Illinois, and centering around Chicago, St. Louis, Indianapolis, and Detroit.

I don’t really have any deep insight as to why these numbers aren’t even remotely adding up other than police reports don’t always add up with the death certificate reports, not all law enforcement agencies submit reports, and death certificates by race for Chicago, Illinois are going to be a lot different than Bismark, North Dakota. What this means is that the variation in sampling methods is creating variation in the output, so it seems to be a case of “garbage in/garbage out” in terms of being able to identify any meaningful trends.

What I am willing to conclude isn’t earth shattering, as no matter which data set you choose to use, being an urban black male is associated with a much higher risk of being a victim of homicide than any other demographic in the United States. Ironically New York with it’s “stop and frisk” policy showed up as one of the most “black friendly” states with a black homicide rate of 8 per 100k which seems significantly below the national average, and well below the average for other states with major urban centers. New Jersey came in at 17 and change per 100k, so maybe giving up some civil liberties for security and being choked to death for selling untaxed cigarettes is the a winning strategy for New Yorkers. Similar policies do not seem to be working in Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, or Indianapolis.

As a “data guy” it is always important for me to see someone talk about their confidence intervals, as had those been listed we may have seen much less disparity as the primary researchers 29.12 per 100k number might have been explained away by a large error bar, or low confidence window. Much like the old saw that African Americans died disproportionately in Vietnam (they didn’t, not by any meaningful analysis of US casualties in Vietnam) a look at the data can determine whether a claim has validity or not.

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Man, bear, cliff, gun. Variations on a theme.

There is a theme of a bear, on a cliff trail, meeting a hunter with rugged snow capped mountains in the background, that has caught on in the firearms world. Sometimes you’ll see it for the made up brand of Lester’s Ammunition, other times for the real brand of Jarrett Rifles (and they make a fine rifle).

JARRETT-BEAR_ad_sm5x7_Ed

Copyright Jarrett Rifles.

This theme, of a human, a bear and a cliff trail started out back in the 1900s with an artist by the name of Philip Goodwin. Much like the more recognized names of Frederick Remington or Charles Russell who glamorized an idealized version of western life, Philip Goodwin (a friend of Russell’s) found commercial success as an illustrator of outdoor themed publications from the “Call of the Wild” to Teddy Roosevelt’s “African Game Trails” and his art translated well to selling products by Winchester, Marlin, and Remington Firearms. Philip Goodwin also designed the Winchester “running pony” trademark that has endured the test of time.

In a time when radio was the next big thing, and the United States was still sparsely populated by today’s standards, being an avid outdoors-man was relatively cheap recreation for many Americans. Additionally the protein brought back from hunting and fishing was something many Americans going through the Great Depression found necessary for feeding a family. So it became natural that the myths of rugged Americans from fur trappers to cowboys became part of the nostalgia of the time. It made sense that consumers would willingly buy into the idea of the old west as a time of adventure and opportunity, rather than backbreaking labor and heavy risk.

lester-s-ammunition-hunting-ammo_u-L-F5B6B20

On a somewhat related side note, the movie poster painters of India were replaced by digital artists and industrial printers many people lamented the change of style and how the old ways represented the “glory days” of Indian film advertising. Sometimes a stye of art just defines a generation.

Modern firearm and ammunition manufacturing has largely gone to photograph and Photoshop for their advertising needs. Much like the India movie poster scene.

So throwbacks like Lesters Ammunition and Jarrett Rifles harken back to the days when consumers were harkening back to a mythical western existence during the hardscrabble days of the Great Depression. Essentially it is nostalgia about nostalgia.

RemingtonAutoloadingRifle

As far as I can tell, the original use of Philip Goodwin’s “The Right of Way” to advertise a firearm was for the Remington AutoLoading Rifle. The “Remington AutoLoading Rifle” became a commercial reality in 1905, and was renamed the “Model 8” six years later in 1911. It has the unique distinction of being the first commercially successful semi-automatic rifle sold to the American public. Given that the Remington AutoLoading Rifle was designed by John Moses Browning himself, it isn’t a wonder as to why it was a commercial success.

Now the advertisement does reference the words “The Right of Way” which is the name of the original painting by Philip Goodwin, created only a few years before in 1902. While I wouldn’t recommend a 35 Remington as a Grizzly round, unloading an entire magazine of them from a Remington Model 8 into a Grizzly would either fix the problem or make it much worse, as the Lesters satirical poster shows. However the 35 Remington is a fine sporting round for normal hunting ranges out to a few hundred yards, a 200gr bullet at just over 2,000 fps is perfectly acceptable for cleanly harvesting big game, which is why of all other cartridges Remington offered for the Model 8, only the 35 Remington is still commercially loaded.

To understand why Remington would advertise “Big Enough for the Biggest Game” we need to look at contemporary competitin. In 1905, the 9.3×62 Mauser designed by Otto Bock in Germany was brand new, and the 375 Holland and Holland Magnum still a few years into the future. The 30-03 Government cartridge was definitely more powerful, but I know of no commercial hunting loads for it at that time. The lever action rifles familiar to sportsmen seeking a rapid second shot were mostly of similar power levels save for the 1895 Winchester (also designed by John Moses Browning) which could handle the big 405 Winchester, which was introduced in 1904 for that rifle.

WInchester_Bear_Cliff

The theme of a bear, cliff trail, and someone with a rifle has taken a few turns. Winchester used art that added a horse, and added dogs but subtracted the “someone with a rifle” and invited that missing element to be you.

The symbolism of a cliff trail is twofold. First, you can only go forward or back, limiting your options. When a bear is in front of you, snarling or grumpy, going forward is definitely a less attractive option. So the cliff trail properly conveys the decisiveness of the moment, options are limited, and violence is imminent. Only the Lesters satire and Winchester tracking dog variations break from the “impending action” to after action that happened to some other poor sucker and impending action should you choose to participate.

The second part of the cliff trail is the idea of ruggedness and remote wilderness. I know of no mountains east of the Mississippi river which are snow-capped year round, so a cliff with snow-capped mountains in the background has to be “out west.” This conveys a sense of wilderness, adventure, and calls back to the rugged individualism that the radio Westerns were imbuing into the public consciousness.WInchester_Bear_Dogs_Cliff

Whether or not hunting bear with dogs is ethical is beyond the realm of what I want to discuss in this blog post, but it should be clear that by the time the Winchester model 70 came on the scene in 1936 American consumers were well acquainted with the bear/cliff/man formula for selling firearms and ammunition. Thankfully the Model 70 advertisement is including the 30-06 cartridge, which is still a fine choice for a rifle that may need to take down a Grizzly.

To sum up this post, you could say that this is a prime example of an inter-generational meme, one that is at least 116 years old. Man, bear, cliff, gun.

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The Yellow Vest Protests in France

The French are rioting (again). This time over a fuel tax.

The Fishwrapper Of Record, the New York Times, has actually got some pretty accurate reporting on the situation that amazingly isn’t in awe of “European Socialism.” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/01/world/europe/france-yellow-vests-protests-macron.html

Some of the better quotes:

Multiple surveys of public opinion released in the past week suggest that 70 percent to 80 percent of French people sympathize with the Yellow Vests’ contention that President Emmanuel Macron and his government “talks about the end of the world while we are talking about the end of the month.”

and

The median disposable income for a person in a French household was 1,700 euros a month, about $1,923, in 2016, the most recent year for which statistics are available, according to Insee, the French government’s statistics agency.

Remember, the “median” is not the “average” the “median” describes where half of the population in the study fall above and below. For the record, 1923 Euros generally works out to 2,173 US Dollars as of today. Or 70 dollars a day per month of money that is not dedicated to food, housing, utilities, clothing, etc.

That doesn’t sound too bad, right? Well let me tell you a story about an American GI who was stationed in Italy, who decided to drive through France in his Ford Mustang over a 4 day weekend to experience some of the French Countryside. He forgot his ESSO card, and figured, “what the heck, how expensive can it be?” and found out the hard way. It cost him nearly 1,200 US Dollars to make the journey he had planned paying French prices. Had he remembered his ESSO card and been able to purchase fuel that way he would have saved over 900 dollars on his 4 day weekend. Driving around France, for one long weekend, ate up over half of the entire median disposable income for a single member of a household in France. Now some of that expense was the horribly unreasonable toll costs in France, as much as 103.80 Euro for one stretch. Now, at the time the Euro was very strong against the dollar, so he had an additional conversion factor working against him, but in the US 900 dollars of fuel in a Ford Mustang would get you from New York to L.A (2,790 miles). 2790 miles, divided by 19 miles per gallon = 147 gallons or 9.5 fill ups. 900 dollars divided by 147 gallons is 6.12 dollars per gallon. The average gas price in the US is 2.88 per gallon, so 423.66 US Dollar to get you from NY to LA (give or take, I used the national average rather than calculating state averages and where you would actually have to stop in a 2015 Mustange GT with 5.0 V8 engine and 6 speed manual).

Currently the price of petrol (aka gasoline) in France is between 1.40 and 1.60 Euro per liter. There are about 4 liters per gallon. Right now in Paris it would be 1.76 US Dollars per liter, or 7.04 US Dollars per gallon. That makes the 1.96 USD per gallon my wife filled my truck up with today a veritable bargain.

So I hope that explains the cost problem facing French citizens and residents. It’s really damn expensive to live like a middle class American in France, to save for retirement you need a middle class income and a poverty level lifestyle, and that really pisses people off because they see the fruits of their labor going to support needless parasitic social programs.

“You can’t govern against the people,” said François Bayrou, the leader of the Moderate Democrats, who are partners with Mr. Macron’s La Republique En Marche party in an interview on Europe 1.

Mr. Bayrou said he was not sure of the answer, but the government can’t keep “adding taxes on top of taxes.”

Remember back in 2006 when the Democrats took back Congress by running on a platform of fiscal responsibility? So do I, but as we’ve seen every party is a big spender, and the consequences of parasitic social programs ends up like France, where people are fed up with being sucked down into a poverty level existence. After all, government doesn’t spread the wealth, government always spreads the poverty. Look at a Native American Reservation to see American wealth redistribution in action. Look at Detroit, with decades of Democrat rule, all by the campaign promise of “tax the rich” and then the rich left for areas where they wouldn’t get fleeced.

 

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Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez

One of the worst mistakes that you can make in military terms is to “misunderestimate” your opponent, the situation, and the second and third order effects.

The election of 29 year old Boston University graduate (Economics and International Relations) Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez represents the rise of an incredibly astute woman in terms of political instincts. She took on the Democratic Caucus Leader, and won. She won with a 194,000 dollars against his 3.4 million dollar budget for the primaries.

How did she do it? She did the exact same thing that Trump did. Get people passionate enough to vote for her because she’s something different than the “status quo.” She successfully branded herself, for better or worse, as something other than just another Democrat.

Fox News has decided that they can’t talk about Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez enough, ridiculing her inability to plan ahead for her own financial needs, her inability to back up any of her claims with actual analysis or fact (despite her claim that the GOP tax cut could fund all student debt in the US, she didn’t explain how 1.5 trillion not taken in over a decade would pay for 1.5 trillion owed today). But it gets her screen time, and it shows other Leftists that Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez is a woman who pisses off the right, and by gum if she pisses off the right then she’s the woman for us!

Let me break it down Barney style.

Trump got elected for only two reasons. 1, he wasn’t Hillary. 2, he pissed off leftists.

Ocasio-Cortez got elected for only two reasons 1, She wasn’t Crowley. 2, she pisses off conservatives.

Trump dominates the news cycle by saying outrageous things which CNN ridicules.

Ocasio-Cortez dominates the news cycle by saying outrageous thing which Fox News ridicules.

Now I don’t know how Ocasio-Cortez is going to get along in the Democrat party. They threw out Joe Lieberman so the precedent is set that they can and will throw someone out for being “too centrist.” They never threw out Bernie Sanders, despite being way more Communist than Socialist, so I think that you can’t be “too far left” in the current Democratic party.

I knew that if we were going to win, the way that progressives win on an unapologetic message is by expanding the electorate. That’s the only way that we can win strategically. It’s not by rushing to the center. It’s not by trying to win spending all of our energy winning over those who have other opinions. It’s by expanding the electorate, speaking to those that feel disenchanted, dejected, cynical about our politics, and letting them know that we’re fighting for them. – Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez

So it is clear that so far, not compromising has been part of a winning strategy for her. It’s also been a winning strategy for Trump (and the rest of the Republicans seem to utterly hate him). Ocasio-Cortez has gone so far as to publically announce that she is looking to expand on her success by getting other radicals elected in “soft blue” districts:  https://www.democraticunderground.com/100211447916?fbclid=IwAR1xYoh13kg50npPU5Is4dxqWysZtj0C2arNrpM0b6VscqblhFixfGERwpI

I have no idea if the Dems will try to pull a coup and take their party back from the extremists, or if the solid wins of openly socialist politicians like Ocasio-Cortez will keep the ever leftward slide of the Dems on track. I do expect that she will either succeed wildly like Trump or fizzle spectacularly like Palin over a longer time span.

 

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Prepping versus Surviving

My friend recently sent out an email or two with some of his thoughts on the difference between “preppers” and “survivalists.” I thought long and hard about what he sent.

Being prepared, having stockpiled food, medicine, other sundry supplies on hand, will definitely get you through a “bump” in civilization disruption. Whether that’s an earthquake, a hurricane, or some man made disaster (although some man made disasters last longer than others as the Venezuelans are finding out).

Being a survivalist is a bit different, it means having both the knowledge and skills to meet your life sustaining requirements in really crappy situations. Compared to prepping, surviving is tough and uncomfortable. Surviving is a lot of hard work, while if prepping is done correctly, is a mere inconvenience.

I think that in any situation where prepping is insufficient (preparations run out and cannot be replaced) and surviving is required, you can expect mass starvation in the major cities, with an increased odds of some sort of pandemic as civilization level hygiene becomes “stone age” accommodations, and an increase in violence as people get desperate. We take a lot of things for granted that didn’t exist fifty years ago, one hundred years ago, or a thousand years ago.

But, if the “big one” does happen, and it’s global, odds are good that recovery won’t be quick. If it drags on long enough at some point, even the thousands upon thousands of rimfire ammo you stockpiled will run out if civilization doesn’t resume. Can you build a bow and make arrows? Can you farm, gather, fish, hunt, and preserve food? Can you do it without someone taking it from you?

I’m firmly in the “prepper” community, but honestly think that it is practically impossible for most preppers to become true survivalists. I believe this for several reasons.

  1. There isn’t the large expanse of untouched wilderness with large game animals who are mostly unaccustomed to being hunted by hunters with rifles. The large herds of plains bison are a thing of the past.
  2. The geographic distance between good farmland and most people is too much to support the large cities (in the US this is a real problem, in China it is an even bigger problem). So a WWII style “victory garden” is great, but only a drop in the bucket of large scale caloric needs.

Those two reasons essentially boil down to one single point, scarcity of resources. Modern civilization is based on technologies that make economies of scale happen that cannot happen at a more primitive technology state. Without modern nitrogen fixation based fertilizers a large portion of the world will starve inside of a few years as stocks on hand dwindle and cannot be replaced by “traditional, sustainable organic agriculture.” (I use the quotes to emphasize the stupidity of that phrase)

I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I do believe that a real large scale survivalist requirement is unlikely. But global disasters do happen, from coronal mass ejections to massive meteorite impact to even bio terrorism and plain old war and idiotic politics. I believe that the more people who are “preppers” the better, at least in terms of being prepared to handle a 2 week to 2 month emergency (Puerto Rico is still repairing stuff, but mostly life has found a new normal). I’m not an advocate for “doomsday prepping” as that is just normal prepping with a timespan of resiliency pushed out way further into the future.

So I don’t know how much time and effort you should put into learning stone lapping to make arrowheads versus stocking up on more ammunition for firearms you have, or buying more broad-heads to store as future insurance. I will say that it seems to be worth thinking about, especially skills like primitive medicine, trapping, and food preservation (smoking, drying, salt preserving, etc).

To sum up everything, I think my friend is right that the vast majority of preppers aren’t “survivalists.” I think that at this point getting more of them into a survivalist mindset would be smart, as it could really help them identify when a situation has degraded to where they need to transition to survivalism rather than ride out a disruption.

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The Trial

“Mr. Talifer, you have been charged with illegal manufacture of a firearm, manslaughter, and reckless disregard for human life, how do you plead?” The judge asked, her pleasant alto voice swallowed by the dark wood and padded benches in the courtroom.

“Not guilty your honor.” Sean Talifer replied, his Scotch-Irish red hair and pale skin standing out in the crowd of chocolate and mocha hued skin tones of the prosecutor, defense attorney, and all twelve jurors.

“Well that simplifies matters.” The judge nodded towards the prosecution’s desk. “Are you ready to proceed?”

“Yes your Honor.” Spoke the slightly balding Indian American attorney.

“Then begin.” The judge ordered.

The prosecutor opened up with a well rehearsed description of Sean Talifer’s life, how he got by on manual labor as a general handyman, doing everything from unlicensed plumbing to carpentry. How Sean Talifer began hunting small animals as a child, mainly squirrels and rabbits, before moving up to wild hog and deer. By the end of the tale some of the jurors were visibly sick. After ten minutes of describing how Sean Talifer used a dangerous weapon, a single shot break action rifle, to brutally slay wildlife, and then a six inch fighting knife to skin the carcass and cut the still warm flesh from the bones the prosecutor stopped talking and took his seat. How on occasion when his rifle stopped functioning Sean Talifer had taken tools from his toolbox and broke the law be performing firearms repair without a license which denied the state valuable tax dollars from licensed repairs, and then used that same illegally manufactured rifle to kill a home intruder. Clearly Sean Talifer exhibited a callous disregard for life, law, and the state saw no chance at rehabilitation.

One of the jurors dry heaved.

The defense attorney, a young African American woman from the public defenders office stood up, and began to talk.

“Gentlepeople of the jury, what you have heard is a gross mis-characterization of the truth, and Sean Talifer has broken no law. In fact the very law states that all traditions are permissible as long as they harm no other people. Throughout this trial you will learn how Sean Talifer’s actions, and lifestyle, are traditional and harm no one, no matter how unpleasant we may personally find them. Bigotry has no place in our legal system, and Sean Talifer is the victim of an overzealous prosecution.”

She then explained, in deep detail how the law allowed for defense of life in the home, how the “castle doctrine” was still the law of the land, and how Sean Talifer cooperated with law enforcement, how he acted without a depraved mind and was honestly shocked to find himself here in the courtroom, the last refuge of an innocent person. At the ten minute mark, she stopped speaking and took her seat.

The trial continued for two days. The rifle was brought in as evidence, the marring of the screws on the action clearly showed that they had been worked over with repair tools, and Sean Talifer could not produce any receipt of repair by a licensed gunsmith, nor produce a gunsmith to testify that they repaired the rifle. The coroner came in, explained how the person who intruded into Sean Talifer’s home died almost instantly as the cast lead bullet from the 30-30 rifle ripped through his heart and spinal column.

Finally, Sean stood and addressed the jury.

“Gentlepeople of the jury, I am a simple man. My family has been dirt farming up in that hollow for going on two centuries. My daddy worked the mill until it shut down, then he worked as a mechanic or blacksmith, or whatever else he could until he died of a heart attack fifteen years ago.” Sean’s voice cracked at the memory of his father’s passing.

“The prosecutor says I manufactured a firearm because once a firearm stops working it ain’t a firearm no more, just a lump of metal. That don’t seem right to me cause a pen don’t stop being a pen because it needs a refill of ink, or a book stops being a book just because it was written in a language you don’t read.” A few of the older women nodded their heads at that analogy.

“The state won’t let tell you about the man that done broke into my home, as he ain’t on trial here and I am. I can tell you that my sister and her two kids were behind me, and that I told him to stop and leave cause we didn’t want no trouble. But he didn’t stop, and he didn’t leave, and he held onto that big cooking knife like he was going to charge at me. I wish he hadn’t done that.”

“It’s true that I work as a handyman, and that I hunt for food. But we eat what I harvest, cause we can’t afford vat grown protein, and everything we can’t eat gets used somehow, either turned into soap or fertilizer. We use the fertilizer to grow a garden too, and sell some of that, and can the rest for the winter. My family ain’t got much, but we pay our taxes on time, and you’ve seen the letters that the pastor and the elders wrote about my character. You good people hold my future in your hands, so I ask you to listen to your conscience.”

Sean sat down, and the jury left the courtroom. Five hours later the jury unanimously found Sean guilty of manufacturing a firearm and reckless disregard of human life but not guilty of manslaughter as the incident was deemed lawful self defense with an illegally manufactured weapon. The judge sentenced him to five years of re-education at a camp in Wyoming. The first winter he was gone the state took his sister’s children, and sent her to a re-education camp in Oklahoma. Their family home was put up for auction to pay for the cost of re-education of the adults and the foster care costs for the children. A state Senator friend of the Judge won, and 137 acres of hills and valley became her second summer home.

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