Firearms Season With Rafe

Bowhunting is superior, in my mind, to hunting deer with firearms. Tranquility is the main distinguishing feature. When you carry a bow into the woods, you know it’s you and the woods, that is, the squirrels, the foxes, the autumn leaves, frosty breath, bright sunrise, and, hopefully, a meaty deer. Add for me the interesting and joyous experience of my good friend, Rafe.

Unfortunately for hunters and the deer population alike, Western New York experienced an unusually warm autumn due to the forces of the Super El Niño. When the temperatures are warm during the day, deer will not move, preferring to move about at night, when it’s a little cooler. Hunting regulations are quite clear: deer harvesting may occur only between sunrise and sunset. Therefore, very few deer are being harvested. Bow season came and went with a great deal of disappointment. Firearms season loomed.

So this year I was confronted by the necessity of carrying a firearm into the woods. On opening day of firearms season, many hunters are in the woods, most of us wary of the very few hunters who are eager to fire their guns at anything that moves. You can see why I normally avoid opening day, but that’s because it’s normally not essential to be out there (please don’t quote me the price of a pork roast per .lb like my wife does). This year, however, I found myself in Rafe’s barn before dawn, trying to remember how a gun works.

Rafe’s brother burst through the door, his usual, cheerful self. I turned, surprised, not knowing that he was coming out with us. “Hey, Gabe!” I said. Gabe has a personality just as big as his brother Rafe’s. They get it from their mother, who had four of them, boys, two on either side of a girl. She named all the boys after archangels: so there’s Gabriel, the oldest, Michael, Uriel, and the youngest, Raphael (yes, she got them out of order). She was a delightful lady, and she delighted in raising the boys to be her archangels, to watch over her and her precious daughter, Mary (I know, right?). So there is in this world a family of brothers: Gabe, Micheal, Uri, and Rafe, all big, strapping young men from a working class household.

A pump action shotgun gives such a wonderful sensation. It’s the sound you love to hear from the movie screen when the good guy finally corners the bad guy, followed by the quip, “Time to take out the trash,” or some such. When you hold one in your arms, that sound is a complete full-body experience, involving all the senses, plus one more, that one about which John Lennon sang ironically, but you know in your heart is actually the God’s-honest truth and you can’t wait to make yours warm.

Gabe hunts with a handgun, which makes him a real mensch. He let me handle it. It’s a Smith & Wesson Model 629, a Magnum .44 with a long barrel. I think it weighed as much as my Winchester shotgun.

The time came for us to enter the woods, so we made our firearms ready, sliding back the actions, loading shells, closing the actions, opening up tube magazines, and loading shells into them, each step in the process yielding a satisfying click. As for me, I always drop a shell, always, so it takes a little longer for me than for Rafe and Gabe, Gabe, by the way, who was being delighted with the rotating cylinder of his beautiful revolver. The noise of three guns being loaded was practically deafening.

“That’s why ISIS don’t attack America,” Gabe said. “Did you hear all that?”

“Ha,” I said. “If I were a good shot–and I’m not saying I am–I could kill four attackers before I would be overwhelmed by any survivors while I was reloading.”

“I can kill six,” said Gabe.

“I can kill eight,” said Rafe. “No, fourteen,” he added. “I’m carrying my revolver, too.”

So in a single round of fighting, the three of us could wipe out twenty-four attackers, as long as we were competent shooters and maintaining a concealed position for firing. It wouldn’t really work out that way, but the fantasy makes the point.

We didn’t see a single deer the entire opening day.


The Futility of Policy

If you are fan of anything sportsing, you know the anxiety of blown officiating calls, but lately, the agony of video replay has become unbearable, a system which satisfies only a vocal party within the sportsing community affectionately known as the “Get It Right Crowd” (GIRC). These nerds will rest at nothing to establish a policy or series of policies or layers of policies to somehow ensure sportsing fans that the sportsing officiating calls are regulated and correct, and corrected if they are not correct on the field.

The GIRC has at least accomplished hours and hours of interesting philoso-talk on Local Sports Talk Radio. Alas, the assumption is that officiating calls are always correctable.

In the sportsing called “The NFL” there is a boiling controversy over the application of the definition of a “football catch.” Now, to the casual observer, this may seem like a no-brainer. To wit: a receiver “catches” the “football.” That is a football catch.

But, no.  The policy, or “rulebook,” as it were, has a strict definition of what a “football catch” might actually be. It is a lengthy definition, with a main paragraph and many sub-paragraphs, each of which deal in minutiae, and each of which must be memorized by game officials, and which, in the rigors of a contact sportsing event, must be expertly and thoroughly applied at an instant.

Therefore, it has come to be expected that game officials apply the policy incorrectly. After all, they’re only human, and, in the NFL, they’re quasi-professional. Many millions of dollars hang on their competence, both in player salaries and in gambling money.

To resolve this given human propensity to actually err, a video replay system has been devised. It seems easy enough: if there is a question about the application of the policy, one simply projects a video of the play in question onto a large-screen, high-definition television set, and everyone has the luxury of studying the question from very many different angles at different speeds with as many repetitions as is desired, that is, until the officiating crew is satisfied that they have, indeed, the right application of the policy to the play in question.

In practice, however, there has been very little satisfaction within the sportsing community concerning this system to regulate and correct application of policy. The officials are making worse applications in the instant, and they are increasingly unable to correct themselves with video replay. So far, recriminations have flown against incompetence in officiating as a quasi-profession, but the same phenomenon is occurring in sportsing where the officials are full-time professionals. Recriminations have also flown against the video replay system, but the only solution there seems to include outrageous complexity, which everyone, even The GIRC, recognizes as detrimental to the playing of the game.

In my opinion, which I will label “obviously,” it is the policy itself. The policy is regulating that which cannot be regulated. A “football catch” is known only until it is atomized. After it is atomized, in an effort to define its characteristics and elements, no one knows with any confidence what a “football catch” might actually be.

The solution, then, is quite clear: jettison The GIRC altogether. Remove the policy of “football catch” from the rule book. Remove video review systems. Place officials who have been examined for competency into a properly defined role as judges, not as regulators or enforcers, except where necessary. Periodically grade the judges according to their performance in the instant, not according to camera angles or variable speeds of the videos. Assess, revisit, reassess.

Good men will make good judges, and good judges will make good men. When we have reestablished this principle, then sportsing events will become enjoyable again, or, at least in Buffalo, NY, less agonizing.

replay booth

A Seven-Part Guide to Clear Thinking about Someone Else’s Charitable Donation

1) Begin by asking yourself whether it would be better for the person to have kept the money/assets. Be explicit about this. Do not engage in motte and bailey-style arguments in which this is implicit but denied.

2) Avoid suggesting alternatives not available to the individual. It may be preferable to have higher taxes and, consequently, fewer private charitable contributions. This argument is important, but orthogonal to any specific charitable contribution. If you believe there is mutual exclusivity between a given charitable contribution and some broader goal, be explicit. If you wish to engage in ideal world theorizing, be explicit.

3) If there are incidental benefits to the person, such as a tax deduction or public relations benefits, ask seriously whether those benefits are really a motivating cause. (For example, you might note that for every dollar you donate to charity, you cannot get more than a dollar in tax deductions, and that the direct cost is much greater than the tax benefit. You might note what substantial wealth could buy in PR if applied directly, rather than donated away.)

4) Ask serious questions about where the money will flow. Charitable Alternative B may be better than Charitable Alternative C, but try to remember Alternative A is keeping the money (see 1 above). If you are advocating for charitable donations, but of a particular kind, be explicit. Do not confuse such arguments with arguments against charitable contributions in toto.

5) Ask serious questions about how the money was made, but try to avoid “fruit of a poisoned tree” arguments. The eradication of polio is not an outcome that is tainted by Microsoft’s breach of EU competition law. If you want to criticize someone for being rich, do so directly rather than by criticizing them for giving away their riches.

6) Do not get hung up on legal structures. LLCs and 501(c)s have distinct costs and benefits, but neither structure completely determines how money will be applied. Nor are such structures immutable. At best, entity types may be tentative clues as to future plans.

7) It is possible to find psychological or philosophical reasons to believe that all altruism is self-interested. If you are a thoroughgoing skeptic of this kind, be explicit and do not selectively apply those arguments.

TL;DR – do not do what this author did.