In the Wake of Three Shootings

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My heart sank on Saturday when I saw reports of another mass murder—this time in El Paso. My heart sinks every time I hear of a shooting, but this one hit close to home. After all, Texas is my home.

Then I woke up Sunday morning to learn of another mass murder in Dayton, Ohio. Once again, my heart sank.

And this comes hot on the heels of another mass murder in Gilroy, California last weekend.

It’s enough to make one stop and ask a question: What’s going on here?

I’ll tell you what makes me sad and then mad about these shootings. First and foremost, people die. In most cases, they’re defenseless and shot senselessly. Many times, children die. Lives are cut short.

Second, the mainstream media immediately politicizes (polarizes) the narrative and jumps to conclusions. Forget just mourning with the victims and letting people internalize what happened, much less waiting for reports from the front lines. Everything has to fit the preconceived narrative, whether that’s liberal, conservative, or something else. The philosophy is, “If it doesn’t fit the narrative, don’t report it.” Or worse.

Third, the talking heads who immediately start calling for gun bans, gun control, and gun whatever.

You might be wondering, “Why do calls for gun control make you mad, Matthew? Isn’t that a sensible thing to do?”

No, it’s not, because it’s ignoring so many other factors.

I once saw an analysis of four countries’ gun laws and gun violence statistics: Japan, Mexico, Switzerland, and the United States. Here is the essence of that analysis:

  • Japan: Low gun availability, very low gun violence.
  • Mexico: Low gun availability, very high gun violence.
  • The U.S.: High gun availability, very high gun violence.
  • Switzerland: High gun availability, very low gun violence.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

People like to point to gun ownership as the cause of these mass murders. They then demand “gun control” to prevent future mass murders. But that’s like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Switzerland, until recently, had very free gun laws. Every citizen is required to serve in the military, issued a firearm, and then allowed to keep that firearm upon honorable discharge. Consequently, most Swiss households owned guns.

Yet you don’t hear about mass shootings in Switzerland. Ever.

Contrast that to Mexico, the complete opposite. Mexico has strict gun control laws that should prevent even the cartels from owning them, and yet people get shot and killed every day, even in touristy places like Cancún.

Within the United States, one need only look at Chicago, a city with strict gun control laws, to see how well gun control is working out. Chicago banned handguns from 1982 to 2010—at which time the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the ban unconstitutional. During that period, 59% of all murders in the city were committed with handguns. From 2003 to 2010, that figure jumped to 71%.

Gun control worked pretty well for the Windy City, then, huh?

Here’s another piece of data: There are approximately 393 million guns owned by civilians in the United States alone. That’s 1.2 guns for every American citizen.

If guns were the problem, we’d sure as heck know it by now. We’d be seeing shootings on an even more massive scale.

These facts are not intended to diminish gun violence in any way. Gun violence is tragic. Any loss of life is tragic. There’s no argument there.

But realize that guns are just a means to an end. Timothy McVeigh bombed Oklahoma City using fertilizer. Terrorists on 9/11 used airplanes. The Boston Marathon bombers used a pressure cooker.

My point is this: Guns are not the problem. Guns never were the problem.

So, what is?

Mental health or instability? Radicalization? Social isolation?

Race-baiting politicians? Brainwashing? Mind control?

The “Deep State” or the “New World Order”?

Far-fetched, you say? Maybe not entirely. But you have to ask yourself these things and do some digging. Rarely does the “official story” match up with all the facts.

Frankly, I don’t know the answer to why. I wish I did. And until I do, or at least think I do, I’m going to keep looking.

But even if I did, the sad fact is that most people will not think beyond what appears to be the immediate solution: ban guns.

Banning alcohol worked so well in the 1920s that they had to pass the 21st Amendment to overturn the 18th.

What makes anyone think that guns would be any different?

And, I hate to say this, but mass murders make me more in favor of the 2nd Amendment than I was before. I want to have a gun on my person if a bad guy starts shooting at me.

And in the current state of our nation, being shot at has become less and less far-fetched of an idea.

I hope this short article has prompted you to think. Ask yourself these questions. Does it really make sense, what these political talking heads are demanding?

Or are they just pushing a narrative?

Pray for the victims of these attacks and their families, pray for our nation, and pray for our world. May God bless our leaders with wisdom and discernment as they grapple with these tough issues. May our nation get to the root causes of these issues so that innocent people can safely go about their lives without fear of being shot.

And may Truth prevail.


Sources and further reading

Guns in Other Countries — Gun Facts: http://www.gunfacts.info/gun-control-myths/guns-in-other-countries/

Estimating Global Civilian-Held Firearms Numbers — Small Arms Survey: http://www.smallarmssurvey.org/fileadmin/docs/T-Briefing-Papers/SAS-BP-Civilian-Firearms-Numbers.pdf

Gun Control — Just Facts: https://www.justfacts.com/guncontrol.asp

Sgt. Carl Burton “Bubba” George: MIA, POW

Growing up, Memorial Day didn’t mean a whole lot more to me than a day off from school, as I’m sure is the case with many American kids. Even though I respected the sacrifices made by all men and women who served in the armed forces, I didn’t even know what the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day was. However, all that changed for me in high school, when they found my long-lost Uncle Bubba.

I knew growing up that my grandmother’s brother, my great uncle, was named Bubba, served in the Army, and went missing in action in Korea, never to be seen again. Beyond that I knew little else about him, except that my grandmother loved and looked up to him.

Imagine my surprise one day when Mom announced, “They identified Bubba’s remains!” My great aunt Marcella, Bubba’s younger sister, had sent a DNA sample to the Army that could potentially help with identifying remains of American soldiers that the North Korean government turned over to the United States. Two years later, the Army came back with a match: They found Bubba.

The Army flew his remains to San Antonio, where he would be buried in the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery. On a Saturday in March, my family drove down from DFW for the funeral with full military honors and, I have to say, it left a big impression on my fifteen-year-old mind.

Here was a man, dead for over fifty years, lost and forgotten about in some North Korean prison camp for who knows how long, reduced to unidentifiable remains, now found, identified, and remembered. The Army that he served honored his service by transporting his casket on a horse-drawn hearse, playing “Taps”, and then sending him off for the last time with a twenty-one gun salute.

They folded the flag that was draped on his casket and gave it to my great aunt Marcella. I remember the soldier kneeling before my great aunt with the flag in his hands, talking so softly to her that I could not hear his words, and her and my grandmother tearing up. This was the closure they didn’t get back in the fifties, when someone from the Army, perhaps a chaplain, drove up to their small house near Bowie, Texas and tried to softly break the news that their beloved son and brother Bubba would not be coming back home.

Well, now he was finally home, and what a homecoming it was.

Now, whenever I think of Memorial Day, I think of my Uncle Bubba, a bright, hard-working young man with a great future ahead of him, who chose to serve his country in a war he probably didn’t know much about. I don’t know what he went through in that North Korean prison camp. I don’t know how he died, or how long he suffered before the Lord finally took him home. But I do know that Memorial Day is for men like him.

So, today, as you enjoy a day off from work, maybe fire up the barbecue or do some shopping, stop for a moment and think about the men and women who died while serving the United States of America. Their sacrifices preserve our liberty. As Thomas Jefferson said, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” Thank God for all the patriots who spill their own blood while shedding the blood of tyrants.


If you want to read more about my great uncle, please see the following links:

On Airshows

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The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Snowbirds performing at the 2018 Fort Worth Alliance Air Show. They are as graceful as their name sounds.

Airshows are awesome. If you’ve been, you know; if you haven’t, go and find out.

I grew up going to airshows. My dad worked in the aerospace industry and took our family to as many airshows as he could in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. I’ve been to at least fifteen by my reckoning, maybe as many as twenty. I’ve seen both the Thunderbirds and the Blue Angels at least three times each, likely more. I’ve also seen a very realistic Pearl Harbor/Tora! Tora! Tora! reenactment with Mitsubishi Zeroes, several AV-8B Harrier demonstrations, and a rare Russian Mi-24 Hind helicopter flight. (If you don’t know what those are, follow the links!)

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Yours truly with the Mi-24 in 2016. “Never smile at the crocodile.”

My earliest airshow memory was talking to the pilot of an E-3 Sentry AWACS aircraft at age three. He let me sit in the pilot’s seat, wear the headset, and play with the throttle controls. I then remember walking through the aircraft, past the computer workstations (where seats would normally be on a commercial aircraft), out the aft door, down the mobile stairs, and to where Mom and Daniel were waiting in the shade of a B-52 Stratofortress, Daniel still being in a stroller at the time. It’s all documented on an old camcorder tape somewhere, along with plenty of shots of vacant sky as a fighter jet whizzes past!

Airshows never get old for me; in fact, I appreciate them more and more as I get older. I still enjoy seeing the aircraft, but now I also enjoy talking to the pilots and crew. Most of them spend the day standing around in the heat, cold, or rain, just waiting for someone to ask them about their planes. You can learn some interesting things from striking up a conversation with them, and they’re more than happy to talk. I got to speak with a B-2 Spirit pilot this past weekend (though he left his B-2 back at Whiteman AFB, darn!). Dad told me that one time, back in the late 80s, he asked an F-14 pilot about the video targeting pod on his aircraft. The pilot looked at Dad incredulously and asked, as if it were classified info, “How do you know about that?” Dad replied, “Tom Clancy wrote about it in Red Storm Rising!” (It pays to read good books.)

Perhaps above all else, I enjoy airshows because they are tangible reminders of the sacrifices that American men and women make so that we can be free in this country. For every B-17 Stratofortress that survived World War II, there were hundreds that bit the dust or limped back home over European skies; and the life expectancy of a B-17 crewman was just a handful of missions, if he was fortunate. The men and women who build, fly, and support military aircraft do it not for their own sakes but for ours, so that we may live freely, safely, and comfortably on our own soil. They have my fullest respect.

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Yours truly with the “Texas Raiders” B-17 Stratofortress in 2016. This particular B-17 was used in a very iconic Don’t Mess with Texas commercial.

So, get online and find out if there’s an airshow near you. If there is, go. Bring your friends and family. Take good walking shoes, sunglasses, and sun protection—and a camera, too. Even if you know nothing about airplanes or aviation, go. Watch some air performances. Walk around the static displays. Talk to some pilots: ask them about their aircraft and what a day in the flight suit is like. Smile and thank them for their service. Many will autograph bulletins or even have posters they will autograph.

And, most importantly, have a great time and make great memories.

Coming soon: pictures from the 2018 Fort Worth Alliance Air Show. Stay tuned.

Bro-Trip Report: Austin, TX

It was nearly 10PM on the dark Colorado River. Behind us lay the ultra-modern buildings of downtown Austin. Ahead of us lay pitch black. Somewhere on our right was the public dock where we launched our kayak from. There we were in the middle of the still river, with no one else around, tired, hungry, and ready to call it an evening.

And then Daniel said: “We’re like the only ones out here. This is kinda scary!”

My encouragement: “Well, at least no one’s going to mug us!”

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HOPE Outdoor Gallery.

Our trip to Austin began when we woke up at 5:30AM that morning. Aiming to leave the house by 6:30AM, we left at 6:50AM instead (a twenty-minute delay is pretty good by our family’s standards!) in my intrepid little Mazda 3 and arrived in Austin just after ten, stopping only in Georgetown so Daniel could buy a second breakfast at Chick-Fil-A. No, he doesn’t have furry feet.

Arriving in Austin, our hopes and dreams were dashed by the horrendous traffic. Being that it’s Austin, I expected some traffic, but thought that it would be greatly diminished since we were rolling in after rush hour. I was wrong and I should have known better, but I learned my first lesson of the trip—traffic in Austin is almost always bad.

Our first stop upon arriving was the HOPE Outdoor Gallery, which I hear some call “Graffiti Park” or the graffiti park. If you want to leave your mark on some concrete (at least until someone else leaves their mark over yours), practice some photography, or simply climb to the top for a great view of the city, this is the place. We didn’t bring any spray paint and opted not to buy any from the vendor there, so we simply took some photos and enjoyed the view.

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Lots of development downtown. Daniel gets credit for this photo, which includes the spacious Texas sky.

While we were near downtown, Shoe Man Dan wanted to visit the Shoe Palace store on The Drag (Guadalupe St.), which is located right next to the infamous Tyler’s (where the “Keep Austin Weird” shirts are sold). Daniel looked at all the latest styles while I enjoyed the air conditioning, and then we decided on a whim to visit a turtle pond on the University of Texas campus.

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Daniel disturbing the peace.

What was once a serene pond of placid turtles is now a frothing sea of hungry reptiles, thanks in part to Daniel trying to get some action footage of the turtles with my NoPro. Sadly, the SD card is apparently corrupted and it remains to be seen whether the action footage will ever be seen.

Having driven off all the UT students looking for a quiet place to study, we decided it was time for lunch and headed off to Wild Bubba’s Wild Game Grill, which is quite a drive from downtown. Wild Bubba’s is located southeast of the Circuit of the Americas racetrack (another place worth visiting; our family toured it last year) and serves some of the best burgers I’ve ever had. I ate a yak burger and Daniel had a kangaroo one. Both were delicious, and I learned that yak is apparently one of the most nutritious meats you can eat, being 96-98% lean and containing vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids. Who says you can’t have your burger and eat it too?

After filling our bellies and the Mazda’s gas tank, we drove to Camp Mabry so we could visit the Texas Military Forces Museum located on the base. Unfortunately, we had only an hour before it closed, so we had to make the most of our time and skip over some things that we wanted to spend more time looking at. However, it is a fantastic museum dedicated to the history of Texas and the military, from the days of Texas Independence to the modern National Guard.

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The Texas Military Forces Museum had some really cool dioramas, including this one depicting the American 36th Infantry fighting the German Army in Italy.

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A fine quote from a fine general.

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The flag says it all.

Our plan for the evening was to kayak down the Colorado River and watch the bats fly out from underneath the Congress Avenue Bridge. Instead of paying out the nose to rent a kayak and do a group tour, we brought Daniel’s inflato-yak and found a public boat launch by Austin High School where we could put in. The bridge was only a mile or so southeast of our launch point, and we figured we could get down there with no sweat. After checking in at our AirBNB in southwest Austin, we grabbed dinner at Plucker’s and headed to the river.

We inflated and assembled the kayak on the road by the school, locked the car, and carried the ‘yak to the waterside. With our valuables stored in waterproof cases and carabiner-ed to our trunks, we boarded the vessel and began paddling down the river.

Actually, we found ourselves paddling up the river. The current was flowing against us. Most everyone else on the river at the time, including a rowing team, paddled the other way, with the current. “It’s okay,” I said to Daniel. “This means we’ll be paddling with the current when we come back.”

We pressed ahead, passing locals on paddleboards with their dogs happily sitting there with them. After thirty minutes, we were about to pass underneath a bridge, but not the right bridge. Daniel pulled out his phone while I kept motoring ahead, and determined (with my aid, since he’s not the best navigator) that we had to pass underneath two road bridges, a pedestrian bridge, and a train bridge before we made it to Congress Avenue. We also determined that our inflato-yak was likely the reason we weren’t moving very fast through the water, due to its less-than-rigid construction. We pressed on, needing to cover quite the distance before sundown because that was when the bats would come out.

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The distance we kayaked, starting near Austin High School to the northwest and down to the Congress Avenue Bridge to the southeast. I estimate it was 1.5 miles one-way.

We paddled hard, and barely made it. Right as we approached the bridge, bats began flying out in scores. Thousands of them, tens of thousands, and then hundreds of thousands. They squeaked and fluttered as they formed a black trail through the sky, hunting for bugs. I think I heard one of the other people on the river (someone who paid to kayak, but probably had a better launch point) say that the number of bats that fly out every night is somewhere around 1.5 million. Wow.

I have no pictures of the bats, as I didn’t want to risk taking my DSLR out on the water. Daniel took plenty on his phone and shared them with all his friends, but not with me. I’m just his brother. Nevertheless, when in Austin, check the bats out!

And that brings us back to where this bro-trip report all started. After getting our fill of the bats getting their fill, we turned around and paddled back to the boat launch. The sun had set, and once we were past the lights of downtown and enclosed by trees on either side of the river, it got really dark, really fast. The current died down, too. So much for paddling with the current. We were paddling with no current.

Two lesser men might have given up, and tried to get off the river somewhere else, but not us. No, we stuck it out, despite darkness, tired shoulders, and Daniel’s complaints about the darkness and his tired shoulders. I’m happy to report that we did eventually make it back to the boat launch, but only after we passed it once and had to paddle back to it. We expeditiously took the kayak apart, haphazardly reloaded it into my car, and wearily drove to our accommodations for a much-needed night’s sleep.

The next morning, we got a slow start as we were still tired from the previous day’s adventure. After breakfast, we geared up for a more relaxing day hiking in Pedernales Falls State Park near Johnson City.

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Some of the rocks at Pedernales Falls State Park.

Though hot, the scenery was gorgeous. The Texas Hill Country has some beautiful and interesting geology. Plenty of people were there enjoying nature, some of whom were enjoying it a little too much by swimming where they weren’t supposed to.

We hiked and climbed over rocks, then went to where we could legally swim in the Pedernales River. In a moment of stupidity, I forgot my trunks and sandals in the car, so I sat the swim out. Daniel enjoyed hanging out in the water, however, and I enjoyed the shade.

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Daniel “mav-ing up” with both hands.

Once we felt hiked out, we drove back to Austin for a very late lunch, and then spent the early evening exploring downtown some more. We drove down Congress Avenue towards the Texas State Capitol, and eventually found ourselves back on The Drag, where we decided to park and walk around. Daniel bought himself a shirt from Tyler’s, while I decided I didn’t need another shirt, pair of shoes, or any other souvenir to remember the trip by.

Austin is an interesting city. It’s weird, and there are plenty of “weird” people, but it’s also got its fair share of normal and “normal” people. (Though I think the “weird” Austinites thought that we two conservative Christian brothers were the weird ones!) I saw plenty of “Beto For Senate” signs and the hippie-dippie types, but also a decent number of trucks with conservative bumper stickers and even the occasional cowboy or rancher. Daniel and I both think that Austin is like part of California transplanted into the heart of Texas. That means you get both the natural and man-made beauty of San Francisco, but unfortunately you also get the liberals.

Still, the city has a strange charm that keeps drawing me back. This was the third weekend I’ve spent there, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be back for more. Next time, though, we’re using real kayaks.

Trip Report: Waco, TX

On a whim, I decided to take a Friday trip down to Waco. Having passed through the city many times en route to other destinations, I’d never stopped there for more than a bite to eat. I wanted to get away for the day, and since Waco is slightly over a one-hour drive from home, it made perfect sense as my destination.

The two biggest attractions in Waco, from what know, are Baylor University and Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia. However, my biggest attraction to Waco was the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, something I had seen the signs for every time I passed through yet never visited. (That’s the law enforcement agency, not the baseball team. Chuck Norris, not Nolan Ryan.) In researching other things to do in Waco, I discovered the Waco Mammoth National Monument, an archaeological site with in situ remains of Columbian mammoths that is operated by the National Park Service. With those two items on the itinerary, plus a lunch at Captain Billy Whizzbang’s Hamburgers, the day looked to be a good one.

Camera in tow, I left home at 6:45AM and made a quick stop to top off my gas tank. I also checked my oil, something good to do before any road trip. All that done, I hit the road.

The drive to Waco early in the morning is pretty uneventful. One of my dad’s road-trip philosophies is to find a semi driving about the speed you want to travel and follow behind him. This strategy is good for two reasons: one, the semi cuts through the wind, allowing cars behind to travel in a slipstream (i.e., reduced drag on my car); and two, it takes some pressure off the driver of the car, since not much is going to happen between the semi trailer and the car’s front bumper. If something happens, it’s going to happen in front of the semi, and if worse comes to worst, he’ll take the brunt of it. I was able to “link up” with a southbound truck from Oklahoma and follow him all the way into the city. For anyone who doesn’t think much about this tip, ride in an older car like mine that has some rattles, clanks, and wind noise, and you’ll notice that the trip behind a semi is a whole lot smoother and quieter than it would be otherwise.

I arrived in Waco just after 8:00AM and made a stop at WalMart to use the restroom and buy a Rand McNally road atlas (“The Book of Dreams,” as Neil Peart would call it—and I would agree), something I’d been meaning to acquire as a backup to GPS and in preparation for future road trips. That done, I drove to the Ranger museum and hung out at the adjacent city visitor center until the museum’s doors opened at 9:00AM. A tip: stop at the visitor’s center to receive a coupon brochure with discounts for many attractions and restaurants.

The Ranger museum did not disappoint. In fact, it contained a whole lot more than I thought it would. I spent over three hours there admiring displays of firearms, equipment, and other memorabilia. The 45-minute film they show is a bit dated, a History Channel documentary on VHS, but still very informative in that it provided me a starting point from which to interpret and appreciate everything else the museum had to offer. For $8 ($7 with the coupon), it was money well-spent.

Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that I had my camera on the wrong setting (I’m still learning how to use a DSLR!), so most of my pictures either came out really bad or not at all. Still, here are three of the best that showcase just a fraction of what the museum has to offer.

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A display case of Colt revolvers. There were more Colts at this museum than you could shake a stick at. There were also interactive exhibits where you could try your hand at “reloading” a Colt Paterson and even hold the 5 lb. revolver for yourself.

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A closeup of some Colt Single Action Army revolvers. The SSA is known as the “gun that won the west” and is highly valued today. I’ve been blessed to actually hold one that still fires!

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Among the firearms and other Ranger relics on display are various stunning Western art pieces.

Following my museum visit, I drove across town to Captain Billy Whizzbang’s for a hamburger lunch. I think I had seen a billboard for this place as well, but it wasn’t until I stumbled upon the old magazine Captain Billy’s Whiz Bang and was reading about it that I made the connection with the restaurant. Anyway, after driving through Beverly Hills (not California, but with almost as much traffic), I arrived and ordered a hamburger with their famous WhizPigg patty (half ground beef and half bacon) and tater tots on the side. It was delicious and I could have gone for another one, but decided that was probably enough cholesterol for one day.

Back in the car, I drove alongside Lake Waco to get to the mammoth park, which is located far enough outside the main city of Waco that it’s surrounded by farmland. I paid $5 for a guided tour with a U.S. park ranger, and didn’t have to wait too long in the heat for the tour to begin.

I call the place a park because there are trails and picnic tables available free of charge and open to the public. The park ranger explained that before it was run by the National Park Service, it used to be a dairy farm. Two boys were playing in the woods one day and came upon a large bone, which they took to Baylor just down the road and had identified as a mammoth femur. Forty or so years later, and excavations have uncovered several fossils of Columbian mammoths, which are quite larger than either wooly mammoths or African elephants. Our park ranger explained that they could be as tall as twenty feet at the shoulder, and that humans way back then were crazy enough to hunt something that big. (I’m sure we still are, if there were something that big to hunt!)

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Various skulls from other extinct species.

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Closeup of the saber-tooth cat skull.

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An artist’s rendition of what a Columbian mammoth might look like. Note that this rendition is still smaller than the animal would be real life; the light fixture over the mammoth’s shoulders was there first and set the height limit for the picture.

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The remains of an adult male mammoth in the foreground, a juvenile mammoth to the left, and a camel (yes, a camel) in the background.

A building had been built around the main mammoth dig site in order to preserve the specimens and allow visitors to view them in situ. Our park ranger guide pointed out a knot on the adult male’s ribcage that was evidently the result of a sparring match with another male (over a female mammoth, of course). One thing I thought was very interesting was that there was a camel found among the mammoths. Our guide explained that, some 65,000 years ago, there was a breed of camel that probably looked more like a llama or alpaca and that lived with the mammoths as a sort of watchdog against predators, since the mammoths likely had poor eyesight. He also showed us the different strata and how the mammoths found in that one dig site died thousands of years apart, and likely in different ways.

The tour complete, I walked the trail back to my car and headed for home. It was another uneventful drive, albeit on a busier highway later in the day. I couldn’t find one semi to hang with, so wound up jumping from semi to semi (always passing safely in the left lane). At least that segment of I-35 isn’t under construction!

Final thoughts: I would definitely visit the Ranger museum again, as there’s a lot that I know I didn’t fully appreciate. I plan to read some books on the Rangers so I have a larger knowledge base for my next visit, whenever that may be. Captain Billy Whizzbang’s was pretty good, and I’d go back for another burger and tots, although it’s pretty far off the highway and, thus, most everything else there is to do in Waco. I’m glad I visited the mammoth monument and I learned a lot there, too, but I’m not sure I’d go back again. The price was reasonable enough, and I’m happy to support their efforts in digging up more fossils, but there’s not much else to see or do there.

Thus ends the day-trip to Waco, hopefully the first of many similar day-trips and weekend trips to come. Next up: Fort Griffin?

On History Repeating — An Example

I am currently gleefully digesting Dr. Thomas E. Woods, Jr.’s fantastic book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History. Aside from generally making me angry at the left-leaning folks who “re-write” history in school textbooks, it is chock-full with facts that really change the way I see historical events.

This week, as I was reading about how bad President Roosevelt’s New Deal was for Americans, I came across a passage that stunned me with how relevant it is today. I re-read it three or four times. See for yourself:

The standard textbook provides all the details of Watergate and of Richard Nixon’s abuse of power (as indeed it should), but not a word about FDR as the pioneer of [political intimidation]. When the Paulist Catholic radio station of poor Father James Gillis in Chicago criticized FDR’s court-packing scheme, the FCC took its license away. As early as 1935, FDR requested that the FBI initiate a series of investigations into a variety of conservative organizations, and later in the decade secretly sought proof (which, of course, never came) that prominent members of the America First Committee, routinely smeared as Nazis and traitors, were receiving Nazi money.

Look at that. Investigations into conservative organizations. Hunting for “evidence” of foreign money. Conservatives called Nazis (before World War II, mind you). Doesn’t look like much has changed in the Democratic Party, does it?

On the Fourth of July

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Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com

Two-hundred-forty-two years ago to the day, American declared its independence from the British Empire. Nowadays, we might think back on that as simply another event, albeit a big one, from the history books. We should stop a moment and consider the courage it took for those brave men to draft and sign a document that, literally, told the British to royally shove off.

If you haven’t before, take some time to read the full Declaration of Independence to understand more about just what it was and why the Founding Fathers created it. The transcript is available on the National Archives website, Archives.gov.

Now, when you celebrate the day with hot dogs, cold beer, and fireworks, you can do so with the deepest respect for our country and the men and women who fought, and died, to create and preserve it. May we not grow complacent in our freedom that is not free, but rather stand up for our rights against those enemies, foreign and domestic, who would take them from us. May we as a country turn our hearts away from sin and back to God in another Great Awakening. May we expose the sin, darkness, and corruption that has moved our country so far away from where our Founding Fathers created it, and let the truth be shouted from the rooftops and across the airwaves.

Happy Independence Day, and God bless America!

On Rights

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President Trump speaking at the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum on May 4, 2018. Author’s own work.

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the 2018 NRA Annual Meeting in Dallas. Dad and I trekked to the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center with tens of thousands of NRA members from around the U.S. and marveled at 15 acres’ worth of exhibitors. There were more guns than you could shake a stick at, and certainly many we couldn’t afford, but it’s cool to feel like a kid in a toy store again.

As if that weren’t good enough, we also had the great prvilege to hear President Trump, Vice President Pence, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox, and Sutherland Springs hero Stephen Willeford speak to the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum. All five gave fantastic, impassioned speeches about gun rights and the importance of the 2nd Amendment. It’s hard to rank one speech or speaker above another, because each was unique and addressed different aspects of freedom and the right to keep and bear arms. However, I walked out of the arena with a new and better understanding of just how important the 2nd Amendment is, and why we must protect it.

I will paraphrase the slogan I saw on an NRA shirt: the right to keep and bear arms is not the need to keep and bear arms. You don’t have to own a gun if you don’t want to, but you have the right. You don’t have to own an AR-15 if you dont want to, but you have the right. If you choose not to exercise that right, that’s fine. However, that does not mean that you can dictate how other people exercise their right, or whether they can at all.

That’s what the hysterical left is trying to do. They march, shout, and call law-abiding gun owners nasty names as they try to appear morally superior. They have weaponized the 1st Amendment against the 2nd, and seek to squelch gun rights activists’ own use of the 1st Amendment by dubbing what they say “hate speech” or something similarly stupid.

People need to realize that the mainstream media blames the NRA and its members whenever an incident of gun violence occurs. The perpetrators of these heinous acts are not NRA members, so why do the talking heads lash out at the NRA?

Here’s one reason why: the mainstream media is trying to dictate what is morally right and proper to Americans. Most news networks blast the same drivel about gun control and mass shootings day in and day out. They fixate on protests and walk-outs led by high schoolers. The media and the people whose opinions are provided by the media hate the NRA because they know that the NRA is right, that the NRA has the facts straight. They can’t use logic, so they use bully tactics such as name-calling and flat-out lying. (That could be said about the radical left on many other things.)

Realize this: the NRA doesn’t just stand for our 2nd Amendment rights as Americans. They stand for our other Constitutional rights and also what we might call “traditional American values” such as a strong family, respect for the flag, and loyalty to the country. They want to protect our gun rights while also addressing the nation’s mental health, which seems to be spiraling further down the tubes daily.

Chris Cox impressed me with his speech. He pointed out that, thirty, forty, fifty years ago, kids brought guns to school. They had rifle racks in their pickup trucks. No one got shot. Back then, it was a different world.

What changed? The respect for and dignity of human life.

He listed off several factors that undeniably point to this. There’s pornography, which degrades both men and women to objects, turning sex into an act rather than a sacred union. There are violent video games that encourage killing fellow human beings for no reason, or for the wrong reasons. There are movies and TV shows with live actors that portray graphic, realistic violence. There is a plethora of music, from rap to metal, that glorifies rebellion, killing police, raping women, and more.

The problem, Chris stated, is not that American adults can’t handle this stuff. The problem is that American children can’t.

Who do kids look up to? Inner-city kids might glorify the rapper who sings about gang violence, “conquering” women, and smoking weed. Kids who find solace in video games, movies, and television might respect characters who kill the most, whether they are good guys or bad guys. Additionally, there are the myriad of celebrities and public figures who say all manner of bass-ackwards things, all of which are funneled into these kids’ brains thanks to smartphones and social media. What is impressing our kids at these impressionable ages? How are they turning out?

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t believe all of these things need to be banned or censored. However, we as a nation need to be discerning about what we let influence our children. Tell me what’s okay about letting adolescent boys listen to music that praises violence against police and portrays women as sex objects. Tell me what’s okay about that music, period.

These things, more than anything, lead to mental health crises and explain a lot of why our society is the way it is. Parents who pick babysitters in mass media pick poorly, if they pick at all. Read about some of the perpetrators of recent shootings and you’ll start to see these trends.

Banning firearms, whether a sweeping or selective ban, is not the answer. Ask Chicago how their tight gun laws are working out. Ask London how their murder rate is after banning guns. Last I heard, there are at least 200 million firearms owned in America (probably more now), and who knows how many rounds of ammunition. If guns were the problem, we’d be having a whole lot more shootings than there really are.

Actually, there are a lot of shootings that we don’t hear about because a good guy with a gun stopped a bad guy with a gun. That’s what the 2nd Amendment is all about, but that’s not what the mainstream media wants to report, so those stories are swept under the rug.

In his speech, President Trump cited an example from my home town, just over a year to date. When a man walked into a sports bar and shot an employee, another patron with a license to carry a concealed handgun shot the attacker, fearing that there would be greater loss of life. You can downplay this all you want, if you want, but you can’t say for certain that no one else would have died that day, or in any similar circumstance.

To placate (or provoke) the mainstream media and gun-control advocates, President Trump proposed that we go ahead and ban all trucks, and even cars. After all, they kill people, too. In 2016, eighty-six were killed and 458 wounded in Nice, France by terrorists driving a truck through a crowd. Last year in New York City, a terrorist in a rented truck plowed into bystanders on the street and killed eight, wounding eleven. Ten were killed and fourteen injured just a few weeks ago in Toronto, Canada when a maniac did the same thing.

The problem is not with guns, but with evil. It takes good guys and gals with guns to stand up to bad guys with guns, trucks, and whatever else they decide to employ in order to carry out their evil intentions.

I could rant on, but it’s time to wrap this up. Whether you own a firearm or not, are a shooting enthusiast or not, are a hunter or not, if you support the 2nd Amendment, there has never been a better time, a more critical time, to show your support. I’m not being paid by anyone to write this, but join the NRA if you feel so inclined. Their membership is approaching 6 million people, the highest it’s ever been. And, while you’re at it, consider buying a firearm, be it for range shooting, hunting, or home defense (or all three). After all, it’s your right.

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Vice President Pence speaking at the NRA-ILA Leadership forum on May 4, 2018. Author’s own work.

Finally, as Vice President Pence encouraged, bow the head and bend the knee in prayer. At this point in history, our nation is divided and desperately needs healing. There is a lot of evil out there. God knows this and listens to His people’s prayers, and we Christians are His people.

May God bless America, may our hearts turn back to Him, and may we Christian men and women stand up against the forces of evil in all shapes and forms, bearing arms if necessary. As Stephen Willeford, the hero of the Sutherland Springs massacre, encouraged, let us fight the wolves as the sheepdogs of the Good Shepherd.

And to those on the left who would take Americans’ firearms if they had their way, this Texan has four words to say:

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