Friday, June 06, 2014

Bang! POw@#! Guns

I have not followed the nuts-and-bolts gun politics in the US well enough to know what real changes have taken place in the recent decades, but it looks to me as if guns have more and more rights in some states, even while they enable more efficient mass killings, more gun accidents at home (many involving children), more instant-rage-turned-to-life-long-grief-and-regret, more successful suicides.

While skimming some recent gun news I saw a comment which argued that cars kill more people than guns and should be banned first.  The comment was intended to show how inane anti-gun people are, I guess.  But thinking about cars and guns can be useful in this context.

For example, we accept the idea that cars can be dangerous, that one needs to pass a driving test before being allowed to drive one, that one needs insurance for the car, that the license to drive can be taken away, that one shouldn't text-and-drive, that one shouldn't drive drunk or on drugs and so on.  As far as I can tell, getting a permit for a gun doesn't require a shooting test or a written test about the rules which apply to gun use. 

Then there's the fact that the initial argument doesn't standardize for the number of cars vs. guns or the total amount of their use and doesn't even ask the basic question about the utility of cars vs. guns for most people or note that killing something very efficiently isn't the main idea behind cars but pretty much is the main idea behind guns.

I was also struck (pun not intended) by this Twitter picture which has to do with the lack of cultural rules about how to carry a gun if one wishes to do it openly, about how to predict who it is who might be planning a killing spree and who just wants to come across as an asshat in public.

The man on the left is Justin Bourque who allegedly killed three police officers in Canada and was apprehended yesterday.  I have no idea who the man on the right might be, but most people would react to the two in identical manner.  That's because seeing someone with a gun leads one to expect that it will be shortly used. Well, a "one" who has not grown up in a gun culture, that "one" would not wish to share the street or the store with people carrying rifles like that, and the reason is that anyone doing it looks like Justin Bourque.

The whole field is screaming, begging and pleading for a lot of difficult-but-crucial studies:  What happens to gun deaths in a state when the regulations are eased/tightened and when guns are more/less easily available?  What is the number of deaths avoided by someone using a gun defensively?  What is the number of deaths caused by someone using a gun defensively in error?  How many accidents resulting in deaths can be blamed on guns?

But we also need a conversation about the rights of others, those who are now expected to share the world with someone armed-to-the-teeth-just-in-case.  There are real psychological costs from having to shop next to someone carrying a gun (where are the exist if something happens, what could I crouch behind, how is this person feeling about others right now?) 

I'm not terribly optimistic about that conversation taking place in the US, because of the misuse of the second amendment:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
That "well regulated Militia" fell down the memory hole, never to reappear.  I wonder what the "Founding Fathers" would say about the current interpretation of that right...

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Guilt and Threats. Final Fund-Raising Plea


I only remember afterwards how much writing about something like the Santa Barbara butcher takes out of me.  While the writing flows I just channel it, feeling cool, calm and collected (though the research before that stage is another story).  But when it's all over, the price must be paid.  Thank goddess for migraine medications.

Similar problems attach themselves to any painful writing.  I have a lot of thoughts about the term "rape culture," some even helpful thoughts.  But when I try to write about them my head becomes verrry heavy and I need a nap first.  And first and first.

The point -- if there is one -- is that different types of emotional energy can fuel one's writing but they are not all equally costly or cheap.  Others' pain and suffering demand rapid payment, and that payment is high.

That's self-pitying stuff and of no importance, but I snuck it in because someone might be bent towards donating money by that whine.  (And snuck is a word, I swear.)

Don't let me press your guilt buttons.  Mostly I love what I do here.  It beats window-washing and toilet cleaning and many other jobs for which nobody pays me, and the writing on the blog stays while the windows and toilet bowls just ask for more cleaning.


If guilt doesn't affect you much, how about threats?  I might do an Elizabeth Wurtzel and write about myself All. The. Time.  I might decide that a pope who never had children is right about children being the point of all existence, that nothing is worse than old age without children.  Francis should know, after all, given that celibacy thing.

I might write how our whole existence (as determined by "science") is just as vehicles for our genes to reproduce themselves.  I might go one better on Wurtzel and friends, and decide that the point of our lives is to be an environment for our stomach bacteria to thrive so that they can pass their genetic information on, that the point in having children is to guarantee future environments for those stomach bacteria. -- Come to think of it, I would probably make a lot more money if I chose those paths of the writing life or the paths the Ann Coulters of this world are busily plowing.

Duh. I'm not very good at threats.

Thank You

My deepest thanks to all of you who have sent me money or encouragement (with vague future promises of money).  I adore all of my readers, because you are smart, kind and eloquent.

Silly Posting: Quolls, Vultures And Vladimir Putin

This is quoll, an endangered Australian animal.

The cuteness hides a major carnivore (thanks to Richard_Thunderbay for the hint):

There's a lesson in all this.  I like to think of it as the Defense Of The Seemingly Cute And Little...

K Street in Washington, D.C., now has real vultures.   Which is funny, because K Street is where all the political lobbyists have their perches.

Vladimir Putin has commented on a statement by Hillary Clinton, about Putin's recent acts looking a bit like what Adolf Hitler did in the 1930s.  Most of that exchange is what politicians do to each other, but this is worth commenting a bit more:

“It’s better not to argue with women,” Putin said, taking specific aim at Clinton’s gender. “But Ms. Clinton has never been too graceful in her statements.”

So our Vlad poked at our gender.  Which means that his forefinger was in my ribs and in the ribs of all womenfolk all over the world. And of course what he said is trivial and based on that 1950s code of wimminz-who-can-understand-them-just-say-yesdear-to-your-wife-always, and it doesn't truly hurt, that poke.

But it's still worth pointing out.  If you can't argue with women, then women in the public sphere will either rule the roost, totally, or will be utterly and completely pedestaled and then ignored.  Vlad put some distance between rational people and women in that comment, though he later added that women should be strong and that means not criticizing him:

“When people push boundaries too far, it’s not because they are strong but because they are weak,” he added. “But maybe weakness is not the quality for a woman.”

I need to take some pictures of me on a pony.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Speed-Blogging, 6/4/14: Girly Hurricanes, Writing While Female, Learning To Be A Man And Other Stories

Why do hurricanes with girly names result in more deaths?  Lingering sexism as the main author of the study suggests?  Perhaps.  But I'd still want to double-check while thinking about this explanation:
For a start, they analysed hurricane data from 1950, but hurricanes all had female names at first. They only started getting male names on alternate years in 1979. This matters because hurricanes have also, on average, been getting less deadly over time. “It could be that more people die in female-named hurricanes, simply because more people died in hurricanes on average before they started getting male names,” says Lazo.

The study author argues that those facts don't matter, but surely the much smaller sample size of hurricanes called Chuck or Bob affects the comparisons.  So might the very large death tolls of the early hurricanes, though, once again, the author states that this is not the case.  I haven't looked at the study, what with being tired after traveling and also emotional as is the wont of female goddesses.

Just kidding there.  #NotAllGoddesses are emotional basket-cases (though Hera is).  I plan a long post on the #NotAllMen and #NotAllWhites Twitter hashtags, by the way.  Very very long it will be, and complicated.

This is an interesting piece about how to review literature written by women.  I partly agree, partly need more thinking on all that (i.e., asking myself if male writers are held to the same standards or not).

And this series of pictures teaches you how to be a man.  It's tongue-in-cheek, and right away made me imagine similar series of pictures about how to be a woman (walking on corkscrews under your heels, the prison of bras etc.).  Why does performing a gender have to be so much work?

An interesting story about the real estate market in London, England.  It suggests that the reasons why some invest in housing have nothing to do with wanting a place to live in.  That's obvious, of course, but what happens when a plurality of buyers act on those kinds of incentives?

Finally, I really really want to be a fly on the wall in one of the Bilderberg meetings, to learn what our overlords (and a few token overladies) are planning for this planet.


Tuesday, June 03, 2014

I Need This Necklace

This one.

Reading unmoderated comments on major websites is extremely painful.  Doing it on a permanent basis turns the brain into a Waldorf salad, kills all hope about humanity and maximizes the profits of antacid producers and therapists.

Monday, June 02, 2014

The Third Fund-Raising Post

Because it's nearly impossible to gauge readership*, these days, one aspect of this fund-raising drive is to stand as a proxy for it.  If you can't contribute right now but are a regular reader, you could let me know in the comments to this post.

*Given that anyone subscribing to the RSS feed is invisible to me.