Posted on October 27th, 2023
Not so long ago I noted how strange it is to hear about tragedy in a place I've been on Facebook.
Since I've been to a lot of places on this earth, this seems to happen more and more often.
Not so long ago I posted this:
And now this...
For around a decade I had work taking me to Lisbon, Maine.
Twice a year I would fly into Portland then drive up to the city of Auburn, where I always stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn. It's a nice, reasonably-priced location overlooking the Androscoggin River. The region is home to some very nice people (including those that I worked with), and has interesting eateries across the river I enjoyed like She Doesn't Like Guthries and Pedro O’Hara’s*, a Mexican-Irish restaurant.
Also across the river? The city of Lewiston.
If you've been watching the news since Wednesday night, you know why this has been haunting me.
A single shooter with an assault rifle mass-murdered 18 people in two locations in Lewiston, Maine. Needless to say, I had a rough night followed by two rough days wondering if anybody I know was hurt or killed. As of now I am still wondering because I can't bring myself to email anybody to find out. They have enough to deal with, as the shooter is still at large.
This fucking sucks.
My post about Bangkok was 23 days ago. I didn't even have a month to get over that before this happens. And that's just places I am familiar with. There's loads upon loads upon loads of places going through exactly this kind of thing week by week. And I'm mortified that it's just become background noise to me.
Until it's not in the background. Like Lewiston, Maine.
Lewiston may be the second-largest city in Maine after Portland, but it's not a big city. The first shooting at a children's league bowling alley event is just next door to a restaurant I liked. The second shooting at a cornhole competition even bar & grill is just down the street from a McDonald's that I stopped at for breakfast dozens of times. So, yeah, you might say I'm familiar with the area where the shootings occurred. An area where on Wednesday night people were just living their lives, never knowing that 18 of them would end up dead with even more injured.
Which is all kinds of fucked up. Especially when now-a-days you can't even say you're sad that 18 people were murdered without being told you're "anti-gun" or "woke" or whatever other bullshit labels get hurled by assholes lacking any sense of empathy, decency, or compassion. Something I'm getting used to, despite it never making any sense.
Not that anything surrounding mass-murder ever could.
Posted on October 5th, 2017
As anybody who has read this blog for any length of time already knows, I support the Second Amendment. This may sound weird coming from somebody whose faith doesn't believe in the handling or owning guns, but this isn't about me or my personal choices or beliefs. If it were up to me, nobody would have guns and everybody would live together in peace and harmony... amen.
But the world is a bit more complicated than that, so eliminating gun violence is not a simple problem to solve. And, as much as we'd like to think that there is something to be done about preventing mass-shootings, our options are not as cut-and-dried as people like to think.
The reason things are so complicated when it comes to gun violence?
It's the technology.
No, I'm not going to bore you with an endless diatribe about how guns are a God-Given American Right* or that Guns Are Guaranteed By Our Constitution So We Can Protect Ourselves From Our Own Government If They Become Corrupt And Abusive**... partly because I think that is a load of horse shit... but mostly because it honestly doesn't matter.
Because it's the technology.
It's being reported that the reason the mass-murderer in Las Vegas was able to harm and kill such a huge number of lives is because he had a "bump stock" which allows a semi-automatic rifle to fire like an automatic rifle. Naturally, a great many people are calling for "bump stocks" to be immediately banned. Which may actually help curb mass shootings like this in the future. At least for people who don't already own one.
But only for a short while.
Or no while at all.
The thing about "accessories" like this is that we are quickly getting to the point where you won't need to buy a "bump stock" from a manufacturer... you'll be able to download plans off the internet and 3D print one in the privacy of your own home. I don't know if current 3D plastics are strong enough for such a thing, but 3D printing with metal or super-tough polymers is just one technological step away and it's not irrational to imagine a day very soon when somebody will be able to print out whatever they want from whatever material they desire. Including "bump stocks." So ban away. It will ultimately make very little difference (which is why the piece-of-shit-NRA is actually supporting the idea). The people who probably shouldn't have them will never turn them in. The black market for them will appear within minutes. It would take decades before you could collect them all (as if you ever could). In the meanwhile? Technology.
And "bump stocks" are not the end, of course. 3D printers will eventually get larger and more accurate and be able to produce stronger, more durable prints. And that technology will eventually trickle down to ordinary citizens, as all technology eventually does. 3D printing your personal copy of an AK-47 "assault" rifle in the privacy of your own home is really not that far away. Whatever weapon you desire, from a Klingon bat'leth or a BB gun to a .45 Magnum pistol or a fully automatic rifle... it will all be within reach.
Ah, but what about gunpowder! You can't 3D print gun powder! How about we let everybody keep their guns, but ban the bullets? It's a nice thought, but gunpowder was invented by a 9th century Chinese chemist and we've gone way, way past those days. Cooking up an explosive to propel a bullet is a relatively simple matter... probably using everyday items you can find under your kitchen sink.
So... what then?
If a ban on guns won't work because there are too many out there that will never end up getting confiscated and technology is quickly getting to the point where it won't matter anyway, what's the solution?
I don't know.
But, very soon now, it won't be about the guns, no matter how badly we want it to be.****
Which is where we get to the part of the story where I put in my 2¢ on stuff...
I could go on. This is a long, difficult, complicated subject. But I think you get where I'm coming from. Banning guns outright... whatever kind of guns they may be... is a very short term solution for a long-term problem that is not going away. Not in this country where guns are as prevalent as staplers. Not in this time when technology is going to be arming people in ways we can't even dream of yet. By focusing money and effort on what makes somebody want to murder masses of people... by developing a healthier take on mental health problems... by coming up with reasonable attitudes towards what gun ownership should be... these are all things that should be obvious steps. But clearly they are not. Partly because Americans seemed content to be conditioned to think that mass shootings are "the price of freedom"... partly because we are driven to treat the underlying problem as shameful and worthy of ridicule... partly because our country's political system is corrupted by lobbyists... and partly because our politicians are sucking cock for cash.
Don't think for a minute that anything will ever change without action. Don't think for a second that our politicians will stop sucking cock for cash on their own. They've got re-election to think about. This has to come from us. This. Has. To. Come. From. Us.
Otherwise, we get the country we deserve.
And that's true no matter how you feel about guns, no matter what politial party you ascribe to, and no matter how many people die.
*Using a gun to hunt or protect yourself is absolutely a right in this country. So is collecting guns. So is trading guns like bubble gum cards, if that's your thing. For now. Because the amazing thing about the American Constitution which spells out these rights is that it can be amended or even tossed out and replaced. Not by God, but by the American people. Given it's the Second AMENDMENT to The Constitution that we're talking about here, you already knew this, right?
**Bwah ha ha... "IF" they become corrupt or abusive? That ship has certainly sailed! The reason it's horse shit to think that you'll be able to protect yourself from a corrupt and abusive government is that you won't be firing at soldiers with guns who are "coming to get you"... not by a longshot. Those days are long gone. You'll be facing endless waves of tiny armed drones. Drones that can react faster than a human and are far more difficult to hit. Not to mention being expendable.*** And this is assuming that a rogue American government wouldn't just send a missile up your ass.
***Not that our government hasn't treated the men and women serving in our military as expendable... don't even get me started.
****Lets set aside the debate over whether it's currently about the guns, since my argument is that it just won't matter in the near future. That debate gets us nowhere, because we (as a country) will never agree on it. In my opinion? OF COURSE IT'S ABOUT THE FUCKING GUNS! The whole "Guns don't kill people, people kill people!" argument is about the stupidest shit I've ever heard. Do you think the lunatic that killed 59 people and injured hundreds of others could have done so from the 32nd floor of a hotel a block away without a fucking gun? Yes, a gun is a tool to be used and abused like any other. But give me a fucking break.
UPDATE: Sadly, I've had to disable comments for this post. If you disagree with me (and many people from both sides of the debate do) that's fine. Everybody has an opinion and this blog is where I share mine. But I am getting an absurd amount of over-the-top comments, and having to delete uncivilized discourse at Blogography is getting to be a full-time job.
Posted on April 11th, 2011
There's so much horror in the world today that we're pretty much conditioned to accept it as normal.
The problem being that it isn't normal, and I'm growing more and more despondent over the fact that people seem perfectly content to let it slide. We've become a society ruled by hatred and fear, and any joy we feel is tempered by the knowledge that somebody, somewhere hates us for what we think... for what we believe... for who we are. Even worse, we're constantly reminded of it. Keeping everybody in a perpetual state of fear is apparently the easiest way to control them.
This was made painfully clear to me earlier in the evening when I got a call from the National Rifle Association...
"I'M CALLING WITH A MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT OF THE NRA WHO WANTS YOU TO LISTEN TO A SHORT ONE-MINUTE MESSAGE AND ANSWER A QUESTION ABOUT HOW CONGRESS IS TRYING TO STRIP US OF OUR SECOND AMENDMENT RIGHTS AND--
"I'm not interested."
"IT WILL ONLY TAKE A MINUTE OF YOUR TIME AND--"
"I support gun ownership, and am disgusted that you are trying to scare the crap out of people with absurd threats like this. Nobody is taking our guns away. So no thanks."
= click! =
Now, he could have called and said "I'm with the NRA, and I'm calling to ask for your support as we work to ensure Second Amendment rights are protected for all Americans." But oh no... the asshole had to call and say "THEY'RE COMING TO TAKE YOUR GUNS AND STRIP YOU OF YOUR RIGHTS! BOOGAH BOOGAH BOOGA!!!"
Well fuck that. And fuck the NRA for being such fear-mongering dicks. While the particulars surrounding gun ownership will always be debated, there's not going to be a repeal of the Second Amendment when the majority of Americans support it. And how do I know the majority of American's support it? Oh... IT'S ON THE NRA'S FUCKING WEBSITE!
I suppose now I'm going to get a call from the anti-gun lobby saying "THE NRA WANTS TO FORCE YOUR KIDS TO CARRY GUNS IN SCHOOL!" or some other fear-encrusted bullshit.
It never ends.
And here I thought somebody telling me my handwriting was "stupid" because I don't drop the descenders on my p's and g's and y's and q's was the worst thing that could happen today...
... but instead I had to be reminded that the world sucks ass.
And that sucks ass.
P.S. My handwriting is terrible because I don't hand-write a lot. I mostly type on a computer. And when I do write, it's usually in all-caps. Sometimes I have to use lower-case letters, but I still like everything to fit between the lines on a paper so I move up all the letters that have descenders on them. Is that so wrong?