June 24, 2016

Brexit


Fox News: Britain Votes to Leave the EU

Throughout Europe and the United States, for most of my adult life, anyone who disagreed with the liberal progressive vision of a united world under a single governing body with the power to redistribute wealth from the richest nations to the poorest has been treated with disdain and derision. "Far right", "populist", and "pandering to the lowest common denominator" have been thrown around as slurs against anyone who spoke out to say that maybe the world did not need to be a global empire. Relentlessly, destructively, the forces of utopia have continued to drive the world into something that looks a great deal like the world-spanning evil empire of the anti-christ as described in the Book of Revelation. Even in futurist fiction, there were only two futures seen as being realistically possible: an industrial wasteland with scraps of humanity trapped in a single megalopolis, or a vast nuclear wasteland resulting from global thermonuclear war. The only way to avoid these two dystopian visions has always been seen as the full and complete adoption of a neo-Marxist agenda built on nature worship and mass peasantry under the divine guidance of specially trained bureaucrats.

Today, in the United Kingdom, that utopian vision of a global monarchy has been dealt a punishing setback. News pundits, scholars, politicians, and nobles with ancient bloodlines are aghast at the audacity of the British people to flat out refuse their vision for the future. No doubt in the days, months, and years to come, massive effort will be expended to isolate the United Kingdom, to break it up into its constituent parts, and to prevent other populations around the world from asking if perhaps they too have been misled by the rosy futures pictured by those in the fight to unify the globe.

This was a narrow victory for the people of Great Britain over their own entrenched elites. Already there are some who advocated for a "Brexit" that are calling this vote "revolutionary" and "seismic". It has taken much of the world completely by surprise. I am not going to even try to predict what the fall-out from this vote will be, but I am certain it has completely changed how the next decade will unfold.

Oddly enough, what concerns me is something no one else is looking at. I cannot help but wonder if this vote by the British people has set up a war between China and Russia. These two superpowers both hold the last deeply empowered oligarchies overseeing economies that operate on a global scale. Not even the House of Saud can claim the kind of power and influence of the Chinese State Council or the Russian Council of Ministers. For the duration of Barack Obama's presidency, both Russia and China have taken advantage of Obama's refusal to look beyond the Middle East in order to expand their regional power and increase their regional prestige. Russia has supported moves to divide up the surrounding nations, especially those in Central Asia, into two blocks, pro-Russia and pro-Europe, and then peel away the pro-Russia block and add them to the Russian Federation. China, meanwhile, has continued to integrate Hong Kong into its political and economic framework, to undermine the government of Taiwan, and to secure the entire East China Sea as a combined military and economic zone exclusive to itself. They are rapidly turning the world's fifth largest sea into a massive Chinese lake.

One of the advantages of having Britain in the EU is that it provided a strong, unmistakable opposition to the aggressive expansion of both Russia and China. Many of the major concessions made to the EU by both nations have been the direct result of British lobbying within the halls of power in Brussels. Now that Britain has voted to leave the EU, the EU itself may find that it must turn some of those concessions back to Chinese or Russian benefit in order to survive, prosper, and hold their union together. If this becomes a trend of surrender and capitulation to these two superpowers, then it is entirely possible Russia and China might each decide the world would be better off without the other. A war between Russia and China would be devastating to the world economy, to the global environment, and to the internal politics of everyone else. The opening of such a war would see China moving to neutralize American naval superiority in the Pacific while Russia would be forced to move to neutralize American naval superiority in the Atlantic. If a weakened EU leads to war between China and Russia, then both nations would be forced to attack the United States in the opening days of such a conflict in order to insure the U.S. did not enter the war in support of the other side.

On December 7, 1941 the Japanese Imperial Navy launched a massive attack on the American naval base in Pearl Harbor. They did not want to launch this attack because they did not want the United States to enter the war on the side of the allies in Europe. However, strategically, they knew they had to neutralize the American navy in the Pacific in order to capture Southeast Asia and the Philippines and wrest them away from European colonial powers (as well as American colonial power in the case of the Philippines). That action led irreversibly to their defeat in World War Two. It also forced the American military to develop atomic weapons in order to be certain neither Imperial Japan nor Nazi Germany gained them first. Should China and Russia wind up going to war, they would both find themselves in the same position as Imperial Japan in 1941.

Europe is going to be in chaos for the next few years, possibly for the next decade. This chaos will have economic and political repercussions that will directly affect every single person on the planet. This successful vote in favor of leaving the EU will also have a direct impact on the American presidential election this November. This will dramatically boost the prestige and influence of Donald Trump's campaign because the popular foundation for his campaign is identical to the Brexit advocacy in Great Britain. This victory is the first direct battle in a popular uprising against the half-century long utopian daydream of liberal progressive elites. Now that battle has been joined, there is no telling where it will end, or who will win, but one thing is certain: the entire future of our world has now been dramatically altered.




June 23, 2016

An open letter to Elizabeth Banks and her fans


Dear Elizabeth Banks,

I'm not a fan. I wouldn't even be writing this if one of your fans had not commented on this post, which meant Facebook added it to my newsfeed.

Now I know you're a famous celebrity and all, but seriously, your statement has some internal contradictions and deep ambiguities, this leaves it open to interpretation in a variety of different ways.

"Guns only have one purpose: to harm."

While this statement is factual, the recipient of harm is determined by the person pulling the trigger, not by the gun itself. Regulating firearms into complete non-existence will not remove mass murder from our society. Mass murderers will simply switch to homemade bombs or homemade chlorine/ammonia poison gas dispensers. Mass murder is not difficult to achieve and does not require a firearm.

"We must take gun sense seriously to protect American lives."

Well, yes, but do you and I define "gun sense" in the same way? To my way of thinking, "gun sense" means every American adult should be required by law to own a firearm, learn how to use it effectively, and have it on their person at all times. Many people would disagree with me, but many others would agree. What do you mean by, "gun sense"?

"It's become too easy to hurt each other."

Oh, yes! I wholeheartedly agree! Just look at the firestorm you've generated in your comments. So much hatred and vitriol on both sides of the debate. So much anger and hurt in so many broken lives. Has our common national (and even global) psyche been reduced to such cultural PTSD that we can't even talk to one another any more? That possibility frightens me far more than the firearms I own or the politicians who would love to take them away. (Yes, I know, not all politicians want to confiscate firearms from the American people, but a surprisingly large number of them at all levels of government actually do favor repealing the Second Amendment followed by mass confiscation.)

"Disarm hate, intolerance, and fear."

This is a lovely sentiment. It truly is. However, I cannot imagine any possibility of ever achieving it out here in the real world. Hatred, intolerance, and fear of others is hardwired into the human animal. It is one of the instincts we developed as a species that helped us claw our way to the top of the food chain. We cannot eliminate them from humanity. If we did manage to eliminate them, would we still be human?

Even plants spread poison and arm themselves with thorns. "Good" and "evil" are both completely natural states of existence. It is up to each individual human to decide which they will follow.





June 22, 2016

Democratic Senator Chris Murphy is Delusional



An interviewer for a local ABC news affiliate pushed hard on Senator Chris Murphy (a Democratic Senator from Connecticut) asking repeatedly why he and his colleagues are pushing laws that would have had no impact on any of the recent mass shootings which have horrified so many of us and taken so many innocent lives. The Senator's reply,

So first of all, we can’t get into that trap. I disagree, I think if this proposal had been into effect it may have stopped the shooting. But we can’t get into the trap in which we are forced to defend our proposal simply because it didn’t stop the last tragedy.

When I was a very young child my grandmother was fond of telling me, "could have, would have, and should have, harvest no corn." I don't know of a single American on either side of the contentious and fiery debate over the Second Amendment who would like to see another Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, or Orlando style mass shooting. We all oppose the insane cowards, vicious thugs, and outright terrorists who engage in these shootings. We all mourn the loss of life that occurs when the wrong person gets their hands on a modern firearm. Everyone I know has the same emotional response to these tragedies. Pro-gun, anti-gun, or indifferent, we all feel the same when we see the news reports and watch the death toll climb.

Feelings and emotions are irrational by nature. At some point we must step beyond those emotions and analyze the situation with our rational minds. We must let the facts stand on their own, without bias, and attempt to reach a conclusion about how to respond in a way that will both reduce the likelihood of another mass shooting and limit the casualties should one occur. After all, this is the real-world goal of both the pro-gun and anti-gun elements in American society. Both groups have a vested interest in preventing the next mass shooting, or failing that, in at least minimizing the casualties. Both groups believe in the very fiber of their being that their position is the "common sense" approach.

The only thing a "common sense" argument ever proves is that there is no such thing as "common sense".

Over the past five years there have been more innocent Americans murdered by assault weapons than in the entire history of semi-automatic rifles. This is a simple fact. Most people, including myself, find it to be a very ugly and horrific fact, but it is still a fact. The reason this number has climbed so high is not simple, and stopping this trend will not take a simple solution. Every popular argument both for and against gun control is overly simplified. Everyone wants a simple answer to a simple fact, but sometimes that is simply not realistic.

The Sandy Hook shooter murdered his mother with a handgun then stole her rifle and killed 26 people, including 20 children. The San Bernardino shooter bought his rifle from a neighbor, but even if he had bought it at a gun store he would have passed a background check and been allowed to make the purchase. The Orlando shooter was not only legally entitled to make his purchase, he was a fully certified armed guard with specialized training in active shooter tactics so he knew ahead of time how the police would respond to him. Technically, the rifle used in Orlando was internally different than the rifles used in Sandy Hook and San Bernardino. However, all three (well, four actually) rifles were semi-automatics chambered for .223 Remington/5.56 NATO ammunition, equipped with pistol grips, and fed with 30-round magazines. These are all simple facts.

A firearm is a tool. While it is indeed true that in the hands of a mass murderer a semi-automatic rifle chambered in .223/5.56 and fed with 30-round magazines will do a great deal of damage in a very short amount of time, that does not mean we could somehow magically reduce the death toll by eliminating any of these three features. The firearm is just a tool, no different than two barrels of chlorine and ammonia spilled together in the middle of a busy intersection, or a barrel of nitrate rich fertilizer ignited with a firecracker in front of a federal building. These are just tools, easily obtained by anyone and everyone on any given day with little or restrictions. If anything, the rifle is the hardest of the three to acquire because if purchased at a gun dealer the person must pass a background check. It does not matter where you purchase chlorine, ammonia, or nitrate-heavy fertilizer, you can freely buy in bulk and never have to worry about background checks. The biggest problem is figuring out some way to deliver them to your target and then activate their inherent deadly potential.

Attempting to control criminals by controlling access to their favorite tools simply moves them to their second or third choices. Even if by some magic we could remove "assault rifles" from our society, we would immediately see an increase in bombings. The problem is not the tool. The problem is the mind that uses the tool for mass murder. The only real "weapon" in the world is the human brain. People create weapons and use them to kill. The weapons do not contain some mystical or magical power that inspires people to use them for mass murder. The mass murderer first conceives of the desire to slaughter innocents and then goes looking for a tool that will make their plan possible. Unfortunately, we can't outlaw thinking. Well, I suppose such laws could be passed, but they would not stop someone from dreaming up plans for mass slaughter.

Murder, even mass murder, is part of being human. As long as we have humans, we will have mass murderers. Sen. Murphy and people like him are completely delusional. I'm not saying that everyone in favor of gun control is delusional. I'm saying that someone is delusional when they demand, "we need such and such to prevent the next mass murder," even after their opposition points out that their proposal would have had zero impact on previous mass murderers. To insist, "I know it will not make a difference, but I think it might!" is what makes this kind of thinking delusional.

As my grandmother was so very fond of saying, "could have, would have, and should have, harvest no corn."





June 20, 2016

A perfect example of delusional thinking


This is a "news" article by a well-respected reporter working at the Chicago Sun-Times:

Would be Terrorists Can Buy Guns, but not a Reporter

Delusional thinking begins right in the very first line, "There’s something soothing about buying a gun."

He states this point blank as if this emotional response is somehow true for every gun buyer, every time. This is not a "fact". This is, at best, an assumption on his part about the emotional state of the American gun buyer. It is an extrapolation from his own emotional state which he then projects onto every single gun buyer in America for every single purchase they make.

I have bought, sold, and traded several firearms. All told, probably around a score. Currently there are around a dozen in my gun safe. None of these transactions has ever been "soothing" for me. Some were exciting because I stumbled across a rare, limited edition firearm at a bargain price. Some were no different than buying a gallon of milk. Some where annoying because without explanation or reason, the ATF delayed approving my purchase for 72 hours. Some were startling, with the gun shop owner handing me the phone and the ATF agent asking me several questions to clarify my identity. Apparently a few years ago there was a fellow out in California with the same name who had been involved in a drunk driving accident and then later the same night raped a woman he knew. Until they arrested this fellow, every single time I had to interact with the federal government I got quizzed about how long I'd lived in Ohio, where I'd lived before, and if I could prove any of it.

I don't know what fantasy land these reporters live in where it is "easy" to buy an AR-15 clone. The one AR clone I bought is also the transaction where the ATF quizzed me over the phone in the middle of the gun shop. About a year ago I sold that rifle to a friend, who still has it. Between the ages of 49 and 55 my eyesight decayed enough that the iron sights were too difficult for me to use. My friend swapped out the upper, mounted a $600 varmint scope on it, and now he tells it is his second favorite rifle.

In the second paragraph of the article, Mr. Steinberg waxes poetic in his effort to paint a sunny summer day as dark and gothic simply because he is on his way to buy a gun. This is not factual reporting. This is pure fiction.

In his article, Mr. Steinberg goes to great lengths to introduce anonymous neighbors and friends, each more dark and frightening than the next. One neighbor has high fences and electronic security, so Mr. Steinberg "assumes" this neighbor also owns firearms. This is not a fact. This is an assumption. This is pure paranoid imagination on behalf of Mr. Steinberg. It is nothing more than plain old bigotry fueled by delusional paranoia. Mr. Steinberg also introduces an alcoholic "friend" who owns firearms and implies his friend is suicidal. After advising his friend to turn over all of his firearms to someone else, Mr. Steinberg leaves the reader with the very clear impression that his friend is dangerously depressed, and yet, there is no indication Mr. Steinberg has referred his friend to either law enforcement or social services. A simple phone call to any suicide prevention hotline would provide his friend a proactive counselor who would regularly call and visit his friend and attempt to guide his friend out of his depressed state. Law enforcement in either Illinois or California has the legal right to descend on his friend's house with a search warrant and collect those firearms "to insure public safety and individual welfare" simply on the basis of a single phone call from Mr. Steinberg. Neither of these calls have been made and apparently the friend has not committed suicide, making his inclusion in this article pure paranoia on behalf of Mr. Steinberg. In short, yet another delusion that is presented as a fact.

In the end, the gun shop holds the firearm overnight, and during this time they learn about Mr. Steinberg's own history of alcohol abuse and domestic violence. As a result, they refuse to sell him the firearm and refund the full purchase price. Mr. Steinberg then asserts, with no factual basis, that the only reason he was denied is because he told the gun shop the truth about being a journalist. Naturally his insists that this paranoid assumption of his is somehow magically a "fact".

This article is not a news report. It is not even a factual presentation of Mr. Steinberg's experience. This article is simple, ordinary, run-of-the-mill propaganda. That is all it is, pure, anti-gun propaganda. It is more fictional than my fantasy novel, "Magic Lessons".

It is a sad fact that there was no legal reason to deny either the San Bernardino terrorist nor the Orlando terrorist the right to purchase an AR-15 clone. Both were legally entitled to make those purchases. It is an equally sad fact that out of the tens of millions of AR-15 clones sold in the United States over the past five years, two of them wound up being used in terror attacks with horrifying numbers of dead and wounded.

There will be more of these style attacks. I believe they are going to increase in both frequency and severity. Thousands of people are going to die in such attacks over the next decade. There is only one way to slow down the slaughter: more responsible, law-abiding firearm owners with sufficient training to pin down, distract, or even kill the terrorist the minute they open fire. There is no other solution. More gun control laws making it harder for ordinary Americans to buy firearms, get professional training in using a firearm for self-defense, and then carry those firearms everyday, will increase the slaughter astronomically as more and more terrorists finds their victims unarmed, untrained, and unprotected.

Increasing taxes to pay for more police will have the same effect as increased gun control laws. Put the two together, increase both gun control and the presence of law enforcement, and before you know it the United States of America will have become a police state ruled by a dictator. That is the inevitable, unavoidable result of depending on the government to protect you. The only way to remain free is to arm and protect yourself. Being responsible for your own personal self-defense is paramount in a world where insane criminals driven by a violent religious ideology can strike anytime, anywhere. Until radical Islam has been completely replaced by peaceful Islam, terror will continue unabated. You must learn to protect yourself. Like it or not, you are the first line of defense in a terror attack. Not the police, not the FBI, not Homeland Security, and not the military. You are the person on the ground when the terrorist opens fire, therefore, you must be prepared to defend yourself.

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(June 21, 2016
Edit: I removed one paragraph that incorrectly cited the location of Maxon Shooting Supply.)





June 17, 2016

Book Review: Cam Girl, by Leah Raeder


I have many problems with the story in this book. To be honest, I'm not even sure why I bought it or how long it has been in my library. As fate would have it, I finally began reading it the day before the mass shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Jung's beloved synchronicity drives some of the worst nightmares in my life and this past few days has been no exception. However, my personal responses to this book are irrelevant.

"Cam Girl", by Leah Raeder is a masterpiece of artistic modern realism. It is built on a foundation of self-loathing finding redemption through self-acceptance guided by artistic thinking. Color is key to everything in the book. The metaphors, the foreshadowing, the inner life of the main character, all of it is wrapped up in a constantly shifting kaleidoscope of color. For someone who is not accustomed to artistic thinking, this is going to be a very confusing read, while anyone whose life is immersed in color and form will find depths and layers here that are extremely difficult to find in modern writing. That does not mean they will like what they find.

The story opens with a car accident described in time-lapse perfection. It unfolds in eerie, haunting precision moment by moment with each tiny detail wrapped in colors that at first seem unrealistically lurid and flamboyant. Each of these colors gains greater depth and meaning as the story itself opens up in the reader's mind. Vada, the main character, is an artist. As a result of this accident she loses her ability to draw and paint. The inability to express herself creates a huge reservoir of self-loathing that drives her down one self-destructive path after another. Her redemption finally arrives in "Blue", a client of her life as a cam girl that showers her with praise, guides her in self-examination, and releases her from the isolation created by the loss of her art. Along the way there is a colorful cast of wacky characters, all of them bent, broken, tortured souls cast adrift on the ocean of life and left to sink or swim on their own volition. No one helps anyone and yet everyone helps everyone, but the key to this story is the relationship between Vada and Blue.

This book is a technical and artistic masterpiece. The story itself is not one that resonates in my life. However, I can see how many people in today's world, both those who are gender-fluid and those who are trying to support someone who is gender-fluid, will gain a deeper understand of themselves and their relationships through reading this book.

Some of us have to learn everything the hard way. Those are the people who will read this book over and over again for the comfort it brings them.



June 16, 2016

Bigotry


Today, I'm going to preach a little.

Politicians, activists, scholars, and all the rest of us are very fond of throwing around words we don't really understand. It is very easy for us to divide the world into a small number of distinct boxes, give each box a label, then mark it as "ally" or "enemy". We do this because millions of years ago we wandered the surface of a very dangerous planet in very small groups. Not only were we the favorite prey of every nightmare with teeth and claws, we were also the favorite prey of one another. Did you ever wonder why the vast majority of Australopithecus we find hidden in the darkest corners of our world are female? Did you ever wonder why most of them are retrieved from strata associated with lake beds or river bottoms? Apparently, we have been murdering each other for as long as we have been different from every other ape in existence. It also appears we have been using the same techniques to hide the bodies: we weight them down and sink them in water.

So let me set the record straight: you are a bigot. You are a bigot because being a bigot insured the survival of your ancestors. It is hardwired into your DNA. We are all bigots. We individually choose different targets for hatred, distrust, and jealousy, but it does not matter which particular target you are focused on. One simple fact of being human is that every single day of your life you dump people into an imaginary category and then draw assumptions about their internal landscape based on the category you, yourself created for them. I don't care how openminded you believe yourself to be, if you assume someone who disagrees with you is simply wrong then you are a bigot. You have always been a bigot. You will always be a bigot. Accept it and get used to it.

So who is it you mistrust, hate, or envy? Christians? Muslims? Bankers? Gays? Straights? Blacks? Whites? Asians? Politicians? Which category of humanity do you hold in utter contempt, refuse to accept as normal, and seek ways to defeat or avoid? As long as you think of them as a distinct category with identical behaviors then you are a bigot. Do you believe all bankers are rich, greedy, and always on the lookout for ways to deprive you from your hard-earned cash? That is bigotry. Do you believe all heterosexual men are potential rapists who cannot be trusted alone with your spouse, with your female friends, or with your daughter? That is bigotry. Do you believe all lesbians dream of having their own penis, are jealous of men, hate men, and are looking for ways to destroy men? That is bigotry. Any time you lump people together as "rednecks", "racists", "liberals", "fags", "cismales", "lunatics", "psycho-bitches", "deadbeat dads", "loser moms", so forth and so on, you are practicing your very own, individual brand of bigotry. So before you scream at someone else and call them a bigot, make sure you take a long, hard look in a mirror because I can promise you this much: there is definitely an unrecognized bigot living inside you. It is part and parcel of being human. Whoever you are, if you are reading this then you are most certainly human.

There is, however, something you can do. You can learn to recognize your own bigotry. You can tame it, manage it, and refuse to accept the assumptions it feeds you. First you must identify your particular brand of bigotry. Being honest with yourself is the first step and nothing will change until you take that step. Once you have figured out what your particular brand of bigotry is, teach yourself to watch for it.

Let me give you an example of my own. I distrust and generally despise men who spend their every waking hour looking for ways to demonstrate their masculinity. My assumption is that every macho man is secretly (and sometimes openly) homosexual with a high potential for raping both young boys and young women. My assumption is they will exploit the first sign of weakness they encounter and I will have to be prepared to defend someone weaker against their predation. Any man who slams his beer on the bar, who insults women, who speaks of women as if sex is their only value, who "fucks" but never loves and then accuses other men of being "pussy-whipped", raises a storm of red flags in my mind. Every tough guy is potentially a dangerous deviant that I am going to be forced to put down in order to protect someone I love. This is the bigotry that works in me every single day of my life. This bigotry formed in my childhood for a number of very valid reasons, but it is still unjustifiable and destructive. I have to force my mind to overlook those red flags, listen to what one of these men is saying, pay attention to how they are actually living their life, and consciously seek out the positive aspects of their personality. This is a huge emotional and mental burden. As a result, if I don't watch my own mind closely I will find myself completely dismissing certain men and assuming they are dangerous felons who need to be eliminated before they cause irreparable damage. This bigotry of mine is also one of the reasons I love cop shows so much.

The flipside of this bigotry is I am drawn to weakness. If I perceive weakness in someone my first instinct is to guard and protect them. In my relationships I tend to always be focused on looking for ways to help the people around me become stronger, more self-sufficient, and better able to protect themselves. This side of my bigotry is clearly visible in almost every post I have ever made to this blog, and will remain easily discernible in every post I make in the future. It is part and parcel of who I am. In my own life, I consciously look for ways to replace the darker side of my personal bigotry with the better side. It is difficult, and requires enormous emotional effort, but I force myself to look for the good in men my mind wants to label as dangerous and find ways to move them into the ally category in full defiance of my heart's desire to completely dismiss them.

Most people who read this are now asking themselves why I wrote it, or even more scandalous, why am I posting it to the internet where every living soul with a computer or smartphone can read it? I am writing this post because bigotry is destroying our world. The internet has made it possible for everyone to throw their opinions out into the wilds of cyberspace, gather allies, and declare war on their personal enemy categories. Social media written by LGBT advocates seethes with hatred of traditional gender roles along with anyone whose lifestyle is based on traditional gender roles. In the name of "diversity" and "openmindedness" they condemn, criticize, ridicule, and seek to humiliate anyone who is not a member of the LGBT community. Young children who are straight wonder if being straight is inherently evil while young children who are not straight wonder if being queer makes them hated by everyone who is straight. Battle lines are drawn. Suddenly, 49 dead and 53 wounded in a vicious mass murder become the rallying cry for some of the most insane political posturing I have ever seen in my life. Black children are taught to fear cops because cops are looking to murder them while white children are taught to fear black children because they are worthless gangsters from broken homes. Young people in their twenties honestly believe the world is composed of warring camps. They believe in the very core of their humanity that they must choose to join one camp, and only one camp, in order to have allies that will protect them from everyone else. Many of our nation's children are emotionally scarred for life simply because their parents, their school teachers, their church leaders, and their neighbors spoke out in daily rants filled with vicious hatred of imaginary social categories. Growing up surrounded by this chaos leaves the child afraid to develop their own individual identity. They fear more than anything else that if they make a few wrong choices they will wind up the enemy of everyone they love. We are destroying future generations by insisting that our world divide itself into all of these thousands upon thousands of warring camps that simply cannot accept one another as human.

This must stop, and it must stop now. Sadly, even if it does stop, it might be too late. There is no telling how many young people will mature into working, voting adults who cannot think objectively. We might even have already arrived at a point where "objective" thinking itself is assumed to be insane and delusional. Our culture might have already passed so far down this road that it has become "sane" and "normal" to divide everyone into enemy camps. This is clearly seen in the way that whichever camp happens to currently control the political and legal infrastructure of our world now feels they have a sacred duty to create legal frameworks designed to imprison or limit everyone who expresses dissent. When bigotry becomes culture it is fascism. We all know where fascism leads.

I say, "This must stop, and it must stop now," but I fear with every fiber of my being that it is already too late.




June 14, 2016

Replace fear with vigilance



What really turns my stomach about attacks like the ones in Orlando and San Bernardino is not that some lunatic grabbed a gun and started shooting people. There will always be lunatics determined to slaughter as many innocents as possible. If we deny them guns, they will build bombs from fertilizer or poison gas from household cleaning supplies. No, what really turns my stomach are the stories of people cowering under tables and in bathroom stalls begging for their lives. This is not who we are.

The greatness of the United States of America has never been linked to some magical quality in our Constitution or some mythical divine power bestowed upon our leaders by the heavens above. The core of American greatness has always been the American people. Individuals, millions upon millions of individuals, who refused to let evil win in tiny, disparate, day to day confrontations. Americans have always been vigilant, they always been on the look out for predatory humans seeking destruction, and they have always countered them every time they appeared. Somehow that has all changed. Far too many modern Americans are wholly and completely dependent on someone else. We depend on the government to protect us, we depend on our aging parents to shelter us, we depend on our teachers to instruct us, we depend on lawyers and accountants to manage our daily affairs, we depend on psychologists and psychiatrists to help us feel good about ourselves. Very few Americans in this day and age are willing to stand alone against the forces of society and nature and declare, "This is mine. I built it. I will protect it. You cannot take it from me."

What has happened to us? Why are we cowering in toilet stalls waiting for the SWAT people to come rescue us? Have we already forgotten the lesson of Flight 93? When a terrorist shows up with his homemade bombs and scary looking black assault rifle, the person in front of him is the first line of defense for everyone in the room. If that person falls, the rest of the room still massively outnumbers the gunman. If enough people respond by throwing chairs, by charging the gunman, or by shooting back, the attack will be halted and countless lives will be saved.

You can do this. You can learn to defend yourself against a terrorist armed with an assault rifle. It really is not all that difficult to do, if you plan for it ahead of time and take the necessary steps to be prepared. The fist thing you must do is always be aware of your surroundings. Don't park your car at the far end of the parking lot to protect the finish from door strikes by clumsy drivers and don't park it as close to the door as possible in order to save yourself a few steps of walking. Park your car in a place that is well-lit, easy to find, easy to return to, and offers good visibility when you return so you can spot a carjacker or mugger laying in wait to ambush you. As you enter a building, whether it is your office, your school, your home, or a shopping mall, the first thing you should do is locate all of the exits and find a map that will show you the layout. Look around for places you can use to provide solid, bullet-stopping cover while you formulate a response. Look for ways to exit out a back door and return through the front so you can ambush the shooter from behind. Look for people who don't belong there. Be aware of anyone standing around taking pictures of emergency exits and security guards. Don't walk around assuming everyone you meet is a potential terrorist, but do take a moment to create a plan for how to respond if a terrorist shows up.

Understand, first and foremost, that the most important weapon you possess is your brain. Guns, knives, bombs, and blunt objects are merely tools. The real weapon is your ability to analyze your surroundings and develop counter-strategies to anyone seeking to do you harm. This is not hard to learn. There are hundreds of books, thousands of online videos, and dozens of professional instructors all just sitting out there waiting for you to pick them up, click on the appropriate link, run the appropriate web search, or call them on the phone. You don't have to become a Navy Seal or Army Ranger to learn how to protect yourself. Their job becomes important only after your job fails. Your job is to learn how to protect yourself, and by protecting yourself, protect your family and friends. Your job is to keep the terrorist off-balance and on the defense long enough for your loved ones to escape and professional help to arrive.

I dream of a day when the news will stop reporting on all the people cowering in toilet stalls waiting to die. This day will not come because evil people no longer exist. This day will only arrive when the stories of vigilant citizens who perform heroically under fire are so frequent and so overwhelming that they become the first stories told every time a lunatic pulls out a gun and starts shooting.

Don't be the person cowering in the toilet. Be the one who kept the terrorist occupied long enough for your friends and family to escape. Better yet, be the one who went out the back, returned through the front, and ambushed the terrorist while they were reloading.



June 13, 2016

49 people have died and everyone responds with more hatred


I am 55 years old. I started my cyberspace adventure back in the days of Usenet and homebrewed BBS forums. I have witnessed and participated in online flame wars the likes of which these modern kids cannot even begin to imagine. Never in my life have I seen anything like the last 24-hour news cycle. Politicians, business leaders, academics, pro-gun advocates, anti-gun advocates, pro-LGBT advocates, anti-LGBT advocates, all of them on television and internet news sites pouring out hatred and vitriol and blaming everyone and everything for the violence in Orlando.

Everyone except Omar Mateen himself. He gets a free pass.

For some reason absolutely no one is attacking the man who actually pulled the trigger and gunned down over a hundred people out on the town for a night of dancing and drinks, nor is anyone calling him names. I suppose I should be grateful that so far the only people actually defending him are ISIS Twitter feeds, but still...he killed 49 people and wounded 53 others! Shouldn't that generate at least some anger and hatred? Instead, Donald Trump is labelled a homophobe, Hilary Clinton is labelled a feminazi, I get labelled a fat pig (which is actually more a compliment than an insult, but whatever), Barack Obama is labelled a Muslim fascist, on and on and on and on. These are not schoolyard bullies throwing these labels around. Many of these commentators are educated people raised in good homes and occupying positions of enormous social influence.

I turn on CNNj looking for an update and within 3 minutes the interviewer broadcasts a cherry-picked quote from Donald Trump ignoring qualifiers and supplemental clauses in order to broadcast five words that might, maybe, if you are very creative, be twisted into an insult aimed at the LGBT community, and then demands the interviewee offer a response. After a short pause (receiving advice through his earpiece, I wonder?), the interviewee attacks Donald Trump and calls him a homophobe.

An LGBT advocacy group posts to Facebook ignoring the radical Islamic beliefs of the shooter, ignoring his father's weekly anti-west rants on an Afghani YouTube channel, ignoring that the club was a gun-free zone, ignoring that Florida law prohibits concealed carry in nightclubs even if the armed person is not drinking, and even ignoring that the first victim to fall to the gunman was a unarmed, white, male, heterosexual, off-duty police officer working security at the front door, in order to boldly assert that this act of war proves masculinity is toxic and needs to be cleansed from all human thinking.

A pro-gun advocate who a few years ago I admired greatly but more recently can barely stomach uses his mass media podium to ignore groups like Pink Pistols in order to attack the "militant gay rights terrorists who are using this tragedy to further their anti-American agenda." Maybe this guy is one of those individuals who embody the "toxic masculinity" the other group was ranting against? Maybe he's just tired of being labeled a terrorist because he enjoys participating in IDPA tournaments? Either way, his column is not helping.

Some of my more liberal progressive relatives have begun flooding my Facebook feed with articles demanding "an end to the anger and hatred", which on the surface is definitely something I can agree with. Unfortunately, every time I open the link and read it what I find is yet one more op-ed denouncing every single American gun owner as a potential terrorist or proclaiming "the time has come to eliminate the oppressive white patriarchy that is destroying America!". But the shooter wasn't white...how could his actions possibly be indicative of loyalty to a white patriarchy?

I don't understand. How can so many millions of people in a single sentence call for love while spewing hatred? I'm really good at unwinding paradoxes and dichotomies. I have spent my entire life reading science fiction and mystery fiction, both of which specialize in presenting an impossible paradox only to reveal the solution some 300 pages later. And yet, that skill is completely useless for understanding the mass hysteria that has spread throughout the United States, across Europe, and into most of the modern world. Russian politicians praise Russian hooligans for starting riots at soccer games, American politicians blame each other for a mass shooting none of them have any relation to, American academics blame the rest of us for creating a society that encourages violence, everyone hates everyone for every reason under the sun, while I'm over here in Japan wondering if I am the only sane person left on the planet (which, of course, clearly indicates I'm the crazy one).

I don't believe we can eliminate violence in our society. Clearly, hatred and anger are very easy emotions to fall into. For some people, violence is the first form of communication they employ when something makes them angry, fills them with fear, or triggers an outburst of hatred. This will always be true. However, why have we as a society embraced a culture that encourages an outpouring of vitriol every time some lunatic picks up a gun and starts shooting people? How is this helping us cope with mass murder? Is it helping us cope? Is it not far more likely that when hatred and anger become a normal part of public discourse we are encouraging the next lunatic?

I don't know. I don't have any answers. After all, I'm supposed to be the crazy one.



June 12, 2016

50 more victims and still no one wants to face reality


Some of my harshest critics have long assumed I am no friend to the LGBT community. Reading is hard, I suppose. It is easier to make assumptions based on a headline ("Gay marriage is not about love") than to spend fifteen or twenty minutes reading what I have written. One of the great advantages of the modern internet is the ability to block obnoxious people so completely that it is as if they do not even exist. One of the disadvantages is that this power also makes it easy to immerse oneself in a single point of view.

Yesterday, a radical Islamic terrorist shot up a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida (Fox News: 50 killed in Florida nightclub shooting). This brutal attack on a crowd of people out for a night on the town is not acceptable. There is no excuse for walking into a crowded entertainment venue and killing people simply because their religious, political, or lifestyle choices are different from your own. It cannot be tolerated.

The Supreme Court of the United States of America recently decided in a 5-4 decision that "gay marriage" is legally protected by the same laws and conventions that protect traditional marriage (Wikipedia: Obegefell vs. Hodges). While I do not agree with this decision, I have also stated many times before in this blog (Brian's Meandering Mind: Homosexuality, Christianity, and Me) that every individual has the God-given right to live their life in accordance with their own choices provided those choices do not interfere with the same freedom held by others. No nation or community has the right to determine a blanket moral code for everyone in that community and then impose strict punishments for non-compliance. ISIS patrols do not have the right to throw homosexuals off of rooftops and terrorists do not have the right to kill an LGBT crowd out enjoying a night on the town. No one has the right to assault them, to harass them, or to shoot them. They are entitled to the same freedoms and benefits as anyone who is not a member of the LGBT community, and vice versa. Rather than incorporate "gay marriage" into traditional marriage through an off-the-cuff redefining of a single word, I would have preferred to remove government from marriage entirely. What is the point of a marriage license anyway? If two people are a lifelong couple, then they are a lifelong couple. Why do we need a piece of paper issued by a government authority to prove it?

I have never once suggested or advocated that violence against the LGBT community is somehow acceptable. Not in this case. Not in any case. Anyone who advocates for violence directed against the LGBT community just because their lifestyle does not conform to the Bible (or the Qur'an, or any other religious text) will find me defending the rights of the LGBT community to their own lifestyle. This shooting in Orlando does not belong in the political realm of LGBT rights. This act of barbarism is an attack on American freedoms and the American way of life. This is a bloody military assault by an enemy combatant who has infiltrated our society, taken advantage of our freedoms, and slaughtered innocent non-combatants in the name of a political ideology disguised as a religion. Even worse, we now know that another attack was planned for an LGBT parade in Los Angeles (Fox News: Man set to attend Gay Pride Parade arrested with stockpile of weapons)!

Right now I am worried that these two incidents are neither isolated nor coincidental. As I have pointed out before (Brian's Meandering Mind: A Deadly, Persistent Swarm of Gnats Revisited), these kind of attacks are going to increase in both frequency and severity. This is the preferred strategy among the current crop of the world's terrorists. This is a very good strategy for a widely dispersed fighting force with limited resources and limited access to weapons. A handful of grenades (or homemade pipe bombs) and a few hundred rounds of ammunition can do incredible damage in a very short amount of time when they are used against a tightly packed, unarmed crowd. The key to countering this style of warfare is to insure everyone in every crowd has the freedom to carry a firearm. The more trained firearm owners there are present in a crowded public venue, the less likelihood there is that a swarm-style attack can gain the kind of momentum it needs to inflict massive casualties. More police is not the answer. Better equipped police is not the answer. Having military personnel guarding public places is not the answer. The only viable, time-tested, and consistently proven strategy to counter swarm dynamics is an armed and trained populace.

Even though an armed society is a polite society, people will still die. There will still be idiots killing each other over disloyal lovers, gambling debts, unfair prices at the gas pump, and aggressive driving. All the things the anti-gun crowd fears are valid concerns. However, we as a society have a choice to make: we can prosecute our own idiots every time they kill someone in a violent outburst or we can collapse under the weight of terrorists and armed gangsters who slaughter us in movie theaters, nightclubs, shopping malls, churches, schools, government offices, and other "gun-free" zones.

Personally, I would prefer prosecuting the idiots to empowering the terrorists. Life can never be perfectly free of violence, but the violence can be minimized.