chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
Stuff I found of interest.

A) Jim Wright on Trump's cabinet: "So far we've got The Idle Rich, Billionaires and Bankers, a couple of Evil Doctors, the Soap Queen sister of a mercenary, a Grand Wizard, Mad Dog Mattis, and Caribou Barbie

It's less like Donald Trump building a cabinet ...

... and more like Lex Luthor assembling a League of Super Villains."


B) The title says it all: Democrats, skip the civil war.

C) On stopping gun violence: Ya gotta go after the shooters.

D) I've met the author and I've pre-ordered the book.

chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
Thought #1 - "A Troubled Loner"

It seems that any time a black or Muslim man shoots somebody he shouldn't, that's proof of terrorism and conspiracy. Yet when a white man with a history of waving Confederate flags at black people shots somebody, we're told that they are "a troubled loner." In the latest case, it would be more accurate to call them a habitual criminal and violent racist.

Thought #2 - Making Water

It's said that necessity is the mother of invention. Israel, the driest country in the world, needed fresh water. So they invented cheap desalinization. Of note in the article - the same drought that forced Israel to make water let to the collapse of Syrian agriculture and the creation of large slums on the outskirts of Syrian cities. These led to the current civil war. Note to libertarians - either government takes care of the poor or the poor take care of government, French-revolution style.

Thought #3 - the Ghost Fleet of WWI

On a lighter note, in World War I, the US started an emergency program to replace merchant ships lost due to U-boats. Like much of our efforts in that war, the fighting was done by the time the ships were built. They were also uneconomical to operate, so they were left to rot in Mallows Bay. The wooden ships have created fascinating ship-shaped islands.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
Today's post is later than usual due to a busy morning.

A) Having merely pointed at Scalzi's post yesterday on Brexit and saying "me too" let me today point at Scalzi's newest post on Brexit and say "me too."

B) Game of Thrones a TV show that I do not watch, had a big medieval battle scene in it. Various people are complaining of inaccuracies, including the idea that the cavalry (well, armored knights) arrive to save the day, unbeknownst to the Big Bad. I remind people that at Waterloo, Napoleon knew the Prussians were in the area and had detached a Corp to fend them off, yet the Prussian arrival forced his retreat.

C) Chuck Wendig talks about common sense gun control. I note the article primarily to point out that there is a divide in gun culture from "old school" (Chuck and I) and "new school." The new school types seem to want everybody to have a gun instantly to hand.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
Thought One - Annie Oakley

One of the things that gripes my ass are the Gun Store Experts who tell me that, had they been at the Shooting Of The Week, they would have dropped the Bad Dude. Maybe yes, maybe no...

Shots In The Dark, or, How I Became A Sharpshooter.

Thought Two - Thinking It Through

So, one of the things Trump and his supporters have been saying regarding Orlando is that we've been attacked and need to hit back. "It's an act of war!" So does that make the shooter a soldier? Who should we hit back at? I mean, our bombing of ISIS is what caused the shooter to go get a gun. If we're at war with Islam, then as this guy asks how exactly does a nation prosecute a war against a leaderless entity with multiple subgroups?

When one asks these questions of Trump and his supporters, one gets either an angry glare, vague platitudes or a repetition of the initial statement. One does not get actionable ideas.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
Yesterday I made a rather off-hand remark that America was the place that amended the Constitution to ban booze, suggesting that we could change the Constitution with regards to guns. I'm not advocating that, rather predicting / warning it's possible, and I'd like to unpack that thought a bit. Part of my job as science fiction writer is to think of the future.

First, I don't think America will ban all guns. I do think we could get an amendment empowering Congress to greatly restrict gun ownership, specifically types of guns and rules for the transfer of same. However, my interest today is in how such an amendment gets passed.

If one looks at Prohibition, the coalition that got it passed consisted of rural Protestants upset at urban immigration and women. Prior to deregulated divorce, domestic violence laws and the destigmatization of women working outside the home, having an alcoholic as a father or husband was disastrous to women. So, despite a majority of Americans being drinkers (and heavy ones, by modern standards) booze got banned.

Alas, gun owners are already in a minority. Owners of AR-15s, 2-3 million of them, are less than 1% of Americans. So far, this minority has been able to hold the line.

The Orlando shooting appears to be of a type that, if we see more of them, may crack that line. Here we have a son of immigrants, known to police as a problem, who goes and buys a high-capacity weapon which he uses a week later to hose down a public venue. I could see urban voters bonding with war on terror types over whatever legislation it would take to prevent these kinds of attacks.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
In thinking of the events of Orlando, it seems we in America have two inter-related problems. The first problem is areas of our country have high rates of violence, which at the moment get expressed with guns. To be more clear, if you wave your magic wand and all the guns on the south side of Chicago stop working, the gangbangers will be banging each other with bats and knives by lunchtime. Removing guns may marginally reduce the body count, but it won't stop violence.

The second problem we have is crazies with guns. And yes, the Orlando shooter was crazy. Anybody who has to call 911 to pledge allegiance to ISIS is crazy. The FBI (per linked article) found no evidence he was linked to ISIS, other than a general desire to kill people. The shooter was born in America of Afghan parents, AKA "not Syrian" AKA "possibly not even the same branch of Islam as ISIS."

At any rate, we know exactly how to greatly reduce the "crazies with guns" problem, which is uniquely American. The answer is to reduce the number of guns available and make them generally harder to get. Of special interest is to reduce the number of high-capacity semiautomatic rifles and pistols. These weapons make it entirely too easy to go from a 4-person shooting to a 24-person shooting.

I'm personally and generally against banning these weapons, and any ban would have to involve a buy-back. Having said that, we have two choices - mass shootings or reductions in guns. I suspect that sooner or later a gun ban will happen. This is the nation that wrote a Constitutional amendment banning booze.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
Over the weekend, I took my concealed carry course via Roy and Company in a nearby suburb. I have no immediate intentions to carry a gun. However, concealed carry permits are much like parachutes - if you ever need one, you need it right away and don't have time to go shopping for it. Due to the wide variation in state licensing standards and reciprocity, I took a multi-state class, which included training for Utah and Florida non-resident permits. The three of them give the broadest coverage available.

The class itself was underwhelming. The two old fogies teaching it were knowledgeable, although I had to put up with more than a little political BS. (Did you know that the Oklahoma City bombing was an inside job?) Since I was there to get training, not argue politics, I kept my mouth shut. There were only six of us, so it was a quick class.

The Illinois statute is poorly-written, with several clear cut-and-paste errors, and can be contradictory. All the contradictions were pointed out as proof of Madigan's conspiracy against gun-owners as opposed to errors, but again, not there for the politics. Illinois, unique among concealed carry states, requires one to actually shoot a weapon. This does not have to be the weapon one plans on carrying.

This class provided all materials needed, from pens and paper to a gun and bullets. We shot a small-frame .22 semi-auto. It was the same size as and mechanically functioned like a typical concealed carry 9 MM, just chambered in .22. I (and the rest of the class) had no problem scoring enough hits to pass the test. Now my task is to assemble all the various applications, pictures and related paperwork and send it off to the correct locations.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
Trivial

I continue to have good luck with weather, having been able to get all my tasks done yesterday while avoiding driving in snow. I'm going to a New Year's Eve party tonight - it's a new to-me venue - so we'll see how successful it is.

Serious

I've stated before that I think the US has a violence problem, not a gun-control problem. I've also stated that this is due to income disparities. Well, Josh Marshall thinks it's a cultural problem.

To over-simplify, 17 of the top 20 countries in the world with high murder rates are in the Americas. Also, US murder rates vary wildly by region. Louisiana is radically higher than anywhere else in the US. Josh's theory is that forced labor created a culture in which one doesn't go to the police. This is because the police aren't very interested in solving problems; rather they are interested in keeping the forced labor situation in place.

In the USA and Caribbean, the forced labor system was slavery, followed in the US by Jim Crow. In South America, the system was encomienda, which was basically serf-driven feudalism. Either way, the police weren't there to help people, they were there to keep them in their place.

Presented as food for thought.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
We live in a fact-free world. What I mean by that is people feel free to ignore inconvenient facts and/or free to substitute what they want to be true for what is.

For example, 2014 was the warmest year on record. 2015 is on track to be warmer than 2015, AKA, the new warmest year on record. Yet, in our fact-free world, people can tell me with a straight face that global warming has "paused." I do not think that word "pause" means what they think it means.

Yesterday, two mopes shot up a holiday party of government employees at a developmental center. If said mopes had been white Christians, we would be told that they are "individual nuts" and nothing can be done. Since they're not, we're being told "ISIS is coming to eat you alive!" and, even though the man was born in the USA, we need to prevent Syrian refugees from entering the country.

The fact that the USA has a murder rate five times that of most industrialized countries is ignored, as is the fact that social misfits will gravitate towards any of a number of radical movements. This later fact is true whether we're talking Europeans in Europe or Americans in America. (Even crazy people have a reason for why they do what they do.)

I could go on, but I'll leave with this thought - facts are like gravity. Gravity doesn't care if you believe in it or not.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
Thought 1 - It's The Violence

Per Wikipedia, the murder rate in Great Britain is 1 per 100,000 people. Per the CDC, the US murder rate is 5.1 per 100,000 people. From the CDC data, the non-gun murder rate is 1.6 per 100,000. In short, if you waved your magic wand and all the guns in the USA evaporated, and none of the people who would have been killed by guns were harmed, the USA would still have an abnormally high murder rate.

Thought 2 - Income Disparity

Go back to that Wikipedia link and sort it by murder rate. You'll see that we're in the same league as Mauritania, Kenya, Albania or Latvia. Mexico has a murder rate 4 times ours. What do all these spots have in common? Huge income disparities and less-than-trustworthy police. I'll just leave that for your consideration.

Thought 3 - Mass Shootings as Terrorism

This article has an interesting point, to wit: You don’t just show up with a 140-page manifesto and a large stockpile of weapons one day. You work at it for a long time. And you plan not only the violence, but the presentation for the audience, the performance — what they will see from you, what they will hear from you, the reasons why, the message. It’s all very conscious and deliberate.

Thought 4 - "Problem Shooters"

A final interesting thought - there are problem shooters - people who probably shouldn't be given a gun. Yet we have no real mechanism to deny them a weapon. I'll submit that, under one interpretation of what the Founding Fathers wanted, anybody too nutty to be in the militia wouldn't have a gun. Again, I'll just leave that for your consideration.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
My Rotary club is having a picnic instead of a meeting today, [insert missing logic here] so have some links.

A) Found via View From the Porch, cogent thoughts on the spate of TV survival shows. Money quote: In the end, regardless of what you think you might have learned via osmosis from TV, if you haven’t actually built a shelter from scratch, gathered wild food, butchered a critter, and drunk water you sanitized yourself, you haven’t yet graduated survival kindergarten.

B) Pretty pictures! 10 Beautiful Places That Actually Exist.

C) The world's oceans can be an unlawful place: murder caught on video but not prosecuted.

D) Presented without endorsement: states with tough gun laws have fewer gun murders. My state, Illinois, is (despite Chicago) below the national average.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
Monday Update

Over the weekend I went downstate to visit the parents. Mom's PC needed a bit of attention from me and it was going to be Too Damned Hot to do anything in Chicago except sit in front of the air conditioning. So, since my parents and my car have air conditioning, a quick drive downstate seemed like a good idea.

Saturday night, thanks to the parents' DirectTV, we watched Kingsman. It was okay, in a very cartoonish way. I'm also about halfway through reading Sheri S. Tepper's Six Moon Dance on my Kindle. Tepper can be a fairly inconsistent writer but this one so far is pretty good.

Truth

Ed, the head cook and bottlewasher at Gin and Tacos, notes that modern conservatives are intellectually inconsistent. For example, a non-citizen named Francisco Sanchez shot a woman, and conservatives are blaming Obama and San Francisco's immigration policy. Yet when citizens shoot a Congresswoman or a theater full of Batman fans, we were told the sole and only blame was to be found in the gunman's head. Or even worse, when somebody got shot by police, the cop who pulled the trigger was not even a little at fault.

If consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, conservative minds are too big to fit through a doorway. And if you believe that, I have a bridge for sale in Brooklyn. (Serious inquiries only, please.)
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
One of the things about writing science fiction is that it's really very difficult to not write about politics. Politics, simply put, defines what much of we do and how we do it. In nations with authoritarian regimes, avoiding interaction with the police is highly desirable, difficult and something everybody does. In nations with weak court systems, avoiding being cheated in business dealings is difficult. So for my books set on Mars I needed to think about what political system I would apply and how it would work. Since I write action novels with pirates and crooks, I had to decide on gun policy for civilians.

A total ban on guns won't work in an industrial society, even one without 3-D printers. The same tools used to make toasters can be used to make a gun. So how does one decide who gets a gun? At the same time, I decided that Mars' early history consisted of a pair of invasions bookending a series of off-planet wars. I also looked at what I thought the American Founding Fathers had meant when they talked about a "well-regulated militia."

I decided the default policy on Mars is that to own a gun one needs to be a member of the state militia. Said member doesn't have to be a "drilling" member, so they don't have a uniform or a unit, but the do have some affiliation with the local militia. I also decided that the militia is not the US National Guard, which is defacto a Federal reserve army with some State gloss, but that the Martian Militia is fully under the control (and budget) of the states.

Since I'm not a fan of open carry, that's generally prohibited, unless going to or from a militia event, and I'm leaning towards concealed carry being a separate level within the militia. In short, the Martian Militia has teeth.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
This week has been consumed by locusts meetings. Have a few links and a thought:

Links

1) Never underestimate the power of one man - man spends 20 years cutting road through mountain.

2) I'm not in favor of gun control, but Australia's rules seem to work. Related to this, Chris Hernandez both corrects the record as to what Obama said and points out that Obama was right - America has more mass shootings than any other industrialized country.

Thought - Women and Fights (or War, or Gunfights)

Whenever the subject of women and combat or fights come up, the argument is made that "women are smaller and so will lose the fight" or words to that effect. Well, in reality, there are multiple factors that determine who wins a fight, be it hand-to-hand, war or a gunfight. Namely:

A) Skill & Training - In hand-to-hand, this actually cuts both ways, in that sometimes martial artists get beat by bar-brawlers because the later are unpredictable and don't follow rules. Skill with a gun or a well-trained army can be a great equalizer.

B) Determination - motivated people (individual or group) fight harder and longer, and accept more damage / casualties.

C) Size - yes, size does matter. In combat, if your enemy can trade you 5 to 1 and still have troops, then you're in for a long fight. The best marksman can only do so much with a .22 short. And yes, in hand-to-hand, the bigger guy has an advantage.

In short, who wins a fight depends on a lot of factors.

May Day

May. 1st, 2015 09:27 am
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
On this 1st of May, have some links and commentary:

1) A lengthy article on the start of Gamergate. The ex-boyfriend sounds like a full-on sociopath.

2) In certain gun-owning circles, it is an article of faith that the Sandy Hook shootings didn't happen. Tim McGraw begs to differ, which shows how impossible these "conspiracies" are.

3) One of the things which fascinated me about the book Ender's Game is how the author set up his reality such that Ender, a true sociopath, is the hero. This fellow thinks it's related to Mormon theology. Presented without comment.

4) This article about Sad Puppies has been all over the Internet. I link to it because it provides a useful definition of fascism. To wit, one needs all of:
- A charismatic leader
- A call to a (usually authoritarian) past Golden Age (frequently mythical)
- A stabbed-in-the-back narrative, which explains why the present is fubar
- A secret cabal of backstabbers, the existence of which means extra-legal or at least extra-ordinary actions are required
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
Have a few links:

A) The US missile defense system doesn't work and costs a lot of money. In other news, water is wet.

B) From Tim Akers: the tyranny of choice or why your favorite author has a day job.

C) From Cracked.com: 6 things gun lovers and haters can agree on.

D) On being "brave" on the Internet: this is not Nazi-occupied France, folks.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
It's Friday, so let's ease on out the week with some links and pictures.

A) Here's an audio recording of one of my Capricon panels.

B) Helpful advice on how to survive a disaster. Basically, people freeze and don't react. The recommendation - think about what you'd do in an emergency.

C) A demonstration of the problems of banning guns - people will just make them at home.

D) A twitter rant about female characters. Tl;dr - Nothing needs changing about her. THE PLOT needs changing so that her coolness and strongness have an actual effect on things.

E) 9 American habits I lost when I moved to Germany - including fear of public nudity.

F) Finally, in the "one picture is worth a thousand words department:"

nuts
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
So I've expressed before my dislike of the "sheep, wolves and sheepdog" meme. Late yesterday comes news of a white dude who tackles a black dude because the black dude is carrying a gun. Black dude, it turns out, has a legal concealed carry permit.

Needless to say I Am Not Amused. I don't want to focus on the racial aspect (although clearly it was a factor) but rather the sheepdog aspect. Sheepdogs herd, whether or not whatever they're herding needs to be herded. That can be problematic, as in this case, where the appropriate response would have been to just call the cops.

Thus endeth the lesson.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
Since I find myself in front of a PC, although I'm at home and not at work, have some content.

A) Apparently, Here Gather The Stars AKA Way Station is a good book. I've ordered the most recent edition available, a book printed in 1980. That's 35 years ago - the year I was in 7th grade. It may be great, but it hasn't kept up its popularity.

B) On Saturday, I attended my local library's Local Authors Fair. Their definition of local was "Chicago area" so I was sitting next to a writer from LaGrange and just down the row from one on the north lake. I sold a few books and bought two: Patricia Skalka's Death Stalks Door County and Libby Fischer Hellman's Nobody's Child.

C) Flagged for further discussion: Z. K. Rosson's is there a better way to fight terrorism. I also bought his novel.

D: Because I'm feeling a bit ornery today, have this from Tyler Oakley:

White people: The Second Amendment gives us the right to carry assault rifles in Wal Mart.

White people: Because we need our guns to overthrow the government, as is our Constitutionally guaranteed right.

White people: When the tyrannical government is coming for our rights, what else are we supposed to do but make it clear to them that they can take our rights from our cold dead hands?

Black people: Cool. In that case, we're going to protest against the systemic racism that continues to infect this country.

White people: What? No, you should just obey the police.

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