Saturday, December 21, 2019

Diving into the sun...and ever outward. Expanding our horizons


Taking a pause from Earthly troubles... today we'll look right into the sun! Real-life missions and the big news that we're re-issuing SUNDIVER!  After a several year hiatus, my first novel - a murder mystery with cosmic implications, plunging into the furnace of a star - is available, revised and with a new introduction. See below!

Meanwhile, in other space news... Jason Derleth, head of NASA's Innovative and Advanced Concepts program (NIAC), is interviewed by Fraser Cain on Universe Today. Jason has done a terrific job developing NIAC into NASA's Venture or DARPA center, nurturing early stage concepts, some just this side of sci fi and others that took off skyward. I'm privileged to serve on the advisory External Council. 
     Watch the podcast and consider - do you know anyone who might want to apply for a NIAC grant? We're especially interested in space-related, bold projects in biology!

== Lunar obsessions ==

Many of you know I'm cool to the latest mania for returning U.S. astronauts to the moon's dusty, almost-use less plain. Oh, I am fine with someone keeping that  obsession going. Humanity will go there anyway, as the Chinese, Indians, Russians, billionaires and so on desperate desperately  pursue rites of adulthood we had 50 years ago... their "bar moonzvahs."  I'm also fine with American companies building advanced landers and such to sell! (NASA has put out a call for two different lunar landers, from two different sources.) 

Oh, I'll keep an open mind. Indeed, NIAC is funding concepts in getting that lunar polar water. Even though initial calculations suggest that we can get everything of value - including water - far more efficiently and copiously from asteroids. As Andy Weir makes clear, in his novel Artemis, the Moon is largely of use for tourism.

The absurd “race” to plant US footprints back on the moon’s dusty/useless plain does have positive aspects. I fully support U.S. unmanned exploration missions like VIPER… a lander rover that will do surveys and assays of lunar ice in deep, dark places near the lunar poles.

Still, let me say something nice: I well recall...  Reflecting on the second moon landing -- I remember Apollo 12 so vividly. Earlier, Armstrong & Aldrin almost died, flying almost blind and almost out of fuel. A few months later, the 12 crew glided in so smoothly and easily that they landed within meters of the planned site... less than 80 meters from the Surveyor probe... while joking all the way. The image of both Apollo and Surveyor in the same photo remains one of my top ten exemplars of human competence

With less computer power than we now have in some light bulbs. A nerdy, even impudent competence that only ever appeared in democracies, like Periclean Athens and Florence. And a major reason why enemies of our renaissance are waging all-out war on the fact-using professions. And why no despotism will ever make it to the stars.

== More space news! ==

NASA flew gas detecting aircraft across 10,000 square miles of California from 2016 through2018. Landfills accounted for 41% of the methane emissions it identified, manure management 26% and oil and gas operations 26%. If we were a species worthy of the stars... Seriously, is this what aliens are waiting for, before making contact? A sign we can stop fouling our own nest?

Meanwhile, NASA's first large-scale, piloted x-plane (or experimental aircraft) in more than three decades, the experimental X-59 jet, which could make supersonic commercial travel a reality, has been cleared for final assembly.

Studies of Jupiter’s gravity suggest a density distribution that’s a bit too diffuse to have occurred if the early, rocky core was left undisturbed to collect all the later gases in its giant envelope. One possible explanation, a fairly early collision with a super Earth-sized planet that stirred and mixed the core just right. We get to peer into epochs that we always thought invisible forever. Ah, to do with human hearts.

Okay. Even a space posting can't escape politics completely. “Why the economies of Alabama and Mississippi have suddenly gone in opposite directions.” Well, one reason is the boom around tech enclaves like Mobile and especially Huntsville, where a big NASA center has drawn in talent from all over the nation, substantially altering cultural assumptions. 

== And that Solar News ==

Okay, I promised to get all sunny on you, starting with news that the solar sunspot cycle in at a weirdly deep minimum... but then...

...solar tsunami waves blare the harbingers of a transition from one sun cycle to the next.

Interesting results from the Parker Solar Probe as the spacecraft is starting its fourth close orbit around the Sun, edging closer to its scorching target.

Which brings us to...

... we've just re-released the novel that inspired it all… SUNDIVER! Now available as an ebook on Kindle and in paperback -- 

-- with a brand new author's introduction about the personal and scientific journeys leading to my first novel!

You'll come away from this suspenseful, fulfilling and often funny space mystery both entertained and... well... having learned a thing or two. What a deal.




186 comments:

Charles Cameron (hipbone) said...

Since you're talking "lunar obsessions" I'd like to ask you why scientists and science fiction writers, billionaires, and nation states, all of which tend to be of the materialist persuasion, should decide that the moon is ripe for plunder (tourism included!) without giving equal voice to poets and indigenous peoples, who may tend more to the "spiritual" side (whatever that may mean), and feel that the moon is precious for its (her) beauty, and in some cases would even accord her divine status

My own poem, Don't you mess with my mother the moon, gives one expression to this side of things. With a far grander scope, Robert Graves' book, The White Goddess, provides another.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Robert Heinlein, some 75 years ago, considered that in "The Man Who Sold the Moon" He entrepreneur/protagonist raised funds for a manned moon shot by threatening to sell rights to the Earth-facing side of the moon to a major soft drink company ('6+' in his novella) to create the ultimate billboard. He mentioned the idea to the CEO of a rival soft drink company, one whose name was too long to be legible on the lunar surface, a fairly subtle extortion.
At this time, dispoilation of the moon isn't very high on most people's list, but the point Heinlein makes is eventually someone might cross that line.

Larry Hart said...

A review of the original Star Wars in the context of the later films. It also mentions Asimov more than once:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/20/opinion/star-wars-movie.html

...

We literally can’t see “Star Wars” anymore: Its control-freakish creator won’t allow the original version of the film to be seen and has stubbornly maculated his own masterpiece, second-guessing correct editing decisions, restoring wisely deleted scenes and replacing his breakthrough special effects — historic artifacts in their own right — with ’90s vintage C.G.I., already more dated than the film’s original effects.

There may come a day, a long time from now, after Disney’s vampirically extended copyrights have expired and all the accumulated cultural detritus has eroded away, when people will have forgotten “Star Wars,” and can finally see it again. Seen anew, much of its imagery is surreally beautiful: the vast plated underside of an armored starship sliding on and on forever overhead; the dreamlike tableau, seen through a scrim of smoke and framed by concentric portals, of a girl shrouded in white furtively genuflecting to a robot; a golden android waving for help in a desert by the skeleton of a dinosaur; a convoy of space fighters opening their split wings in sequence, like poison flowers

Larry Hart said...


...
blossoming.

Perhaps its most iconic image epitomizes its genius for making the corniest clichés strange and new: a bored kid stuck in a nowhere town looking to the horizon, yearning for better things, no different from Dorothy in dusty Kansas or the teenagers in Modesto, watching the setting of a double star.

David Brin said...

CC Hipbone. Thanks and interesting point that reflects your sense of “otherness.” See my book of the same name. While I approve of the tendency, wholeheartedly, you might ponder that - ironically - that tendency to consider the feelings of other peoples and traditions is - itself - an artifact largely of the western civilization you were brought up in.

With the exception of Buddhism, can you name for me another culture that taught its children - as you were taught by most Hollywood films - to eagerly think of the way other cultures might disagree?



Zepp, that’s my problem with the very last scene of HANCOCK!


And let’s leave off on the spoilers for at least a month, eh? Raymond Feist shouted "I couldn't believe Vader's Luke's Father!" across a crowded party just six days after Empire came out. Character speaks volumes.

scidata said...

Re: feelings of others

All good, but blocking exploration (and even resource exploitation) denies future people the chance at beholding even more beauty. Would we ever have seen the Pillars of Creation in M16 if Apollo and ensuing tech never happened? I'm not sure we can walk such a razor's edge of purity.

Zepp Jamieson said...

I'd forgotten that ending in Hancock! Probably a Heinlein reader involved with the script on that one. It's a popular motif, this abuse of power. You have two types of such stories: the ones where the author is giving a warning (The Boys, Watchmen, GoT (Yes, Daenyris was always going to be the sort to commit mass slaughter), and ones where the author is uncritical of the horrors of such misuse of power (Rand's novels, Star Wars, and possibly Hancock). Particularly relevant now, when a major abuser of power has a large and uncritical fan base.
Oh, and Bruce Willis' character was dead all along. The boat sinks, and Jimmy Stewart doesn't drown, just his brother.

David Brin said...

One saving grace of those old right wing paranoids - they at least knew that Russian despots had it in for us, and always will. Czarist, Leninist, Putinist-mafia - it's the same thing under slightly different labels. And this satire song really hits home! For all their hellish faults, at least Joe McCarthy and that lot weren't Kremlin-sucking traitors.

The Okrahna became the NKVD, then the KGB, then the FSB without even changing any staff! The same connivers, tactics and goals, only now wearing Orthodox crosses. If a democrat in 1955 did 0.0001% of what Trump does for Moscow every single day, he'd have been behind bars in a shot. I'm not sure I'd go as far as this song...

... but our red/confed neighbors are wearing the right color, that's for sure. And we need to call them the commies that they are.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NVQ2aeVmXE&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR0yJEz3PNLW40Uy_RHEIj-nl5su-uaadSWxDSnmqKCO-lqNYnVp1MZlFB0

duncan cairncross said...

Hi
On the space front I believe we should be thinking about one of earth's "other moons"
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3753_Cruithne

Cruithne - 100 billion tons of material - and
No "hole" to climb in and out of
24/7 Sun for the solar panels
We can use LARGE mirrors
No gravity - so our habitat will be close to Cruithne to use the materials but will be a spinning system

On the political front
I like David Mullen's questions (Tony Benn's)

Who are you?
Who appointed you?
What powers do you have?
In whose interest do you exercise them?
and
How do I get rid of you?

The UK today (Cynically)

Who are you? -- BoJo

Who appointed you? -- 200,000 members of the conservative party

What powers do you have? -- Anything I can get through Parliament

In whose interest do you exercise them? -- My own interests and those of my croneys

How do I get rid of you? -- Wait for the next election -- and even then my propaganda will be out shouting yours


OK that is a very cynical look -
The major difference that I can see is the "Churn" - with the UK (or the USA) there is a limited period of power

The Chinese System - the way it is INTENDED to work

Who are you? ---------- Li Keqiang and Xi Jinping

Who appointed you? --- The Communist Party - 90 million members - and the 2900 elected MP's

What powers do you have? -- Anything I can get through the politburo

In whose interest do you exercise them? --- The people of China

How do I get rid of you? --- By voting for different "MPs" ????

The last question is the KEY - How do I get rid of you

I believe that the Chinese look back on the last hundred odd years completely differently to the Brits
We have had stability for 300 years
They had civil war and invasion after civil war and invasion

Stability is crucial to them - somebody like Trump or BoJo would simply not survive
The political base would get rid of them so fast their heads would spin

They HAVE to keep the people happy

So the "How do I get rid of you?" is actually simple - if a significant number of the Chinese people don't like you - then you are gone

Saying that they have now had a few decades of peace and growing prosperity - maybe the Chinese people are not sleeping dragons any more

Looking into the future the Chinese system can operate with Billions of citizens

The Parliamentarian system ?????
The US "System" ????

What would an ideal system look like?

duncan cairncross said...

The Okrahna became the NKVD, then the KGB, then the FSB without even changing any staff! The same connivers, tactics and goals, only now wearing Orthodox crosses

They started as the Okrahna when wearing the crosses

They probably just had to go to the back of their filing cabinets the find the ones their grandfathers wore

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

And let’s leave off on the spoilers for at least a month, eh?


Was that directed at me? The article I posted was a lament on how hard it is now to appreciate the original Star Wars. I don't think it mentioned the plot of the new one at all.

David Brin said...

Someone posted a comment with the bold word SPOLIERS! Normally that's adequate and it was! I skimmed past. Still, I think we oughta wait for folks to have a chance to catch up and that person appears to have taken it down. Come back next year! Well. In February ;-)

Ilithi Dragon said...

Hey, guys!

I know this post is more sciencey-related, but I'm on holiday leave and wanted to share a couple things, and take the time to talk about some (I think very important) politics stuff that I am able to talk about.

First off, I want to share this:
https://percolately.com/masha/man-who-looks-like-trump-supporter-twitter/

This guy does a pretty damn good job of summing up what it's like in conservative states. I grew up in rural PA, and while PA is pretty purple these days, it's because the rural areas are staunchly red and the urban areas are solidly blue (our host commented on this phenomenon at length). Rural PA isn't as severe in some aspects as the conservative southern states, and the rampant indoctrination isn't as present, but the core conservative-rural culture is still pretty strong there.

The large point that this guy is making, though, is of the need to win over moderate voters, and those members of the rural-conservative population who themselves are on the fence, starting to wake up, or who might vote blue if not for the social pressures.

We need them. We need the moderate voters who, while they won't necessarily vote for Trump, might not vote Blue if they find the candidate too distasteful.

We need the conservative voters who have or are waking up to all the problems that Trump is, but who will won't vote Blue if they find the candidate too distasteful, or who will vote Red if they find the candidate PARTICULARLY distasteful.

Like the Twitter thread I linked implores, and like our host has called for many times with his Polemical Judo, we need to be tactical and strategic in our choices of candidates.

And not just candidates.

We must also be tactical and strategic in the issues and battles we fight over.

Case and point: Gun control, and Virginia.

I know many on the left hate to hear it, because they hear it so often (and often times disingenuously from the right), but now is not the time to argue or push gun control.

It is a hot-button issue that will instantly shut down any potential conservative conversion. And not just shut down conversion, but fire them up against you, and provide ammunition to the GOP PR types to completely blank you out and fire up the base against anything you might say to them.


ESPECIALLY when democrats pull such an insanely, balls-on-backwards stupid and idiotic stunt as Virginia House Bill 4021.

Not only is the bill GODDAMN STUPID, with NO grandfather clause, 100% making it a gun confiscation bill (though they also give you the option of just getting it out of the state), the timing is GODDAMN STUPID.

Just when we need the national attention focused on the impeachment, and the dirt being dug up (and all the people who will be implicated), what do Virginia Democrats do? They torpedo the whole goddamn thing by giving the GOP EXACTLY the kind of "THE DEMOCRATS ARE COMING TO TAKE YOUR GUNS" scandal they've been paranoid screaming about for DECADES.

Do you want to hand the GOP the election? Because that is how you hand the GOP the election! ESPECIALLY when almost all the DEM candidates came out hard on gun control and supporting gun bans in the debates.

If you push really hard for gun control right now, it will cost you the election, and you won't accomplish a damn thing for it.

And if you continue to push for legislation that focuses on stupid aspects of firearms that have little presence in crimes, or don't significantly impact the lethality of the firearm (silencers, muzzle brakes, pistol grips, etc.), but that make the firearm LOOK scary and "tacticool," ESPECIALLY legislation that functions as a de facto confiscation law, you will straight up LOSE a lot of moderate voters, and even Democrat voters.


You will also lose me.

Ilithi Dragon said...

(continued)

I am socially progressive, fiscally pragmatic (I'm too pro fair-market regulations and government investment to be considered "conservative", and ultimately go for whatever fucking works best), I'm registered independent (because I despite the political party system for exactly the kind of party-before-country BS we're seeing right now), and I've voted Democrat in every election I've participated in.

I also own ten firearms (with every intention to purchase more when "buy more guns" rotates back through my list of spending priorities).

I sleep with a loaded handgun under my pillow, and a loaded shotgun next to my bed.

I don't leave my house without a handgun on my hip unless I'm specifically going somewhere where firearms are prohibited, at least when I'm in a State that allows it (I'm not right now; Hawaii is a may-issue state that is never-issue in practice).

I do these things not because I think it terribly likely that I will need to use them to defend myself or others. It's not. Most likely (and hopefully), I will go my entire life without ever having to fire a weapon in anger.

However, beyond the purposes of sport (and one of the primary reasons I have my firearms is because I enjoy the sport of target shooting), I possess and carry my firearms because I would much rather have them and not need them, than need them and not have them.

Carrying them gives me the OPTION for active defense (of myself or others) should such a situation arise.

Our current political situation is a crisis, one that I think needs to be corrected. It pains me the lengths that must be gone to, and the consequences that must be suffered, to correct the crises. It infuriates me that it has been allowed and propagated.

But if the Dems make outright bans and confiscation a primary platform item, and then act on it, I won't vote for them.

They're sacrificing my liberty, and the liberty of countless others, all of whom have done nothing wrong, trying to take away things we enjoy, to try and target all of the wrong things in the issue, things that will not work and will not solve problems.

All while pushing policies THAT WILL NOT SUCCEED. How well do you think that "assault weapon" ban will work in Virginia? Virginia doesn't require registration, so they'll depend on people to voluntarily turn them in.

They won't. They'll "transfer them to another state" or "lose them in a boating accident" or just not even say they have any.

Or, you know, every goddamn county in the state will declare themselves a "firearms sanctuary" and outright ignore the law, like most of the counties and independent cities in Virginia have already done.

Case and point. Pushing gun control right now is a political shotgun to the foot, and pushes wrong solutions that won't even be enforceable.

It will also alienate and drive away moderate voters and ANY conservative voter who might be thinking about switching sides, AND also split the Democratic party, driving democratic gun owners out of the fold.

This is a time when we need a big tent, all-inclusive, bring-everyone-into-the-fold position. An "all ideas are welcome here, let's talk about them like adults, and not do anything rash" approach. Calm. Civil. Understanding. Willing to listen to and hear each other out.

Because if you don't do that, if you don't be the patient and understanding adults in the room, hard as it is to maintain, you will lose the election. Our political crisis will continue. Our country will be further damaged, and it will take that much more work and effort to repair it and our position in the world when it ends.

duncan cairncross said...

Ilithi Dragon

You may well be a "good guy with a gun" but history - even US history - shows us that 99% of the time the "Armed Citizens" are on the side of the oppressors and tyrants

Saying that you are probably correct about the timing

Jacob said...

I support hunting, pest control, sporting, collecting, self defense, and community defense. I don't agree with the idea that someone is at liberty to exercise lethal force on others.

scidata said...

"We become what we behold. We shape our tools and then our tools shape us."
- Marshall McLuhan

TCB said...

Jason Derleth, any relation to August Derleth? 'Cause that would make sense, sort of.

Larry Hart said...

Ilithi Dragon:

I sleep with a loaded handgun under my pillow, and a loaded shotgun next to my bed.


I tend to agree with you about strategically picking battles as to not alienate voters we need. Though I also understand the feelings of those who think that we can't afford to wait for society to catch up on issues like gun violence (or climate change).

That said, I will point out that the Virginia bill 4021 you allude to, unless I'm missing something, wouldn't affect either of the firearms you mention above.

Larry Hart said...

If Trump wins reelection, it will be because it is impossible for the Democrats to please both Ilithi Dragon and matthew. One will stay home or vote against if we nominate someone who is too progressive, and one will stay home or vote third party if we nominate someone who is not progresisve enough. Essentially, two (more probably) factions are insisting that to deserve their vote, we must alienate the rest of the broad coalition.

This is the People's Front of Judea fighting the Judean People's Front while the Romans clean up the mess afterwards.

Zepp Jamieson said...

I am curious, Dragon: how do you feel about school shootings? Do you believe that people have a right to weapons of mass destruction? Did the 2,500+ people who died from guns in Chicago alone this year deserve to die?

Burt said...

David,
Apparently the dust on the lunar surface is very fine and abrasive. It will certainly degrade equipment sent to the Moon and be a major problem for exploration and settlement.

 Ashley said...

Zepp Jamieson said... "I am curious, Dragon: how do you feel about school shootings?"

As I know no fear [;-)], and British to boot, I'm going to take a stab at answering this.

How do I feel about school shootings. Appalled.

Zepp Jamieson, "Do you believe that people have a right to weapons of mass destruction?"

Do I believe have the right to own weapons of mass destruction? Rifles are not weapons of mass destruction, but I'm going to assume you mean the right to bear arms?

That's a complex question, because the American Constitution is a reaction that arose from rebelling against a distant ruler, which given how large CONUS is, one can see why someone in Alabama would get riled at the Washington Liberal elite and equate them "those damned people ruling us."

However, that aside, because it dodges the question, the answer is that guns are a symptom of a deeper psycho-social problem with American society that can't be addressed sensibly, because the answers would rile people to accuse lawmakers of making the country communist (or some such red herring).

According to some there's no such things as society, but yet here we are social creatures that require interactions with other human beings. The disparity between the rich and the poor has caused a rift in the structures underpinning society e.g. equality of opportunity has been undermined, which has disenfranchised the average citizen.

Caveat, I may be wrong, as I have no skin in the game.


Zepp Jamieson, "Did the 2,500+ people who died from guns in Chicago alone this year deserve to die?"

No, of course not, but no one deserves to die. That said, we all die in the end, but I suggest your question doesn't come from a place of debate, but rather a need to play the moral high card.

Of course, I may be reading your position wrong. Again, British and no skin in the game.

Larry Hart said...

Ashley:

Zepp Jamieson, "Do you believe that people have a right to weapons of mass destruction?"

Do I believe have the right to own weapons of mass destruction? Rifles are not weapons of mass destruction, but I'm going to assume you mean the right to bear arms?


I think he was making a point I often bring up--that the Second Amendment (to the US Constitution) makes no special carve out for "guns" or "firearms". It talks about the right to bear arms. And therefore, there is no textual basis for the current interpretation that asserts any restriction on any kind of firearm whatsoever to be off limits, but makes no such claim about knives, swords, hand-held surface-to-air missiles, or tactical thermonuclear devices.

The right to bear arms is either absolute or it isn't. It is not absolute for guns but not for any other armaments. There is no way to logically read that into 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.

Larry Hart said...

Ashley again:

Zepp Jamieson, "Did the 2,500+ people who died from guns in Chicago alone this year deserve to die?"

No, of course not, but no one deserves to die. That said, we all die in the end, but I suggest your question doesn't come from a place of debate, but rather a need to play the moral high card.


Put a little less provocatively: Do we as a society really consider 2500+ gun deaths in a single city in one year to be an acceptable price to pay for the unfettered right to bear firearms? Maybe it is, but I believe it is the pertinent question to consider. At what point does the vulnerability of citizens to spontaneous gun violence become a problem to be fixed rather than a condition to be accepted?

Larry Hart said...

That's the real question, isn't it? One side sees a staggering number of gun deaths and feels "Something needs to be done to fix this!" Another side sees the same gun deaths as tragic, but a part of the landscape, akin to the number of traffic-related fatalities. Each such individual death is unfortunate, but collectively, they're a fact of life like tornadoes or earthquakes.

I lean toward the first of those sides, but I'm not an absolutist on the issue. My point here is not to fight over gun rights, but to try to ask the correct questions.

Most Second Amendment enthusiasts when talking about guns used on humans (not sport shooting or hunting) talk about either defense against violent crime or defense against a tyrannical government. No one actively advocates for the right to bear arms to rob people, or to shoot them in a fit of pique, or to shoot up a school/post office/place of employment. For advocates of gun control, the reverse is true. The point of gun control is to prevent those last things, not to leave people vulnerable to criminals. Whether or not guns are an appropriate response to government agents is a whole separate question I'd like to avoid at the moment. Point being, is there some way to compromise that would make gun supporters and potential victims of gun crime both feel more secure than they do now?

Zepp Jamieson said...

Ashley: Thanks for the response.
I consider an instrument that can kill thirty people in less than a minute to be a weapon of mass destruction. As you note, The second amendment doesn't say 'guns'; it says 'arms' and I've asked second amendment absolutists if "unfettered" (their term, not the Constitution's) if that included nuclear weapons, poison gas, biowarfare and the like, and I've actually had some affirm that yes, that is what the Constitution meant. That's...disturbing. My issue isn't with people who have a 30.06 or a shotgun or a 9mm; it's with people who want AR-15s and mortars and other extreme gear useless for hunting and ludicrous for self-defence, and the reasons such people are attracted to these weapons. (The 2nd doesn't exist so people can fight government; it exists for militias to serve government when needed--for example, rounding up escaped slaves).
Part of the problem is the American culture. There are times when I think the leading philosophical figure in American history was Yosemite Sam. So many guns are part of the problem, but only part. American attitudes toward gun play is the other part.
For example: people are surprised if I note that a higher percentage of Canadians own guns than Americans. But the guns are regulated, and licensing and training is required, so gun ownership comes with a sense of responsibility.
Finally: no right is 'absolute'. Not freedom of speech, not gun ownership, not private property. They are essential, and must be safeguarded, but they are not absolute. I can't drum up braying lynch mobs, I can't shoot the neighbours for having the telly too loud at 9pm, and I can't purchase the water supply of a major city and then start charging monopolistic prices. The trick (and the reason we have courts) is to determine where those lines in rights are.

locumranch said...


Do you think it indicates senility, ignorance or mere perversity, this progressive desire to disparage the criminal Russian Oligarchy as "commies", while simultaneously misidentifying actual "commie" US Democrat Party members as "defenders of democracy"?

This begs other questions:

Does Ilithi_D, by virtue of being a proud member of the US Military Industrial Complex, qualify as a 'Baby Killer' in accordance with outdated 1970-era slang, irregardless of his stance on abortion?

And, why do gun control advocates like Zepp think that "the 2,500+ people who died from guns in Chicago alone this year" supports restrictive gun control policies, even though these deaths occurred in Chicago under the most restrictive US gun control laws ever imposed?


All of these questions (and many more) must remain irresolvable & unanswerable, mostly because modern relativistic English no longer has any meaning whatsoever, insomuch that 'diversity is now said to equal unity' and 'victimology is now said to equal strength'.


Best
____

Save your breath, Ilithi_D, as these morons neither understand guns nor violence, believing that human imperfections can be legislated away by some sort of imaginary Maginot Line. They apply this same illogic in their attempt to eliminate 'hate speech' by the elimination of free speech. Everything, including soft drink size, must be restricted in their pursuit of human perfectability.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Oh: On Chicago. Over 2500 really did die from gun violence there this year, with a bit over a week remaining (murder rates usually go up for the holidays). It isn't "taking the moral high ground" or virtue signalling to cite it; it's part of an ongoing and very real and immediate national problem. The large majority of victims were under age 30; about 10% of them were minors. As for "we all die in the end" it's a truth that does not illuminate. We had a tragic case near where I live this past week; a young couple had their young daughter die unexpectedly, and they managed to persuade their local Bethel church to have prayer meeting imploring for the child's resurrection from the dead. That went on for a week, and only yesterday the grieving parents announced the resurrection funding would go to a memorial service instead. (I understand the parent's role in this perfectly; I just don't know what their church thought the hell they were doing encouraging this). Would it have helped matters in any way to have told the parents, "we all die in the end"?

Zepp Jamieson said...

locoraunch: "misidentifying actual "commie" US Democrat Party members as "defenders of democracy"? "

At least you used quotes. Still a profoundly ignorance classification of social democrats.

Tell me what "restrictive gun control policies" I actually support. I'm curious to see what you come up with on that, since I haven't ever spelled out such policies here.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Ashley: I mistakenly attributed Larry's "The right to bear arms is either absolute or it isn't." remark to you. Apologies, and I don't expect you to debate Larry's statements for him. He'll manage that quite well, I would think.

 Ashley said...

Larry Hart said... "The right to bear arms is either absolute or it isn't. It is not absolute for guns but not for any other armaments. There is no way to logically read that into the Second Amendment."

I don't know, but I do know that since 1934 that there have been limitations on what can be owned e.g. Browning M2HB. So I guess that the answer is it's not absolute, but I would refer you to Larry Corriea who knows this stuff far better than I.

Larry Hart said... "Put a little less provocatively: Do we as a society really consider 2500+ gun deaths in a single city in one year to be an acceptable price to pay for the unfettered right to bear firearms"

I would say no, but I'm British and therefore not an American citizen and have no right to give an answer on something that's outside of my control.

Zepp Jamieson said..."My issue isn't with people who have a 30.06 or a shotgun or a 9mm; it's with people who want AR-15s and mortars and other extreme gear useless for hunting and ludicrous for self-defence, and the reasons such people are attracted to these weapons. (The 2nd doesn't exist so people can fight government; it exists for militias to serve government when needed--for example, rounding up escaped slaves)."

OK, I have to split my answer needs to be split into two parts.

AR-15s are not extreme gear, they shoot 5.56mm/223 round, which will do far less wound channel damage than the far larger 30.06. Furthermore, shotguns can shoot sabot rounds that will literally dismember a person who they hit.

I point this out not to be pedantic, but to frame my response within the range that mmost shootings take place i.e. up close, under 50 meters. As such a 9mm or .45 cal will kill as effectively as the scary "Ar-15."

I think Penn Jillette explains the ramifications of the second amendment clearly; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9MdUvAuRifk

However, I wouldn't disagree that the constitution can't be amended. But, my guess is that any attempt to do so will result in a second American civil war, and if you think the casualties from shooting sprees is bad, well... Al I can say is you haven't seen nothing compared to what would happen if war broke out in America.

So I hope that clarifies my position. I will post my original answer again, and suggest you ask me about that?

"That's a complex question, because the American Constitution is a reaction that arose from rebelling against a distant ruler, which given how large CONUS is, one can see why someone in Alabama would get riled at the Washington Liberal elite and equate them "those damned people ruling us."

However, that aside, because it dodges the question, the answer is that guns are a symptom of a deeper psycho-social problem with American society that can't be addressed sensibly, because the answers would rile people to accuse lawmakers of making the country communist (or some such red herring).

According to some there's no such things as society, but yet here we are social creatures that require interactions with other human beings. The disparity between the rich and the poor has caused a rift in the structures underpinning society e.g. equality of opportunity has been undermined, which has disenfranchised the average citizen."

Not trying to cause an argument, but pointing out my answer was an answer to your question. It's just not one you like.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Yay! Discussions I can partake in and meaningfully contribute to!
} : = 8 D

@ Duncan:

You may well be a "good guy with a gun" but history - even US history - shows us that 99% of the time the "Armed Citizens" are on the side of the oppressors and tyrants

Can you clarify and provide examples of this? This is a broad, and rather damning statement, but it doesn't hold up in my own experience.

For one, our own revolution that founded our country wouldn't have been possible if not for an armed populace that was able to muster a militia equipped with muskets that were roughly contemporary to regular military weapons at the time.

And for two, more recently and most importantly, there are approximately 400 million guns in the US, by latest estimates and sales figures, about 40% of the ~1 billion guns worldwide (to put that into perspective, the world's militaries control about 133 million firearms, or about 13% of the total in the world). Over this latest Black Friday weekend, Americans bought enough firearms to entirely re-arm the US Marine Corps. In this country of 320-odd million, there are nearly 100 million more guns than people. There are tens of millions, probably well over a hundred million gun owners in the country.

Given that ALL gun deaths, including suicide (which accounts for roughly half of them) is roughly 30,000 a year, the vast, vast, vast, VAST majority of all gun owners in the US are not tyrants, oppressors, or murderers. 99.99% of people who possess a firearm do no harm.

Even if every single gun owner possessed 10 firearms like I do (most don't), and even if all 30,000 gun deaths were murders each individually caused by 30,000 murderers, that would only by 0.075% of all gun owners. That is 7.5% of 1%. Even with these ridiculously inflated numbers, 99.99925% of all gun owners do no harm.

If gun ownership, and the presence and availability of guns, was the problem, then our gun homicide rate would be orders of magnitude greater.



@Jacob:

I support hunting, pest control, sporting, collecting, self defense, and community defense. I don't agree with the idea that someone is at liberty to exercise lethal force on others.

If someone is trying to murder you, will you kill them to defend yourself? What if they're trying to murder your family, or your dog? Take your livelihood and leave you destitute? What if they might try to rape your wife or your daughter (or husband or son, it is almost 2020 after all)?

Nobody has the right to arbitrarily kill anyone else.

Everybody has the right to self-defense.

We are also social creatures, and we are both drawn by instinct and expected by the society that we have created to push back the shittiness of the world outside of our civilization, to help others in need. That includes people in need of defense.

This is not Star Trek. We do not have phasers we can set to stun, knock everyone out, then sort it all out when they wake up after being properly restrained. Tazers help, but they also have a number of stark limits and restrictions.

Human beings are also both extremely durable and delicate creatures. The force required to stop us immediately is often sufficient, or more than sufficient, to kill us outright. Especially when we're bound and determined to keep going.

I do not want to kill anyone. But if necessary to defend others or myself, I will not hesitate to do so.


(continued...)

Ilithi Dragon said...

@ Larry:

That said, I will point out that the Virginia bill 4021 you allude to, unless I'm missing something, wouldn't affect either of the firearms you mention above.

My shotgun is a Kel-Tec KSG. It's rated for 3-inch shells, so loading those is what it would be measured against under the Virginia bill. The KSG has two magazine tubes, each capable of loading 6 3-inch shells (or 7 2-3/4-inch "standard" shells), and so exceeds the 7-shell internal magazine capacity restriction.

The point that I was making, though, was not that those firearms would be outlawed under the Virginia bill. The point I was making was how much firearms are a part of my daily life. Most of my family members, including inlaws, carry concealed. Some more than others, and some only have one or two guns, while others have many more than I do.

I carry firearms around about as much as any standard "gun nut," and more than some (not counting my day job), yet I've voted blue my entire life. There are A LOT of people like me.



@Zepp:

I am curious, Dragon: how do you feel about school shootings? Do you believe that people have a right to weapons of mass destruction? Did the 2,500+ people who died from guns in Chicago alone this year deserve to die?

School shootings are appalling abominations. They also constitute a tiny fraction of the deaths that occur from firearms.

They are easily sensationalized, however, and so get a LOT of media attention. They are not, however, as rampant and catastrophic a problem as they are made out to be, and the sensationalized hysteria over them often leads to rash and ill-conceived, "knee-jerk" reactions that don't actually do anything to address or mitigate the problem.

The 2500 people who died from guns in Chicago did not deserve to die, of course not. Such a sensationalized, emotion-charged statement does not contribute to a constructive debate, however, nor was it meant to.

88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes every year. More than double-and-half the number of people killed by guns. Nobody is attempting to ban alcohol. The age restrictions on ownership and purchase of alcohol are not much different than that of guns. Guns have even more restrictions on purchasing (background checks, etc.).

Yet the efforts to reduce alcohol-related deaths are focused on education and teaching responsible use, rather than banning it all together.

Probably because we actually tried that, once, and prohibition didn't fucking work at all.

The solutions to gun violence in the US are not another Prohibition (it will work about as terribly as the alcohol one did), because the issue of Gun Violence is not GUNS. It is VIOLENCE.

GUN CRIME is not an issue of GUNS, it is an issue of CRIME. Most crimes, and MOST GUN HOMICIDES, are driven by socio-economic issues. Most homicides, including gun homicides, occur in the inner city, where poverty is rampant, education is poor, and social and economic opportunities are limited. Gang violence and related crimes account for the vast majority of those deaths.

If you were to remove the guns, you would not solve the problem. You would still have those deaths. They would just be caused by KNIVES and HAMMERS and BASEBALL BATS and any other weapon that can be brought to hand, and soon we would be looking at banning any bladed implement more deadly than a butter knife, just like the UK is doing.

Mass shootings are primarily caused by different issues, but also not GUNS. Most mass shooters are white, male, and suffering from mental illness and/or social isolation. The solution is not to remove guns, because those people would still be driven to mass homicide. Only, instead of GUNS, they would use home-made BOMBS and EXPLOSIVES, or home-made toxic gas, or a rented U-HAUL truck (such as the attack in Nice, France, where terrorists killed 86 people by running them over with a box truck).

(continued...)

Ilithi Dragon said...

More than half of all gun deaths are also SUICIDES, rather than HOMICIDES. Suicide rate is not driven by the presence of guns. There are plenty of other ways that people can quickly and irreversibly kill themselves, and a single-shot muzzle-loading pistol will do the job just as well as any handgun, so you'll never be able to completely remove guns from the equation unless you completely remove all firearms (which just won't happen).

Suicides are driven primarily by the same socio-economic issues that drive people to crime, social isolation, and mental health issues related to depression.


Rather than removing ONE avenue by which people attempt to kill each other, ONE avenue by which people attempt to kill themselves, we should instead BE TRYING TO REMOVE THE REASON PEOPLE TRY TO KILL EACH OTHER OR THEMSELVES IN THE FIRST PLACE.


As for weapons of mass destruction... Depends on what you define as WMDs. Currently, they are nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. Two of those are outlawed internationally and constitute war crimes if they are used.

In the not-too-distant-future, when we're trucking things about the solar system, any two-bit freighter can become a WMD if piloted correctly (or incorrectly...).

Does everyone need a SAM launcher or an anti-tank battery? No.

Should they be completely outlawed? Personally, I don't think so.

I've discussed here before, though it's been a few years, the system for gun regulation that I personally prefer. It's based on Dr. Brin's own "militia rifle" concept, and borrows heavily from it.

I personally think that manual-action long-arms (Dr. Brin's "militia rifle") should not be regulated or registered beyond a requirement that you be 18 years of age to purchase them, and show proof of having completed a standard firearms safety course prior to buying. These would be classed as "Tier 1" firearms. Pistols and semi-automatic long-arms would fall into higher tiers, and require further safety-course training and age restrictions. Carrying concealed would require a nationally-recognized CCW permit, that requires completion of a training course that covers both the safe handling and use of a concealed weapon, and basic use-of-force principles and training (standard guidelines for when deadly force is justified or not justified, etc.), as well as a basic marksmanship course to show that you can handle the weapon around others without being a hazard.

Additional tiers would include fully-automatic weapons and explosives, that would require additional certification, permitting and insurance, as well as more detailed background checks and psychological screening.

Someone wants to own a mil-surplus 105mm howitzer? I'm totally fine with that. They just have to get the perquisite safety and training certifications and permits, and can't fire it if their insurance for it isn't active.


@Larry:

Second Amendment Interpretation

The thing about our legal system is that it is not strictly 100% literal. It is driven much by context and precedent.

The context of the Second Amendment was that "Arms" meant the arms of the day - flint-lock, muzzle-loading muskets and rifles. The average citizen was expected to be able to be called up to man a militia, and to supply their own arms.

Our modern-day, more regulated militaries are a bit different than in those days, but I suspect the framers of those amendments were deliberately broad in their wording.

The principle still remains today, however. That armed population provides a strategic layer of defense. Admiral Yamamoto was famously quoted as thinking an invasion of mainland US was idiocy because "you would find a rifle behind every blade of grass."

(continued...)

Ilithi Dragon said...

In the event that things go terribly wrong, and we face an invasion of the mainland US, that armed population will have limited effectiveness against tanks and planes, but they will play merry hell on any invading troops (and you can't hold territory with tanks and planes, it's boots on the ground that does that). Millions of armed civilians forming old-school militias armed with hunting rifles and AR-15s (which share common ammunition with standard military firearms, allowing the regular military and militia to supply each other) would be poorly matched in a one-on-one straight up fight against regular infantry, but they would be a nightmare guerilla force that would threaten any land army not backed up by significant artillery, and would threaten them even then.

Even without concentrated force, such an armed population would be a constant threat of snipers and ambushes.

Consider all of the problems we had with insurgent fighters in Afghanistan and Iraq, but given then an order of magnitude more people, and two orders of magnitude more firearms.


Additionally, that protection against tyranny and oppression by our own government is equally important. It's an insurance policy, a shield you hope to never have need to use, but whose presence is still felt and provides passive protection even when not actively used.

An armed population has a power that they can use to check against the government, and that can be expressed even passively. Just the KNOWLEDGE that the population is armed and can resist goes a long way.

Moreover, that power to resist will be vitally important moving forward. As Dr. Brin notes, to guard against tyranny and oppression (be it government, corporate, theological, criminal, or what-have-you), we absolutely need the ability to "look back" and see what our would-be oppressors might be up to. But that ability to look back is ultimately powerless if all we can do is look back and complain. Because, eventually, those who might seek to oppress others won't care.

(continued...)

Ilithi Dragon said...

@Larry again:

That's the real question, isn't it? One side sees a staggering number of gun deaths and feels "Something needs to be done to fix this!" Another side sees the same gun deaths as tragic, but a part of the landscape, akin to the number of traffic-related fatalities. Each such individual death is unfortunate, but collectively, they're a fact of life like tornadoes or earthquakes.

You pretty well hit the nail on the head, here. Both sides are talking past each other, and think the other is heartless monsters or tyrannical oppressors.

I, personally, have a foot squarely in both camps, and I think anyone who doesn't is either blinded by ideology, not being honest with themselves, or an idiot.

Yes, something must be done about this. It is a tragedy, and we should not just let it continue unabated.

HOWEVER, it is vitally important that we not take rash action. If we want to solve this tragedy, we must address the real problem, not make emotional, knee-jerk reactions that attack symptoms and damage the freedom and happiness of millions while doing not a damn bit of good to actually solve the problem and stop the tragedy.

I care about stopping deaths, regardless of what they are caused by. I also prefer to do so while minimally impacting the liberty and happiness of others.

WE ALL SHOULD.

To that end, if we truly care about both of those things (rather than flying high on self-righteous indignation), we must take measured and considered action, targeting the root cause of the problem.

That won't be easy, though, because the root causes of those problems won't be easily tackled nor solved. They are deep, persistent, and often endemic problems that require significant change to seemingly unrelated things.

They also require us to WORK TOGETHER AS A NATION, rather than trying to stamp our own personal, quick-fix band-aid solution over anyone who disagrees with us.

Believe me, I understand how frustrating that is after the Dems have tried to take action on this issue for decades while being stonewalled by the GOP the entire time. It pisses me off, too, and I've been trying to get it through the thick skulls of my conservative friends that total stonewalling and refusal to cooperate on anything or DO anything on this issue is going to come back and bite them in the ass with stuff like the Virginia bill for YEARS.

But we still have to work with them, and if they decide to actively oppose you on this, YOU WILL FAIL.

We will ALL fail, because nothing will be done, and people will keep dying.

(end)

Larry Hart said...

@Zepp and @Ashley and @Iliti,

Way too many words up there to address individually. :)

A few points...

Ilithi, my point with reference to your particular firearms was that, at first reading, I thought your objection to the Virginia law was that it authorized confiscation of all guns. When I read the text of the law, it looked as if it was aimed specifically at "assault weapons", which I acknowledge is a not-well-defined category, but one that I take to mean something like what Zepp means when he says "weapons of mass destruction". The law itself seemed more reasonable than you made it sound, though I have no doubt the right-wing could rile up voters over it.

Strategically, I agree with you.

On the issue of "deserve to die", the issue is better framed rhetorically as whether someone deserved to die at the whim of an individual. Of course, everyone dies. Of course, many people die in traffic accidents or workplace mishaps or bizarre happenstances. None of that is equivalent to attack by a fellow human being that maims or kills him. That last is a violation of an individual's right to life with a perpetrator whom society must sanction if "society" is to have any meaning. The others are unfortunate incidents, but not a violation of anyone's rights.

Mostly directed at Ashley, but just to be clear, my position is that of course the right to bear arms can't be absolute, using as an example that we regulate nuclear devices and bioweapons. My point is that if we can do that, we can also regulate guns, because there is no difference in the law between those things and guns. I'm arguing against the popular notion that guns are somehow held sacred by the Second Amendment. They're not.

Ilithi, "If we ban guns, we'll have the same deaths with knives and baseball bats." We wouldn't have school shootings or disgruntled employees "going postal" or Las Vegas-style mass killings from the top floor of a hotel. Sure, people would still kill, but not in the same quantities in such a short period of time before they could be subdued. That's the whole point of distinguishing the battlefield weapons used in such incidents as WMDs. Arguing that a densely populated civilian area is no place for WMDs does not require one to "hate" all guns or oppose all gun ownership.

Ilithi, I'm actually curious now and don't know what your response would be to this. You seem comfortable with armed citizens taking up arms, not just against a foreign invasion, but against our government if perceived as becoming tyrannous. Does that apply if the current administration is seen to be so? I ask because I perceive a widespread bias in this country that it is permissible for Republicans to take up arms against tyranny by Democrats, but heaven forfend the other way around. I don't really expect that you subscribe to that, but I also don't expect that you agree with taking up arms against an administration that considers itself above the law. So I ask.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Ashley: The problem with AR-15s isn't the size of the projectile: it's the muzzle velocity, rate of fire, and size of clip that make them so horrific. The smaller size is actually a more destructive element, since the high velocity projectiles tend to tumble upon impact, causing greater cavitation. It's not difficult to modify such weapons to go from the legal semi-automatic fire to full 'machine gun' automatic. Hydrostatic shock from being hit with an AR15 is a major medical problem, and often kills people who weren't hit in any vital organs.
I didn't suggest amending the Constitution, and am baffled that you thought I did.
But since you mention the Constitution, it was written 13 years after the colonies declared independence, and was a reaction, not only to English misrule, but the failed attempt at a confederacy in the intervening years. It's worth noting that while the colonists took a dim view of George III, they adopted much of English common law into their governance.
As far as psychosexual elements of the American fixation on guns, see my remarks on Yosemite Sam. I was being facetious but not entirely facetious. The Founders toyed with the notion of establishing a monarchy as part of the new government. I sometimes wish they had: EIIR may be purely decorative as a ruler, but her ribbon-cutting roles takes a lot of pressure (and false prestige) off the Prime Minister--any prime minister, not just this one.
Society is a construct, and an endlessly malleable one. Whether it "exists" or not depends on your expectations of it, I should think. I do agree that the social contract, the fealty between rich and poor has been broken, and lay much of the blame for that at the feet of Ayn Rand and various plutocrats who essentially declared it moral to steal from the working class and the poor.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Dragon wrote: "School shootings are appalling abominations. They also constitute a tiny fraction of the deaths that occur from firearms."

Back about 15 years ago, a kid managed to lock himself in a car trunk ("boot" for the Brits present) and died. A bill was passed ordering mitigation of the situation, and cars have inside latches in trunks and some have kick away back seat panels to allow for easy egress.
So how many people had died in car trunks by accident (not including mob movies?)
Two.
Nonetheless, easily preventable deaths, and, if only a small fraction of the 40,000 a year who died in car accidents, easily addressed. No car manufacturer's lobby to scream that children had an inviolate constitutional right to look themselves in car trunks.
I do agree that the answer has to be carefully thought out and fairly easy to implement. Most current 'solutions' leave children with the privacy and mobility of prison inmates, and other notions such as arming the teachers are frankly idiotic.
Stopping the wrong people from getting guns is impossible unless and until guns are registered and owners require to report sale or theft of their weapons. (As you would with your automobile, and despite what the NRA thinks, people can still purchase cars).
Limiting the carnage weapons can cause is the second approach, and more feasible in the long run.

Ilithi Dragon said...

@Larry et al:

I object to the use of the term "WMD" to refer to firearms.

Words have meanings. To facilitate proper communications, we must properly use those words.

Sometimes those meanings change over time, but arbitrarily taking one word (or phrase) that means a specific, well-defined thing, and using it to refer to something else that doesn't fall into that definition just because your personal feelings draw some philosophical association between the two does not facilitate communication.

It only serves to charge things emotionally, cloud understanding, and confuse discourse with people who don't share your philosophical association.

If we want to have a meaningful discussion and effective communication and discourse, we need to stick to established and well-defined terms.

Regardless of your emotional attachment to the concept, an AR-15 or an M16 or even an M240 machine gun is not a WMD. Referring to them as one is definitionally incorrect. Insisting on using that term to describe such firearms not only lessens the value your words have to anyone familiar with both, it emotionally charges YOU with feelings and biases that would normally be reserved for such truly horrifying things as nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons.

There is a time for passion and emotion, particularly when we need to drive people to take action.

When we have already decided to take action, and must now decide what action to take to best solve our problems, however, we must cool our emotions and consider rationally, with calm and level heads.



Believe it or not, Locum actually provided some poignant points on this. They were buried under a mountain of snark and cynicism (seriously, man, you could provide such meaningful contributions to the discussions here if could just get over yourself and stop snidely attacking everyone), but still useful when properly dusted off.

Point 1: Chicago has some of the strictest gun legislation in the country, in a state with some of the strictest gun legislation of all the states. Yet, despite all that legislation, gun crime is rampant in Chicago, higher most other places in the country (I'd have to look up the statistics, but I think Chicago and Baltimore top the country's crime and murder rates, by far).

Part of this is because Chicago and Illinois are surrounded by states that DON'T have such restrictive gun laws, so criminals can easily go to another state, buy a gun, and bring it in to Chicago.

But that goes to the larger point I'm trying to make about strategy:

Even if banning guns would actually solve the problem (and it won't, because it addresses a symptom and not the root cause), banning is not a viable solution because it cannot be effectively implemented, or implemented at all.

Point 2: There is a tendency among Democrats and Progressives to think that just passing the right laws will solve problems. Sometimes, the right legislation causes problems, but not always. Particularly, the more complex a problem, the more numerous, varied, and complex solutions will be required to solve it.

Locum is off the mark a bit here, though, because legislation can be used to solve a lot of problems, if the legislation is thoughtfully and pragmatically designed. Legislation is more than just banning or restricting something, after all. Legislation can be used to enact or direct policies, create support programs, and other institutions that can more directly and effectively act to address problems.


Point 1 also brings me back to the greater issue, and one of the core issues with the Virginia bill: It focuses on banning and restricting.

That's the problem.

It focuses on banning aspects and features of firearms that do not significantly or meaningfully impact the function and lethality of those firearms for the purposes of committing crimes and mass homicides.

Aspects and features that are fairly common in varying degrees in the firarms community.


(continued...)

Ilithi Dragon said...

Modern firearms have pistol grips for the purposes of ergonomics, particularly over protracted periods. This does not affect the VAST majority of gun crimes, because the VAST majority of gun homicides are committed with pistols. It only impacts the minuscule portion of gun homicides that mass shootings constitute, and many of those are also committed with pistols.

The remainder would not be significantly hampered or impacted by the lack of a pistol grip.

Flash suppressors don't actually hide the flash of a weapon, they just redirect it so it doesn't obscure the shooter's vision as much. This is impactful in combat, particularly in low-light conditions, when the split-second obscuring of one's vision can mean the difference between getting on target or not in CQB. In most active shooter scenarios, when the shooter's targets are running away and not actively resisting and so it doesn't matter if his target picture is obscured for a split second. The presence or absence of a flash suppressor will not have meaningfully impacted the lethality of any previous mass shooting.

Muzzle brakes serve to reduce recoil by redirecting muzzle exhaust to act as a jet to counteract recoil. They have minimal impact outside of larger-caliber firearms, because recoil is already so low, and their utility is limited outside of a handful of specific circumstances. The military doesn't typically use them, except on high-caliber, anti-material weapons. The only "mass shooting" attacks they would have a meaningful impact on would be sniper-style attacks, which are rare even among mass shootings.

Silencers don't actually silence firearms, or even make them quiet. They just make them less loud. Their depiction in movies and video games is 100% false. A silencer will take a firearm that discharges with a report of 140-150 decibels, and reduce it to 120-130 decibels. They were developed as a form of HEARING CONSERVATION, and to reduce the disruption of target shooting had for neighbors. They reduce the levels of hearing protection required to muffle a gunshot, but hearing protection is still required. To my knowledge, no mass shooting has been committed with silencers.

All of these things provide optimization or improved ergonomics under certain circumstances and conditions (some very particular), which can have a significant impact in large-scale military functions (.5% improvement x 1 million troops adds up quickly), but has no significant impact in the individual circumstances of mass shootings, or outright do not apply to most cases of gun homicide.


Yet all of these things are banned under the Virginia bill. Banned for no meaningful impact.

Not only are they banned, they are banned with no provision for a grandfather clause for all the people who bought those firearms legally, prior to the ban, and they must be removed or turned in without any provision for compensation for the people who spent hundreds or thousands of dollars on items that were legal at the time they bought them.

It's a piss-poor law that screws a LOT of people out of items they spent a LOT of money on, and that bring them a LOT of personal value, all for NO MEANINGFUL IMPACT or actual problem solving capacity.

And the bill will be utterly unenforceable. By the time the June deadline rolls around, I'd be surprised if ANY county in the state hasn't declared themselves to be a "firarms sanctuary" county. The only potential holdouts are the DC suburb counties that voted those democrats in in the first place.

(continued...)

Ilithi Dragon said...

@Larry:

Ilithi, I'm actually curious now and don't know what your response would be to this. You seem comfortable with armed citizens taking up arms, not just against a foreign invasion, but against our government if perceived as becoming tyrannous. ... So I ask.

My oath was to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America, against all enemies, foreign and domestic." Emphasis mine.

Those domestic enemies could be home-grown domestic terrorists, bent on overthrowing the government, or they could be an agent or agency within the government who has gained enough power to egregiously undermine or bypass the Constitution.

The actions that I, personally, would take in such cases is very limited. We have a number of other institutions that would be exhausted long before the military would be brought to bear, and I have my own role to play within that larger organization. But if we get to that point, we're really in the shit.


As for armed revolt... It doesn't matter WHO the tyrant is, a tyrant is a tyrant, and should be opposed. It makes no difference to me whether that tyrant is a Dem opposed by Reps, or a Rep opposed by Dems, or anything else. My personal firearms are kept as protection against both.

For an armed revolt to be justified, however, it must be a measure of last resort, and the offenses must be egregious. Revolt because you don't like who was elected president makes you a confederate traitor. Revolt because you don't like a particular law or policy and haven't done anything to change it makes you a terrorist.

Like the framers of our Declaration of Independence, armed revolt is only justified when all other options have been thoroughly exhausted, and there is no room to maneuver within the system, and even options beyond the system have been thoroughly exhausted.

Anything less is treason.

(end)

duncan cairncross said...

Ilithi Dragon

Just look at US history - armed citizens have oppressed
Slaves, Farmers, Herders, Native Americans, Union members, ....

The reason that the old "Cowboy Films" had the good men with the guns was because that was a "Man Bites Dog" story

The revolution is contentious - it was not the Armed citizens that fought well as much as the French Army - and the "loyalist" were murdered and chased off their land by the "armed citizens"

We saw how useful the "Armed Citizens" were in case of war when the USA invaded "Canada" - and got their butts kicked

The actual DATA shows that having the US system leads to a much much higher murder rate than similar countries with more sensible gun regulations like Canada and Australia

Suicides
Data from the "rest of the world" shows that 80% of suicide attempts end in failure and most of the people who try don't try again
But in the USA a gun is such a reliable tool that 95% of suicide attempts work - giving no opportunity to regret the attempt

We (NZ) have just made "assault weapons" illegal - after a bloody foreigner came to NZ and killed 50 people - we have not voted on that but the polls say that 90% are in favor of the ban
There is always a discussion about what is an "Assault Weapon" - the eventual decision was anything that can fire more than five bullets without reloading - with an exemption for very small bore weapons for pest control (0.22)

The UK gun laws are strict - but 90% of the population want to make them stricter or leave them alone - only 4% were in favor of relaxing them

I wonder what percentage of the US population would vote to adopt the UK laws if they could ??

Back to your original point - YES this is probably NOT the best time for the Dems to be doing that - but then what is?

Do you have to wait until the brain damaged older generations (boomers) die off before you can move into the 20th century

locumranch said...



Look at UK & EU history:

Saved by armed US barbarians WW1, WW2, post-war reconstruction & the Cold War, and now literally shitting themselves at the thought of US isolationism & a potential US withdrawal from NATO, and ever so terrified over an ambitious China, a resurgent Russia & an over-populated Indonesia.

Good riddance to over-civilised EU, UK & Aus rubbish, I always say, and let them defend their over-civilised selves.


Best

TCB said...

Ilithi Dragon, way up thread, hath said:

"Suicides are driven primarily by the same socio-economic issues that drive people to crime, social isolation, and mental health issues related to depression.


Rather than removing ONE avenue by which people attempt to kill each other, ONE avenue by which people attempt to kill themselves, we should instead BE TRYING TO REMOVE THE REASON PEOPLE TRY TO KILL EACH OTHER OR THEMSELVES IN THE FIRST PLACE."

Michael Moore made this very point in Bowling For Columbine, if I recall, when he went to "the bad part of town" up in Toronto (I think). He noted that the Canadians have about as many guns as Unistaters do, but their gun violence problem is WHAAAYYY smaller.

Funny, that.

David Brin said...


Ilithi welcome back. And I am shocked to see that gun control bill in VA. Most dems have been discreet about it and asked only for things like genuine, computerized background checks, red flags and small magazine/clips. One reason is that millions of liberals have quietly armed themselves since 2001.

I hope you’ll get POLEMICAL JUDO and read my chapters about Reaching Out and then about Splitterism.

The latter chapter addresses a lot of this. And yes, the far-left will try so hard to feed their own sanctimony in preference to anything remotely like pursuit of victory.

I do recommend that there are middle-ground thinks to keep under-pillow and in pocket. A combination of a screamer and a pepper spray would likely disrupt any unpleasant fellows long enough to get at more securely stored arms.

As for armed revolt. I left my “Militia Rifle” essay out of Polemical Judo, but I hope to include it in Part II. I do recommend recalling how it discusses the “insurrectionary recourse.”

http://www.tinyurl.com/jrifle

Daniel Duffy said...

"Saved by armed US barbarians"

Britain stood alone for a full year from the fall of France in June 1940 to the invasion of Russia in June 1941. It sacrificed itself and bankrupted itself, endured Dunkirk, the Blitz and the u-boat campaign trying to cut is merchant lifeline. To quote Churchill"

"Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science."

The Brits saved the world from a new dark age, while we stayed safe across the Atlantic in sanctimonious isolation.

As for defeating Hitler, that honor goes to the Russian people. The North African theater, the Italian campaign, the entire Western Front after D-Day - even the entire war in the Pacific was a mere side show compared to the titanic struggle on the Russian Front.

140,000 American GIs died on the western front, 119,000 in Italy.Almost 20 million Russians died in that war, about 1/5 of its entire population.

There were 10,000 Allied casualties (6,600 Americans) on D-Day. The Russians suffered 1,130,000 casualties at Stalingrad.

12,000 Americans surrendered at Bataan. 616,000 Russians were captured during the Kiev encirclement in 1941.

Yes, American entry into the war was decisive. But it was the Brits and the Russians that protected and saved us.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"
I object to the use of the term "WMD" to refer to firearms."
Object away, but I use WMD to refer to some guns in just that manner because they are weapons designed primarily to facilitate the mass killing of people. We need to avoid the nomenclature imposed by the NRA and stop pretending that 50mm weapons are good for hunting squirrels and chasing off burglars. That's not their intended purpose. Now you can debate where the line lies between home and personal defence weapons are and weapons of mass destruction, and there's no doubt legitimate differences of opinions to be found. But things like the AR-15 have only one purpose, and that is to kill as many people as possible as quickly as possible, and no sane society has any need or benefit from having such loose on the streets.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"Saved by armed US barbarians WW1, WW2"

The Battle of Britain was over a year before the US grudgingly showed up, rubbing its collective ass and glaring over its shoulder at Japan. And at that, the US role was miniscule compared to that of the Soviet Union. Similarly, WW1 broke out in 1914, not 1917, and again, US involvement was minor, limited to the European front and of comparatively short duration. The Scots alone were a more decisive force in that war than was America.

Larry Hart said...

@Ilithi,

Didn't mean to offend with "WMD". Do you agree we need a different word for something that allows a single individual to essentially "spray" death and destruction over many people in too short a period of time to respond in time to prevent the slaughter? So we can discuss such things distinctly from handguns and shotguns and hunting rifles? If not, why not?


Believe it or not, Locum actually provided some poignant points on this. They were buried under a mountain of snark and cynicism (seriously, man, you could provide such meaningful contributions to the discussions here if could just get over yourself and stop snidely attacking everyone), but still useful when properly dusted off.


I used to argue with loc. Even traded quotes from movie musicals with him. It seemed worthwhile until almost every sentence contained a noun and a verb which asserted something diametrically opposite of truth, and then went off on a self-righteous rant objecting to that false assertion. And slandering me personally in the process, insisting that I stood for principles that I vehemently oppose.

So after months and years of saying I would, I finally stopped reading his shit. I won't even skim past the nym. I acknowledge that I might miss the times when the stopped clock happens to be correct. I can live with that. If he ever has something important for me to know about, I'm sure someone else will quote him.


Chicago has some of the strictest gun legislation in the country, in a state with some of the strictest gun legislation of all the states. Yet, despite all that legislation, gun crime is rampant in Chicago, higher most other places in the country...

Part of this is because Chicago and Illinois are surrounded by states that DON'T have such restrictive gun laws, so criminals can easily go to another state, buy a gun, and bring it in to Chicago.


Exactly right. I live in suburban Chicago, and what you say is the case. Indiana is one such source of guns, but there are known pipelines from as far away as Louisiana.


My oath was to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America, against all enemies, foreign and domestic."


Applause and thank God for you, then. No sarcasm.

This is just my opinion, but I think you're missing a domestic one, though. Ok, probably not enough yet to justify armed revolt, but then I haven't called for armed revolt. Enough to justify peaceful, non-violent resistance. And mocking disrespect.


Those domestic enemies could be home-grown domestic terrorists, bent on overthrowing the government, or they could be an agent or agency within the government who has gained enough power to egregiously undermine or bypass the Constitution.


Emphasis mine. We're on the brink, aren't we?


As for armed revolt... It doesn't matter WHO the tyrant is, a tyrant is a tyrant, and should be opposed. It makes no difference to me whether that tyrant is a Dem opposed by Reps, or a Rep opposed by Dems, or anything else. My personal firearms are kept as protection against both.


Good to hear. I don't hear that very much. I hear Ann Coulter calling democrats "Traitors!" as the title of a book, and Republicans nod in agreement. I hear Republicans say that calling Trump a traitor is treason in itself. When Clinton or Obama was president, "criticizing the president during wartime" was considered the patriotic duty of Republicans in congress. When Bush or Trump is president, the same exact thing is called treason. The playing field isn't level.


For an armed revolt to be justified, however, it must be a measure of last resort, and the offenses must be egregious. Revolt because you don't like who was elected president makes you a confederate traitor. Revolt because you don't like a particular law or policy and haven't done anything to change it makes you a terrorist.


Well said. More applause.

locumranch said...


Zepp is right:

If the the Scots alone were a more decisive force in than the USA, then it's no worries if the USA leaves the World Police job to the almighty Scots & their highly capable EU allies who, for some unknown reason, appear unable to fund even a minuscule fraction of the NATO budget, police their own borders or maintain a functioning 19th Century railroad.

It never ceases to amaze how the civilised EU tribes are always shocked when the hands they mock & bite become unwilling to feed, shelter & protect them.

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

Let's leave those EU ingrates to their own devices -- to shed their own immaculate blood in defence of their fabulous ideals -- while we bring our selfless US patriots home safe onto their native soil.


Best

TCB said...

@ Zepp. when I was a boy I collected the HECK out of plastic model kits. (The best one ever, by a country mile, was the 3 foot Revell Saturn 5 rocket which is available as a reissue and a bargain at 114 bucks but I digress...

Anyhoo, the P-39 Airacobra fighter airplane came with US and Soviet markings. The Soviet Jeeeps looked EXACTLY like American ones. Because we built them. US-made ammunition flowed up to Murmansk and ended up in Nazi bodies.

Others spend more blood than the US, but the war (and our lives since then) was partly won on American factory floors. And American farms. I hear tell that Soviet soldiers ate vast amounts of Spam just like GI's did.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"Scots & their highly capable EU allies who, for some unknown reason, appear unable to fund even a minuscule fraction of the NATO budget, police their own borders or maintain a functioning 19th Century railroad."

Oh, good heavens. You've turned into a Trumpkin.

I am curious as to why the EU would want to spend money on a 19th century railroad when they have so many perfectly serviceable 21st century railroads.

Now the US--THAT has a 19th century railroad!

Zepp Jamieson said...

TCB wrote "[WW2} was partly won on American factory floors...."

I don't dispute that for an instant. Lend Lease and the marine convoys made it possible for the USSR and the UK to keep fighting. And I was understating US military significance because I tire of ignorami who try to claim the US "saved" whoever and basically won the war on their own. It was significant.

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

Every thing done often becomes custom, right? Up until Tyler's veto, Presidents had used it sparingly and in the restricted 'judicial review' sense. There is nothing to stop Presidents doing that as well as the way the modern veto is used, but the custom at the time had the President playing a weak role in legislating. Signature as Acknowledgement.

dog who catches the car

I'll have to disagree with respect to Clinton. They tried twice and investigated him essentially non-stop. I think they wanted blood. When they got him on perjury, I suspect they were doing a happy dance while they called it a solemn event.

That impeachment efforts rarely made it out of HJC (or even to it in many cases) says something about the party boss system, I think. Party bosses know how to manage events to benefit themselves. That usually means negotiating with the opposing party bosses even if it is just a wink and a nod.

With the recent switch from bosses to primaries, boss power has been reduced. For example, in the boss system, it is really unlikely AOC would have been elected. It's unlikely ANY extremist would be tolerated except as a sop because of the need to negotiate with the opposition. Without the boss system, extremists do better in primaries and we wind up with few moderates. The populists get what they want. Purity of Purpose and no negotiating on principles. Populism fever.

probably the reason that impeachment of Pence is off the table

Could be, but I doubt it this time. No doubt they are aware of the optics, but I think this is a better example of cutting off the head of the snake knowing what it will do to the rest of the body. If they manage to convict Two Scoops in the Senate, Pence's career is over anyway. Why bother with impeachment? Just let the next DoJ decide whether to indict.

David Brin said...

After Kursk, Stalin had no more reason to spend Russian men like cheap bullets. Germans at Normandy said "If you had used Russian tactics, you'd have been in Berlin by September." That's exactly what Stalin feared and why he sent human wave attacks instead of fighting tactically for maximum outcomes at minimum casualties.

Yes, it got him to Berlin befores us... and Russia is still suffering the demographic cost. And it never would have happened without divisions and corps and whole armies equipped directly by US/British freighters. I don't under-rate the Soviet contribution. But tallies of their men lost do not fairly measure proportionate value.

We & the Brits captured more Germans by some margin, in Tunisia, than the Soviets did at Stalingrad. Those are stats that matter.

Alfred Differ said...

Did the 2,500+ people who died from guns in Chicago alone this year deserve to die?

This is a damn stupid question. Impressively so.
Let's play for the emotional response immediately and abandon all hope of retaining blue voters in our moment of need.

Pfft.

Alfred Differ said...

Ilithi Dragon,

My understanding of gun death stats is that suicides make up a large fraction of them AND that the primary driver of the fraction is ease of access to loaded weapons. The argument goes that suicides often involve some kind of emotional tipping point, thus ease of access lowers a potential barrier and the suicide completes their task successfully.

I know you said you sleep with a loaded weapon nearby when you can and carry when you can, but I'll point out that is EXACTLY the barrier reduction issue the suicide prevention people discuss.

I'm too much a libertarian to want to take your guns from you, but I'm also someone impacted (indirectly... more than once) by suicide. Also, I'm not above telling you that your preferred position is in conflict with known information about how best to reduce suicide success rates. Look around you at the men and women who serve nearby. This is NOT a small issue for us. Ponder it awhile please.

Ilithi Dragon said...

@ Larry:

I'm not offended by the use of WMD, but it does produce an eye-roll. Use of incorrect language on gun control is one of the things that undermines the validity (in conservative eyes) of any argument made by the left.

Pick a thing that you know a lot about, or have grown up around since childhood. You don't need to be a top-notch expert on the thing, just regularly familiar.

Now picture someone trying to tell you stuff about that thing you are quite familiar with, stuff that conflicts with your own experiences, all the while using incorrect terminology to talk about that thing.

They would come across as an idiot, right? Someone babbling on about something they don't actually know or understand anything about, like some seasoned expert. We've all known people like that, and we all rightly despise them for it.

That's how the Left comes across to the Right when they insist on using their own terms and phrases, making up terms, or using existing terminology incorrectly (like "assault weapon" - it's a word made up by the media that has no real definition, but sounds scary, and is clung to by the left for that reason).


This has nothing at all to do with whether or not the ARGUMENT is correct, that's entirely beside the point that I'm trying to make (and I'm fairly certain you understand this point, Larry, this is more for other people's benefit).

Your opinion or position could be right, it could be wrong, but you're not going to do a damn bit of good trying to convince someone if you do not communicate effectively, and you eschew good tactics and strategy in your arguments (and your timing of them).

Which ties into the larger point I'm trying to make.

It doesn't matter whose right and whose wrong on gun control, and whether or not the presence of guns contributes to the problem.

It doesn't matter if removing guns would or would not solve the problem.

Because it won't happen. You might as well try to save people from the possibility of drowning by removing all the water on the planet, because you have about as much chance of making that happen as you do in severely restricting firearms in the US.

There is plenty of legislation that can be set to help address the issue, but restricting guns is not one of them. Not because it may or may not work (and I would argue that it won't actually do anything to significantly alleviate the problem), but because too many people in this country oppose that restriction.

The Dems might get it, for a very brief period (assuming they can scrape up the congress seats to make it happen, which they won't, and also have a president which won't veto the bill), but it will be unenforceable, and the best you can hope for is that states and counties across the nation will declare themselves "firearms sanctuaries" and refuse to enforce the law, and you will hand the following election to the GOP in a landslide. They will completely repeal everything the Dems set in place regarding the ban, probably slam through a bunch of extra BS on top of it, and the Dems will find themselves having committed political suicide for not only no gain, but being even further back from where they started (and the gun manufacturers will make bank).

That's the best you can hope for if the Dems try to push through major gun restrictions on a national scale, and also what will happen if more Dems try to push through legislation like the Virginia bill in other states.

The worst that you can expect is outright civil war. And I'm not being dramatic on that. That is a hard line that WILL be drawn, because that will hit almost every "stand against tyranny, this is it" touchstone the Right has.

So, regardless of whether or not the solution of severe gun restrictions will actually work (and again, I argue that it will not actually have any meaningful impact), the path to that solution is impassable.

There are bigger and more important fish to fry.


(continued...)

Ilithi Dragon said...

Yes, it's tragic that people are dying. I wish I had a magic wand I could wave and save everyone. But the reality is that we can't save everyone all at once.

Sometimes we have to pick our battles. Sometimes we have to recognize fights that we will not win.



@ Alfred:

Oh, yes, ease of access to firearms absolutely is a contributing factor to suicides. That’s why people are encouraged to lock their guns up, or pass them to someone else for safe-keeping, if they feel themselves getting into a depressive low. I know a couple of guys who have done just that, and then took their firearms back when they were back in a better headspace.

And I think that’s one of the big keys: raising awareness both of what the symptoms of such depression are to watch out for, and teaching people that it is okay to seek help, and that it is something that you can completely recover from and get back to normal.

I know one of the big fears that people have for seeking help, aside from the social stigma and sense of shame, is that they’ll be forever branded with it. It’s not the case, but that fear is there.

The fear of how it could impact one’s career is also there. Especially when one’s line of work, by necessity, includes a healthy dose of the attitude of “it’s a hard job, suck it the fuck up and carry on.”

I’ve also been touched by suicide. A previous roommate of mine, after I had moved out, shot himself while standing watch. In hindsight, all the warning signs were there, but at the time I just thought he was starting to mellow out a bit after getting past the 21-year-old booze and party stage.

I also had an old scoutmaster hang himself in the woods. He was just finishing a nasty divorce and was fighting for custody of his kids when I first met him, but he ended up spending years isolated from his kids, and the rest of the community.

That one still haunts me today, because right around the time he hung himself, I had actually been thinking of him. A big part of me wishes that I had reached out to him then, because he might still be alive if I had.

(end)

TCB said...

Dr. Brin said: "We & the Brits captured more Germans by some margin, in Tunisia, than the Soviets did at Stalingrad. Those are stats that matter."

Sent more of them home alive after the war, too, I'll wager.

David Brin said...

Primaries and the radicals who dominate them became far more important under gerrymandering. States that get rid of that crime see lessened bilious partisanship, even in states where one pary still dominates, like CA.

David Brin said...

"Sent more of them home alive after the war, too, I'll wager." Many had the time of their lives in Arizona.

duncan cairncross said...

Ilithi Dragon

I suspect that if you want to be able to keep using guns then you would be better off with more restrictions

If you don't agree sensible restrictions then the American people will decide - If it gets to that point I expect them to want much much GREATER restrictions than in the UK

There is a significant desire to "fix" the US gun problem - especially amongst the young - if nothing is done the pressure will build until it cannot be stopped

Ilithi Dragon said...

Duncan,

This isn't a young-vs-old issue. It's more a rural-vs-urban issue, though that's not entirely accurate, either.

The disagreement won't just go away as older people die off.

I will also, once again, argue that all of those proposed restrictions won't do a damn bit of good.

Pistol grips, flash suppressors, muzzle brakes, barrel shrouds, etc. etc. all have functions and utility on a military scale, sometimes even then only in specific circumstances. On a military scale, and the circumstances of use unique to warfare.

On the smaller scales that crimes are committed, for most crimes, they don't even come into play. Long arms, rifles and shotguns, are not used in the vast majority of gun crimes. Legislation governing those will have a minimal impact, at best.

The small remainder of crimes that do feature long arms will not be meaningfully impacted by the presence or absence of any of those "scary assault features." A semi-auto rifle is still a semi-auto rifle whether it has a pistol grip or not. It is still fully functional in that role. They still throw lead the same.

Even magazine capacity restrictions are a sketchy argument, at best. One of the deadliest shootings, Virginia Tech, was committed with two pistols and nine- and ten-round magazines. The shooter just brought a backpack full of extra magazines.

Conversely, the Giffords shooter was tackled to the ground because he fumbled reloading his extended magazine, because over-sized pistol magazines are cumbersome and unwieldy. The Colorado theater shooter had an AR-15 with a 120-round double drum magazine, but only got off a few shots before the thing jammed, forcing him to abandon the weapon.

There is a reason why the military doesn't use such ultra-high-capacity magazines: They're awkward, unwieldy, and prone to jamming and misfeeding (because they're all driven by spring pressure, and maintaining that pressure within a functional band becomes harder the longer the spring gets).

 Ashley said...

duncan cairncross said... "Suicides: Data from the "rest of the world" shows that 80% of suicide attempts end in failure and most of the people who try don't try again."

Suicide prevention was one of my core areas of expertise when I worked for the NHS, and while a lot of attempts fail, your assertion that most people don't try again lacks nuance.

People often try and again, and the chance of successfully killing themselves rises for the first five or so attempts, but after that it falls. However, the reason it falls is down to the factor driving the attempt. which is complicated and is described through diagnosis.

Zepp Jamieson said..."Object away, but I use WMD to refer to some guns in just that manner because they are weapons designed primarily to facilitate the mass killing of people."

However, if you wish to debate effectively and not be thought a fool, then you need to use language that doesn't immediately label you as a person who can't be reasoned with.

That requires acceptance that the opposing view has validity, and not being manipulative.

It's ironic, that I who has been labeled as a left wing progressive (Link, but you'll need to scroll down to the bottom of the thread to see the post I'm referring too https://tinyurl.com/wnurcn3)

Zepp Jamieson said..."We need to avoid the nomenclature imposed by the NRA and stop pretending that 50mm weapons are good for hunting squirrels and chasing off burglars."

Talk about strawman. I assume you've seen this posted somewhere? I would again like to point out that a 50 cal (not 50mm because WTF are you talking about) is a bit of a thing to lug around, and would neither make a good rodent control weapon or a home defense choice. You have no idea what you're talking about.


Zepp Jamieson said..."(snipped pointless rant)But things like the AR-15 have only one purpose, and that is to kill as many people as possible as quickly as possible, and no sane society has any need or benefit from having such loose on the streets."

No they don't. An AR-15 has many purposes, but if you absolutely want to kill every motherfucker in the room than choose an AK-47 (that's a quote, because I doubt you will get it unless I point it out.

Anyway, I shall excuse myself from any further comments, because it's clear that minds are made up.

locumranch said...


Zepp points out how new & shiny the EU railroad system is but, in typical progressive fashion, glosses over its total lack of function as the French transportation strike enters it's THIRD WEEK & effectively shuts down train travel across the EU.

This they call 'progress', the possession of a totally non-functional but ideologically pure social strategy, as in the case of Chicago's ALL PRIVATE GUN OWNERSHIP IS PROHIBITED slaughterhouse, the US Democrat Party's pro-diversity WHITES ONLY presidential primary, and California's decision to force the rapid adoption of electric vehicles despite an inadequate electrical grid.

What's next?

A all-female US military, armed with only non-lethal 'please' and 'thank yous', incapable of subduing even the typical 12 year old boy?


Best

Larry Hart said...

Ashley:

I shall excuse myself from any further comments, because it's clear that minds are made up.


You must do as you feel is right, of course*, but you're doing some of us a disservice.

* Also a quote.:)

Jon S. said...

I am curious, Illithi. You and yours apparently usually go covertly armed in public places. Why is that? Has it ever proved necessary?

I must note that my mother used to concealed-carry when she worked as treasurer for the then-small city of Bonney Lake, WA, back in the '70s, mostly because she was the one responsible for conveying the weekly cash from City Hall's coffers to the bank (a tempting target, had anyone known). Beyond that, we kept rifles for hunting and the occasional varmint issue (not that big a deal where we were - no coyotes in the area, and the cats and dogs accounted for any local rats; one of our cats used to hunt shrews for fun), and carried sidearms while hunting in case a deer or elk needed a coup de grace after being felled but not entirely killed, but the family's managed for decades in an increasingly urban and suburban environment without needing to carry any weapons aside from our own bodies. Is Virginia really that much more violent an area than Washington?

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

"dog who catches the car"

I'll have to disagree with respect to Clinton. They tried twice and investigated him essentially non-stop. I think they wanted blood. When they got him on perjury, I suspect they were doing a happy dance while they called it a solemn event.


You're correct, but that's not an argument against. I'm sure dogs do the happy dance when they catch a car too. It's the moment afterward where they go "D'Oh!"*

The Republicans in the House were happy to impeach, and considered calling more witnesses (like Monica Lewinski) during the upcoming Senate trial. Then the election happened and they lost seats instead of gaining as they had expected. At that point, the Senate Republicans were the dogs that had caught the car and had no idea what they were meant to do with it. All they wanted to do was get on with it and be done.

* BTW, I would have gone through 30 years of life before The Simpsons made "D'oh!" a thing, and for the life of me, I can't remember what expressions people used in situations that require that very reaction.

 Ashley said...

Larry Hart said..."You must do as you feel is right, of course*, but you're doing some of us a disservice."

Not my intent, more like I'm not sure I have anything further to add, because I have no skin in the game.

No offense was intended though some might have been taken.

gregory byshenk said...

I don't feel the need to argue about gun control in the USA (not my circus, and all...), but I will make comment about the discussion.

I don't think the "you used the wrong term, so are obviously too ignorant to have an opinion" method is one that will lead to long-term success.

If I'm not mistaken, recent studies indicate that gun ownership in the US is declining (not necessarily number of firearms, but number of firearms owners), and (possibly relatedly) so is the support for strong "second amendment" (those are scare quotes) arguments. Yes, that support remains a mile deep, but it seems to be getting less wide every year (or every mass shooting).

As Duncan notes above, a refusal to engage may well lead to something less desireable than what might otherwise be possible. I believe it was Massad Ayoob who pointed out, after the enactment of the "Assault Weapons Ban", that its bad aspects were at least partly the result of the complete on the part of the "gun rights" people even to engage with the issue.

Those who oppose "Assault Weapons" (yes, I know the category is a slighly strange one) laws should consider what can be done to limit firearms violence. Simply throwing up your hands and saying there is nothing that can be done is not constructive.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"Zepp points out how new & shiny the EU railroad system is but, in typical progressive fashion, glosses over its total lack of function as the French transportation strike enters it's THIRD WEEK & effectively shuts down train travel across the EU."

Mustn't have people standing up for their own rights and perogatives, must we? Better to be servile, a willing servant to the rich, with unquestioning disobedience.
Then, and only then, can the trains run on time.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"Talk about strawman. I assume you've seen this posted somewhere? I would again like to point out that a 50 cal (not 50mm because WTF are you talking about) is a bit of a thing to lug around, and would neither make a good rodent control weapon or a home defense choice. You have no idea what you're talking about."

I'm capable of formulating my own ideas, but not above committing typoes. Though I gotta say at this point you sound more like an NRA flak than a psychologist from England.

 Ashley said...

Zepp Jamieson said..."I'm capable of formulating my own ideas, but not above committing typoes. Though I gotta say at this point you sound more like an NRA flak than a psychologist from England."

OK. Here's my LinkIn profile
https://www.linkedin.com/in/ashley-r-pollard-561a7016/

Also, unlike your good self, when you click on my blogger profile you will find all the blogs I follow, and who I am, and the posts I have made. Whereas when I click on your there's nothing. One could readily come to the conclusion that you're some Bot or Troll etc.

However, I did not. I took you posts in good faith.

The ironic thing is that as a Labour voter in England I'm to the left of pretty much any Democrat voter in America.

While this discussion has been good natured, I see no change on either side of the debate that will reconcile the differences.

So, I'm out to se4e Star Wars, comments on the bounce as and when.

David Brin said...

“Long arms, rifles and shotguns, are not used in the vast majority of gun crimes.”

I agree, except that limiting re-fire and re-load rates makes a lot of sense. Clip and magazine capacity. There are no legitimate complaints about that. as I say in my militia rifle proposal, that would not reduce the ability of 1000 dads on rooftops to make a government negotiate. It WOULD help limit a solitary rooftop maniac.

Another point made in my article is that the 2nd Amendment is spectacularly weak. Someday, a different court under different pressures will pay attention to the first 9 words of the amendment and that will be that. You’ll have to join a “well-regulated militia.”

What my “Jefferson Rifle” proposal does is offer a stronger amendment protecting the JR utterly, in exchange for treating all weapons EXCEPT the JR exactly like cars.

Zepp it was perfectly reasonable for Ashley to tease over the 50mm typo. That’s TWO INCH artillery. They call it a cannon.

David Brin said...

And I think we all agree that private ownership of 50mm artillery should be illegal ;-)

Oh are some of you guys actually answering locum's jibbers. I do hope someone has the stomach to track and see if he someday takes vitamins again. But that does not require answering any of the hallucinations.

Zepp Jamieson said...

I don't mind being teased over a typo. Sometimes the typos can be pretty funny.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"Also, unlike your good self, when you click on my blogger profile you will find all the blogs I follow, and who I am, and the posts I have made. Whereas when I click on your there's nothing. One could readily come to the conclusion that you're some Bot or Troll etc."

No reason I couldn't be both, I suppose. As for online profiles, I keep mine reasonably low since I've encountered stalkers and doxxers over the years I've been on line. As for profiles on line in general, you can still find a vast trove of "background" on Luka Magnotta--who didn't actually exist, as such.

scidata said...

Dec 23, Morse, Bell Labs, and the Civil War
Weird when you find someone who brings together disparate thoughts floating around in your own mind.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuFlISa73Sw

Zepp Jamieson said...

Alfred: That's why I'm not a libertarian. If it doesn't fit in a spreadsheet, it's an "emotional response" and unworthy of consideration.

David Brin said...

"As for online profiles, I keep mine reasonably low since I've encountered stalkers and doxxers over the years I've been on line."

I've long wondered at the small number of trolls etc I get, given that I am about as in-yer-face as one can get, toward all kinds of right or left mania. I wonder if it's cause "they" suspect I have friends in places where tracing a troll's ID is utterly trivial. The first part of that supposition is true.

Zepp Jamieson said...

I've noticed they don't show up much on private blogs, aside from the spammers who show up everywhere. Part of it, of course, is that most blog software logs the IP number, making trolls easy to block and fairly easy to identify. Some blogs can even cough up a machine ID number. The problems I encountered came in the wild and woolly days of BBSes and Usenet. I usually visit respectable blogs, and moderated comment sections such as the Guardian. Life is much more tranquil that way.

Alfred Differ said...

Zepp,

"Deserve to Die" is a trollish approach around here and quite beneath you.

------

You need the gun nuts to vote for your side in 2020. Don't pretend otherwise.
Some are willing, so don't troll them.

Alfred Differ said...

Now wait just a minute! 2 inch artillery? I WANT one! Don't make it illegal!


Heh. Seriously, though, my wife would throw my stuff out on the lawn. With an autistic son in the house, I'd be a damn fool owning any firearm, cannon, or large bladed weapon.

While I'm not opposed to people owning artillery pieces, I am FOR having them register with the local fire district so first responders know to stay the heck away from their homes in case of fires, domestic violence calls, and lightning storms.

Alfred Differ said...

For the record, I'm liking Ashley. Can we keep her? Please? 8)

lacks nuance

Heh. Ouch.

Alfred Differ said...

Ilithi Dragon,

they feel themselves getting into a depressive low

It's great when they can see it coming and act to protect themselves. I'm nearing 60, though, and seen way too many who don't. It's not just the stigma and other risks. It's that we usually have the worst perspective when diagnosing our own complex mental condition. We need others who love us to have the courage to step up forcefully and stop us now and then.

It's fair to say my wife has saved my life three times now. None of the instances involved suicide, but EVERY ONE of them involved impaired mental capabilities on my part. One involved undiagnosed sleep apnea. Very little reliable REM sleep does terrible things to your ability to self-diagnose. The next involved one of those auto-immune disorders that doesn't take 20 years to kill you. (The median survival time for mine is 5 months and I was 3 months into it.) Kidney function collapse leaves one's bloodstream more and more toxic every day and THAT does terrible things to one's ability to self-diagnose. I could go on and on with non-depression related issues before finally coming around to depression itself, but the point to all of them is that reliance on self-diagnosis results in a lot of unnecessary trauma.

The issue I have with firearms isn’t the ownership of them. It’s the ease of access problem. We’ve known for a while that suicide rates go down when the methods used for the task are difficult to use in the moment. We’ve learned recently that the homicide rate follows a similar trajectory if we treat violence as a contagious disease. This approach opens the door to epidemiological techniques like early symptom detection, isolation/quarantine of related behaviors, and targeted vaccination/intervention. There are promising signs in the data from some of our large cities that suggest the combined approach works where it is tried.

Limiting gun access won’t work to reduce homicide rates much. It would make some people feel better because they can claim to be trying to do something, but when it fails over the long haul they’ll want more restrictions and tighter controls. As with prohibition, it won’t work without massive support from society… and that simply isn’t there.

We can offer gun control advocates something better, though. The science currently supports the notion that reducing ease of access helps a bit. We can give them that in exchange for a demand that they use epidemiological approaches to fix the root cause… which isn’t the guns themselves. It is the violence that must be interdicted. Give them moderately sized budgets to try this on a larger scale and demand reports and oversight. Negotiate this and it will keep them busy a while doing something that might actually work and keep them from going for another stupid round of prohibition.

Don Gisselbeck said...

The premise of the 2nd Amendment is false. A militia is not necessary for the security of a free state. (It is necessary for the security of a slave state.)

TCB said...

Don, the United States has many vestigial organs and outgrowths of a slave state, which to varying degrees still hold legal force. Among these I would include cash bail, many drug laws, chain gangs, loss of voting rights by convicts, civil forfeiture, various vagrancy and homelessness ordinances, school funding based on local property taxes... hell, I am probably forgetting a few. You can probably add the fact that escaping prison is a crime in itself (some countries no longer consider it as such, since the hunger for freedom is a basic human instinct).

David Brin said...

Alfred, while you know I am Smithian-libertarian sympathetic and my Jefferson Rifle proposal is about empowerment of citizens, as much as restricting them, nevertheless a burden of proof falls on anyone claiming that there's no correlation between America's vast ocean of firearms and our vastly huge death rate by violence.

There's another, longer term and sci-fi-ish and rather frightening aspect to all this. Those who intend to bring us down and rule over us know that they'll never pry all the guns out of caches and root cellars. Part of their long term plan must include some act of great winnowing - most likely by disease.

duncan cairncross said...

Hi Don Gisselbeck

You are 100% on the money!
Armed citizens are usually the oppressors

While we are dissing the Second Amendment

Amendment 2A
A Thieving Oligarchy, being necessary to the security of the very rich, the right of the people to keep secret their Tax Returns, shall not be infringed."


Zepp Jamieson said...

Don: Right on the money. The second amendment existed for the benefit of slave owners.
TCB: In addition to your excellent points, I would add that the make up of the Senate, and corresponding Electoral College, were specifically done to give the southern slave states disproportionate power in Washington.
Alfred: Did any of those deaths in any way protect your rights and freedoms? Any of the over 1 million Americans who have died from firearms since John Lennon enhance your civil liberties in any way?
If you find yourself experiencing an irrational but quite understandable hesitation before going in a Walmart, or a movie theatre, or feeling a bit of apprehension when your local school goes into lockdown over a vehicle backfire? Are you freer? You are not.
So please, justify this carnage. What makes it worth it in your eyes?

Zepp Jamieson said...

Duncan: another way the Second Amendment has injured our rights and freedoms is in the fact that cops are far more trigger-happy then they used to be. Over a 1,000 people died from police fire last year, and while many, probably most were justified (cops always claim they're justified, but cops often lie) many were not.

David Brin said...

You guys go WAY too far. The Founders' reasons for protecting citizens arms rights had also to do with the insurrectionary recourse that I discuss in my JR proposal. While those talking about the Recourse are often romantic fools, thinking a rabble with AR 15s can topple a state, the Bosnian war and seige of Sarajevo showed how irksome 1000 dads on rooftops can be, forcing an oppressive government to choose either negotiation or carpet bombing, with the latter rising a coup by resentful soldiers.

In the 1780s, a citizen militia was no match for pros... but often did make a crucial difference, as at Cowpens and Guilford Courthouse.

Alfred Differ said...

David,

The correlation is obvious, so I grant that. What I challenge is the causation.

Each of access to weapons also correlates with suicide and violent crime using those weapons. That's a given. What I challenge is the causation.

Consider two worlds. In one, we grant the causations in both cases. We'd expect, therefore, restrictions on ownership and each of access to reduce violent crime AND suicides. In the other, we assume the causations are mostly false or only weakly true. We'd expect, therefore, restrictions on ownership and each of access to have limited impact on violent crime and suicides using restricted weapons. We could examine both possible worlds and debate which is more likely to be real, but in this real world we have people who simply refuse to give up their weapons or accept a moral argument for doing so. We are in a situation similar to Prohibition. We know what is likely best for all of us (stop drinking the poison), but we can’t successfully legislate a solution. How we are raised with respect to firearms matters a great deal, so challenges to current practices for all sides is often perceived as an attack on our parents and our upbringing. As they say… good luck with that.

My suspicion is the real world is a bit of both. There are good reasons to accept both causations and good reasons to reject them too. Personally, I like your Jefferson Rifle idea, but I think it is DOA until the 2nd amendment falls the same kind of way the separation clause got re-interpreted by a future SCOTUS.

The reason I lump suicide and homicide deaths by gun together is they are of the same order of magnitude and likely related when we try to test causation arguments. Also, it’s damn difficult for gun advocates to defend themselves and their ownership rights when we are talking about depressed people ‘blowing their brains out.’ Their standard defenses often have an emotional component like ‘defense of family’ and ‘patriotic duty’, so connecting gun deaths by suicide flanks those defenses.

Personally, my mother didn’t want anything to do with firearms and my father grew up around them. He bought her one when he was away during the Vietnam era, but she hid it on a top shelf out of reach of everyone (including herself) as soon as he was gone. It left the house completely when he got back. As a result, I’ve fired a gun a total of five times when I was a Boy Scout and a pellet gun several times long after I was out of my mother’s reach. There IS a thrill to killing things, but also a sadness, so I’m not interested in owning any.

My libertarian friends think I’m a little nuts for not wanting to own firearms, but get that I probably shouldn’t due to my son’s diagnosis. I just point out that I own other weapons and weapon-izeable things. Besides, in an at-home setting where sight-lines are short, guns aren’t that much of an advantage. Your kid’s little league bat and your camping axe, however, are another matter. The wife’s foot-long shears are too. I can’t use those against government tyranny they say? Pfft! What a bunch of nonsense. I most certainly can, but I’d be more inclined to my chemistry and engineering books. Those are MUCH more dangerous during any realistic scenarios. 8)

David Brin said...

Pepper spray is available at any gun shop and seems an ideal choice for close quarters like in a home. It is the one readily available weapon that can incapacitate in close quarters while leaving you with the capability of sayin "Oops. Sorry" in the event of a mistake. And if it gets turned on YOU, well, you know where the baseball bat is, by touch and with your eyes closed.

Don Gisselbeck said...

Often forgotten in the gun rights debate is the level of skill required for practical shooting. It should be obvious that being born a white male, taking a 5 hour gun safety class and plinking away at a silhouette of George Soros for half an hour a week is not enough to make one an expert shootist. I have some expertise in expertise (play trombone and ski). If you are not prepared to do 50ish hours of training and spend a few thousand hours practicing, you have no business packing heat and pretending you will be able to take out an active shooter. There's an added complication even then, the element of surprise. I'm sure most of us with that training and practice, would freeze or shoot off our dicks when confronted with an assailant. What fraction of firearms assaults have been stopped by the proverbial good guy with a gun? This is what most makes me resent gun nuts. They think we should all run around armed. That means we should spend time better spent on music, the outdoors (or watching explosions on YouTube) getting ready to violently defend ourselves.

Larry Hart said...

Don Gisselbeck:

A militia is not necessary for the security of a free state. (It is necessary for the security of a slave state.)


I had actually considered pointing that out myself! If you hadn't done so, I would have made the assertion that the Second Amendment didn't apply in the south, because it particularly specifies "free" states.

David Brin said...

Good points DG. Though a compromise would be to demand at least car-driving levels of training, testing and insurance. Only one thing stands in the way, the romantics' narrative of confiscation and loss of insurrectionary recourse. My essay addresses that.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Don:

Among the various hats I wear at work (we have plenty of room for hats on subs, but not for people to wear them), one of them is Small Arms Marksmanship Instructor. My rate in general is also responsible for maintaining, providing training on, and administering not just our small arms and small arms program, but also the ship's force protection program.

A big part of my day job is training people how to shoot weapons and employ those weapons and themselves in defense a US Navy warship, both in day-to-day security and against active attack.

So understand, when I say this, I have a fair amount of personal expertise.

You do not, at all, need to be an expert marksman to effectively employ a firearm, and the numbers you put out for hours of training/practice to be useful with a firearm are absolutely BOGUS.

I have taken MANY people who have never touched a firearm before or after bootcamp, given them an hour to an hour-and-a-half classroom training (depends on class size and how many weapons are being covered), and then put them on the range for their first qualification shoot and had them pass easily. Some of them proved naturals at it and scored quite highly.


Furthermore, thirty minutes of target practice a week will actually make you an expert marksman in rather short order. You might not be a top competitive marksman, and won't be winning any awards in tri-gun competitions, but you will be able to put rounds on target reliably and with fair precision.


Being a proficient/competent shooter with firearms is not hard. That's why the phrase "God made man, but Sam Colt made men equal" exists. You don't have to spend years of your life mastering a skill like only elite nobility have time to do to use them.


As for whether or not any armed civilian would be useful in an active-shooter scenario... People aren't deer. It is not our primary base instinct to freeze like a deer caught in the headlights. Some people do freeze up, some people do freak out and panic, but by and large, the human response to crisis scenarios is much more proactive than you imply.

Look at any major traffic accident. People don't freeze and panic and freak out, screaming "What do I do? What do I do? What do I do?" People run to the scene! They pull people from burning wreckage. They make sure people are okay, and get them out of immediate hazard, start doing first aid.

There are certainly people who are cowards, who will run when they should stay and act, or who get overwhelmed by circumstance and get stuck in a panicked decision loop, but I argue that those people are fairly few.

It also doesn't take many people stepping forward to act to rally everyone else.


(continued...)

Ilithi Dragon said...

Oh, and on the subject of armed citizens preventing or stopping active shooters... Here are a few examples:
https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-san-diego-synagogue-shooting-hero-20190428-story.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/national/wp/2018/07/13/feature/in-all-reality-there-were-three-shooters-oklahomans-kill-an-active-shooter-and-its-not-as-simple-as-it-sounds/

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/man-body-armor-armed-rifle-sparks-panic-missouri-walmart-n1040676

https://www.floridatoday.com/story/news/crime/2017/12/01/black-friday-schlenker-shooting-what-we-know/911335001/

And here is an extensive list of such incidents from 2014 through late 2019:

https://crimeresearch.org/2019/05/uber-driver-in-chicago-stops-mass-public-shooting/


There are a lot of active shooting incidents that have been prevented by, or stopped in the process by armed civilians.

Many are stopped by police, rather than armed civilians, but the majority are actually stopped by the shooters themselves. I don't remember the exact percentage off the top of my head, but I have a DoD study at work that compiles data on active shooter situations. The vast majority of them are over in five minutes, and forty-something percent are over in two minutes. Most of them are stopped by the shooter committing suicide, either on his own, or when confronted by police or armed bystanders. The study didn't focus much on armed bystanders, but about 10% or so (I think it was 11 or 12%, but it's been a minute since I've reviewed the study, and I don't have a copy at home) were stopped by bystanders, both armed and unarmed.

The study is also a few years old, now, though it is still a good source of data. It's not classified in any way, so it might be available online somewhere. I'll have to see if I can dig it up.

A.F. Rey said...

You probably already know about this, but just in case...

A group called Six13 did a Star Wars Chanukah that can't be missed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRGlpowJQeM

Happy Hanukkah!

(If you liked that, try their Bohemian Rhapsody Chanukah: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9P30ckBf1wk )

(Or their Hamilton Chanukah: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWcd-K8_X34 )

(They seem to have a thing about Chanukah. :) )

duncan cairncross said...

Ilithi Dragon

The problem with the idea that "armed citizens stop crime" is

(1) When tested (with paintball guns) the "armed citizens" always LOST

(2) And more important the figures in other countries do NOT show that
If "armed citizens stop crime" then we would have MORE crime MORE murders in the countries where guns cannot be used for self defence

But instead we find LESS crime LESS murders in those countries

Ilithi Dragon said...

Duncan,

1. Having played paintball, I'm rather skeptical of the claim that one side always lost. Can you provide a source on this? I'm curious of how they went about testing the concept.

2. To clarify: I'm not saying armed citizens are The One-Size-Fits-All-Ultimate-Solution to stopping crime and murders.

I am saying that they play a role, and more specifically, was providing examples in which they do that very thing.


An armed population, or rather, the possibility that potential victims could be armed, does play a role in the prevention or reduction of violent crime. It won't completely prevent it (there will always be some crazy asshole willing to do something stupid), nor is it a foundational solution (the real solution is correcting the socio-economic issues that create crime in the first place), but it does have an effect.


The reason for this is a fundamental principle of security, revolving around the concept of deterrence. The best way to stop an attack is to deter the potential attacker from attacking in the first place.

This is because any attack ever made has a non-zero chance of succeeding, and every attack never made has an exactly zero chance of succeeding.

One of the best ways to deter an attack is to look like a hard target. Human beings are inherently lazy (not a slight against humans, all life is inherently lazy, for good evolutionary reasons). If we want to attack something, but the target looks like a hard target, where the risk and consequences of failure are greater than the chance and rewards of success, we will look for another target, delay attacking, or not attack at all. This doesn't stop all attacks, because eventually someone will come along who is stupid or desperate enough to try anyway, but it goes a long way.

In fact, you don't even have to actually BE a hard target to deter attacks. Just the PERCEPTION of being a hard target does the job just as well, most of the time.


This is why I don't agree with most places being gun-free zones without substantial armed security - because they make themselves a soft target. There have been multiple pre-planned shooting sprees that specifically selected places that didn't allow firearms, and this is one of the reasons why schools are such a frequent target (though personal issues and sensationalism are probably the biggest drivers there).


The US crime rate is higher than most other developed nations, but not THAT MUCH higher, especially when you compare the TOTAL crime rate and murder rate, rather than just gun crimes.

But, as we've already talked about, those correlate to a less-stable socio-economic situation in the US, which is the well-documented primary driver of crime and social strife, and not to the vastly greater availability of firearms. Given how much more available firearms in the US are compared to most European nations, it does not match the smaller disparity in our crime rate vs Europe.

Additionally, as was also noted earlier, the gun ownership rates in Canada are actually often higher than in the US, but their crime rate is much lower.

duncan cairncross said...

Ilithi Dragon

When comparing crime rates it's best to stick to homicide - everything else varies so much

Here if I shout at you and wave my stick in the air that is "violent assault" - in the USA I need to do actual damage to you with the stick
So we have more "violent assaults" than you do

So the best comparison is Homicide - deaths per 100,000 people
NZ - 0.7
USA - 5.3
SEVEN TIMES as bad
That was 2017 figures -
When the 2019 figures come out we are going to be more than twice as bad - ONE nutter killed more people than our annual murder rate
With an "assault weapon" - which is why we have now made them illegal


Your point about people being armed is a good one - but you draw the wrong conclusion
If my target may be armed the sensible thing to do is to shoot him and rob his corpse

The paintball example
I will try and find the article

It was at a university - the setup was that the people in the lecture hall knew that there was a possible attack and a couple of them were "armed"

The "attacker" did not know who was armed and were just told to shoot as many as they could

The results were simple the attacker shot people and if the armed defenders made any moves they got shot first

They tried this repeatedly - with the defenders being people with gun experience and people without

The result was the same each time

duncan cairncross said...

Ilithi Dragon

Canada has as many guns as the USA
And I suspect that NZ has nearly as many -
there are Lots of hunters and wild pig is delicious
We even have "Easter Bunny Hunts" - competing to see how many we can bring in

The difference is that guns can be owned for hunting or target shooting - but NOT "Self Defence"
And the gun must be looked after - properly locked up when not being used

It's not the guns - it's the way you treat them

Don Gisselbeck said...

Surprise beats skill.

 Ashley said...

duncan cairncross said..."But instead we find LESS crime LESS murders in those countries."

However, Britain has seen an increase in murders and attempted murders over the last ear, which points to confounding variables when comparing cultures.

The driver for crime is strongly correlated with the Gini coefficient, which posits that relative poverty between those who have versus who have less. Here's a link to controversial opinion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3XYHPAwBzE&list=PLAM3lWHaq5H15Rk3fJmwk6JMYX5bXZug8&index=20&t=0s


TCB said...

I've heard that a good home defense weapon is not pepper spray but... BEAR SPRAY. As in, it's strong, plentiful, has range, and can render an entire room full of home intruders temporarily helpless. Eight ounce can, thirty foot range, dear god.

One rating says: "Very nice. A friend from russia told me that he bought thesame, He assidently sprayed himselff, it burned his skin, even the hair on his leg was gone after he washed the aria. He also said that he is sure no bear will give him a problem, but it would be dangerous if used of a person most likely will requre hospitalization." (SIC)

Zepp Jamieson said...

"Britain has seen an increase in murders and attempted murders over the last ear, which points to confounding variables when comparing cultures."

That just means if you make your data set small enough, it can say anything you want it to say.

Don Gisselbeck said...

I hesitate to question Ilithi's expertise, but 30min a week seems awfully low to maintain competence (an hour a day isn't enough for trombone playing). A former NRA firearms instructor friend agrees with me. Have you done the paintball test with your students? The list of successful "good guy" incidents seems awfully short given the hundreds of "bad guy" incidents we have each year. How often does the "good guy" lose?

Larry Hart said...

@A.F. Rey,

Thanks for the Chaunkah Hamilton link!

@Alfred Differ,

On customary use of presidential powers, one that comes to mind now is the pardon power. By the text, that power is absolute, but it was understood that it was to be used wisely. I don't believe any pre-Trump president used the power to shield his supporters (the Navy guy, Sheriff Arpaio) or to suborn lawbreaking on his personal behalf. I suspect that if democracy survives Trump, that power will be reigned in, which while understandable will be a case of a good thing having been ruined for everybody.

locumranch said...


Gun control is a reasonable & rational position.

Unfortunately, reason is NOT a viable option as long as one identity group identifies another identity group as DEPLORABLE & targets them for direct, indirect or demographic extinction.

As illustrated by the fate of 6+ million jews & poles, 20+ million purge-era soviets, 45+ million leaping-without-looking chinese and +2 million fact-using cambodians, murderous progressives like Hitler, Stalin, Mao & Pol Pot much prefer the unarmed & defenceless population that certain overly optimistic liberals feel determined to provide.

But, if you're determined to give up your guns & volunteer yourselves as easily victimised prey, feel free to do so, remembering that certain identity groups are predestined to die for the Greater Good, to be sacrificed upon the environmental altar of Climate Change & whatnot, so it may as well be you & your loved ones instead of me & mine.

For, it is a far, far better thing that you goodhearted losers do, than you have ever done, and it is a far, far better rest that you go to than you have ever known. Plus your premature passing will leave more resources for the rest of us.

So, be reassured & of good cheer, and know that those of us who choose to live on will value your noble personal sacrifices BRIEFLY, just before we eat your lunch.


Best

 Ashley said...

Wow the hyperbole in this thread just gets better and better. Seriously guy, how about ratcheting it down a notch?

Zepp Jamieson said..."That just means if you make your data set small enough, it can say anything you want it to say."

Not sure if you wanted this to be so dismissive or it was attempt at a sense of humour?

The discussion on this thread is pretty much everyone talking past each other. One using experience and fact to support their points, the other using emotions. Then both side take a point they want to bang on about and use rhetorical tricks to enforce their point.

This a lose-lose scenario.

I'm pretty sure that most of you have seen debates like this go on across the net, and the behaviours exhibited here only radicalizes movement towards a more extreme position.

I suggest that this doesn't work, because AFAIK this debate has been going on since the 1980s and there appears to be no solution in sight that is equitable and fair.

So on that note, Merry Christmas to one and all.

Larry Hart said...

I'm also most likely "gone" from "here" until at least later on Christmas Day. So best Christmas and other appropriate holiday wishes to all. God bless us every one, even the atheists, and to all a good night.

Ilithi Dragon said...

@Duncan:

A couple quick clarifications (I've got some errands to run, more later):

1. Under US Federal Law, "presenting a threat of imminent death or serious bodily harm" constitutes assault. You do not need to cause someone physical trauma, or even touch them at all, to assault them.

Federal law does not have any special designation for "violent assault" - just assault, aggravated assault (has to do with circumstances), and assault with a deadly weapon (a broadly defined term).

If I shout and wave my stick in the air at someone in the US, I can also be charged with Assault (I suspect a lot of these legal definitions are pretty comparable across most Western nations, particularly those who share British legal ancestry, like both of ours do).

So while we have 7.5 times the rate of assault that you do, there is no extra inflation or masking of the actual difference based on legal definitions of Assault.



Also, it is important to clarify, that I am not saying that armed civilians will stop all crime, nor even be a primary driver and core solution to crime prevention.

What I am saying is that they DO have a noteworthy impact on stopping Active Shooter Scenarios. About ten percent or so. I also argue that the perception of a victim being armed DOES have an impact in preventing crime, because that is a well-established security principle. Collecting data on THAT is a lot harder, because the majority of them go undocumented (such as when my brother-in-law used to work at a restaurant in Vegas, walked out of work after closing late at night, into the mostly-empty, poorly-lit employee parking lot where employees had a history of being mugged. Guy in a hood came out of the shadows towards him, and he lifted his jacket, showing the handgun on his hip, and the guy held up his hands, backed off, and disappeared), and it's inherently difficult to collect data on something that MIGHT have happened, but DIDN'T, and why.


The larger point I'm trying to make is to counter the perception of "There is no good guy with a gun" or that "good guys with guns are ineffective/don't do anything/only cause more harm."

That is not true.

Even with the paintball example, I argue that that is a faulty or inadequate test, because I have already provided numerous examples where the results of that test were proven false by REAL PEOPLE, responding to REAL INCIDENTS.


Anyway, this is already running longer than I intended. I need to go get groceries!

David Brin said...

Ashley, do not feel you must responde to or take seriously or even take notice of Locumranch. He lives for one thing, to mold a strawman that bears no resemblance to anything that anyone else here has said or believed, and then scream at it. When he accuses us of wanting to genocide our opponents, that is simply the way he would treat us, if he could. He cannot conceive that anyone would do otherwise.

Ilithi Dragon is right. A sober-minded adult can learn basic parameters of rifle use with just a few hours training and some practice/refreshers. A rifle is a vastly simpler machine than an automobile and the parameters of use are almost comically or cosmically simpler. LEe Harvey Oswald could barely drive but got top "expert" ratings as a Marine. (And yes, while there MAY have been more to the story, making Jack Ruby silence him, I am 98% certain he was either THE shooter or one of them. Cripes.)

Guns and cars kill roughly similar numbers, each year. But cars are used daily by millions of times as many users and hours, aiming deadly machines expertly to JUST BARELY MISS each other, a stunning accomplishment that merits respect and emulation. If the DMV became the DMV&G, you and I could modify the vehicle code with markers and postits and within ONE day we'd have a workable system of training, multi-level licensing, safety and insurance in place. There is ONLY one excuse not to do that almost overnight, and that is the raving fantasy about confiscation and loss of insurrectionary recourse.

And I am willing to render unto such paranoid fantasies a reasonable concession-gift to assuage them.

As for shooters stopped by armed citizens, it happens so rarely that until a few years ago, I won bets defying anyone to come up with a single example.

Now there are some. Goody. BFD. Almost all such shootings... well, a majority... are stymied by brave UNARMED civilians.

Arm every adult with pepper spray? And a laser pointer for sniper resistance till drones with more powerful dazle lasers arrive on the scene. Thing about those arms is that they are more portable... and you can say "oops, sorry."

Zepp Jamieson said...

Neither dismissive nor jokingly; it's a mere statement of fact. A change in such stats over the course of just one year is statistically meaningless. I could note that the 2,600 murders in Chicago this year is actually down 10% from last year (and incredibly, it is), but that does not mean the problem in Chicago is resolving in any way. Tell me five years and a 30% drop, and that would be enough to identify as a trend.

David Brin said...

And you can carry a pepper spray and laser pointer (a strong green laser) NOW, today. And upset no one, cause no fear in anyone.

 Ashley said...

Thank you David. Still learning the ropes.

Here's an interesting link on homicide rate in the USA:

https://medium.com/handwaving-freakoutery/geographic-evidence-that-gun-deaths-are-cultural-277cb90fa06d

Of course you may have seen it.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"Unfortunately, reason is NOT a viable option as long as one identity group identifies another identity group as DEPLORABLE & targets them for direct, indirect or demographic extinction."

That's where you Trumpkins always miss the boat. You assume everyone else is as vile as yourselves.

There are some Trumpkins who deserve a good spanking, perhaps, but genocide seems a bit over the top. You wouldn't believe the paperwork involved. Best to let Trumpkins stew in knowledge of their own foolishness, or pretend they never heard of Trump.

David Brin said...

Zepp, please. Don't bother.

duncan cairncross said...

"And you can carry a pepper spray and laser pointer (a strong green laser) NOW, today. And upset no one, cause no fear in anyone."

If you do that in the UK or NZ you will be arrested and changed with going armed

There is no such thing as a "defensive weapon" - they are all "offensive" and if they can be carried then the crims will use them to assault people
and we don't have any Bears handy to make Bear Spray something that you can legitimately carry

locumranch said...


Don't let these morons gaslight you, Ashley:

In their crusade against human imperfection, the western progressive intends to carry its dicta against all acts of aggression – even disagreement – to its logical conclusion:

The voluntary extinction of fallible human beings.

And, thusly, they misconstrue my cautions as proof of my supposed 'vileness', a falsification necessary to invalidate reasonable criticisms of their pollyannaish belief systems.

So, dig this & dig it well:

One man's utopia is another man's hell and, most assuredly, their progressive utopia seems like hell to many.

For, if first we ban life-saving guns because of 'lives lost', do we then ban the life-saving fruits of modernity -- automobiles, airplanes, food, surgery & medicines -- because of the potentiality of accidents, plane crashes, obesity, surgical infections or side effects?

This progressive insanity must end.


Best

Zepp Jamieson said...

OK, Doctor, my Solstice gift to you: I'll ignore him for a few weeks.

A.F. Rey said...

And with a hat tip to P.Z. Myers, something else you might enjoy: The League of Disappointing Authors!

http://amultiverse.com/comic/2019/12/23/jk-rowling-and-the-league-of-disappointing-authors/

Guess who greets J. K. Rowling into their ranks? ;)

A happy Christmas to all!

scidata said...

Two gripes about OSC. First, I lost the argument with my son's teacher about how "Foundation" would be much better subject matter than Ender. Second, his fans appropriated Le Guin's Ansible. Unforgivable.

Peace on Earth

David Brin said...

AFR... woof! Not sure I like the imagery of Rowling dragged by hooded thugs. Nor was a muttered tweet wondering about the latest forward edge quite the same as Card's lifelong jihad against the Enlightenment at all levels - a central and deliberate philosophical fixation. Still good to see.

David Brin said...

Actually, as Isaac's chief "channeler" I have to say that Foundation is about as fatalistic about sapient, democratic human civilization as Card's works.

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson responding to can guess who:

"Unfortunately, reason is NOT a viable option as long as one identity group identifies another identity group as DEPLORABLE & targets them for direct, indirect or demographic extinction."

That's where you Trumpkins always miss the boat. You assume everyone else is as vile as yourselves.


Well, Trumpkins certainly do make it clear that they consider white supremacy to be their God-given right, and that therefore the assertion that "all men are created equal" is a violation of their rights to be superior. No different morally from enslaving them. And that the mere statement of fact that their identity group will soon be a demographic minority is equivalent to "targeting them for extinction."

No doubt, the sighting of a meteor 65 million years ago was "targeting dinosaurs for extinction".

Sheesh.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Foundation is about as fatalistic about sapient, democratic human civilization as Card's works.

Not the Original Trilogy.

Your statement more accurately describes include the "Foundation Saga". Which I'm very tempted to say is a different thing, in fact...

As a fan of both yourself and Asimov, it pains me to say this, but in my personal opinion (take as you will) the attempt to force the Robot novels and the Foundation novels to coexist in the same timeline lessened both series.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Larry: I read today that Stephen Miller, Trump's white nationalist gurtu, was bemoaning the fact that we didn't honour Calvin Coolidge more. An avid fan of eugenics, he established a policy of keeping 'undesirable genetically inferior people" out of America. This policy was in effect in the 1930s, when a lot of these 'undesirables' very desperately needed to get out of Europe.
I'm pretty sure we'll eventually end up fighting Nazis again. Only this time, they'll be the home-grown variety.

Jon S. said...

Doctor, that was more than "a muttered tweet wondering about the latest forward edge" - Rowling was supporting the cause of a woman who had continued to push the envelope of what she could publicly say about her hatred of trans people (transphobia isn't right - she wasn't afraid of them, she just hated them), and whose contract working for a liberal think-tank in Britain was therefore not renewed after it ended.

She apparently also has a history of approvingly retweeting transphobic tweets from people like Graham Linehan (I can't testify as to this last part - I don't follow Rowling, but it's what I've heard from people who do). So this isn't a one-time "muttering", but seemingly a long-standing position.

My take? There was a gag on Twitter, about a millennial at a bar complaining about Rowling, only to be interrupted by a Gen-X slamming his beer glass on the counter and shouting, "LET ME TELL YOU HOW MUCH I LOVED 'ENDER'S GAME' WHEN I WAS THIRTEEN, OKAY?!?"

I added, "Boomer down the bar: I remember when we used to trust Marion Zimmer Bradley..."

David Brin said...

LarryHart: "As a fan of both yourself and Asimov, it pains me to say this, but in my personal opinion (take as you will) the attempt to force the Robot novels and the Foundation novels to coexist in the same timeline lessened both series."

Around 1970 I think? Many of us were incensed when Asimov did this. It made no sense. 1990s humanity could build robots buta 250000 years Galactic Empire could not?.

Isaac struggle mightily to make sense arise out of this self-indulgence positing it as "necessary" for the servants to be few and all-knowing and mighty while the "masters" are helpless, ignorant and cheap as sand in a desert.It was clear that there had to be a deadly danger... Bear and I called it "Chaos" that strikes any human world when they get too bold and smart (smart enough coicncidentally to make robots) - panic attacks that are dangerous enough to justify Daneel and Giskard over-ruling human sovereignty with their ZEROTH LAW.

But essentially that's just not true. (Though we are experiencing right now a sociological panic attack among a third of our fellow citizens that does seem to square with Isaac's worry.) Hence, we assume that the humans of Asimov's universe suffered an altering plague, one that started with claustrophobia, sending Earthliongs diving under CAVES OF STEEL.

Got it? It all rounded out nicely, I thought. So did Janet Asimov.


David Brin said...

Jon S. I should keep my trap shut at times. I know nothing whatsoever about Rowling ... except maybe her generosity to charities and support for a generous liberal society might earn her more points than the Harry Potter stuff. Card's sin, in my book, is not neing a grouch troglodyte outside his novels. It is the brilliantly gifted and evil ways that he uses moralizing guilt trips in his books to propagandize against confidence, citizenship, progress and the very idea of democracy.

Yes Rowling does that too, by writing off Muggle awareness of the wizarding world. But I doubt she ever thought it through.

Card has. Oh, has he.

scidata said...

It's fun to play mind experiments around potential meetings that never happened. I once mused about one such chance meeting between Feynman, Asimov, Pohl, and several others in a Brooklyn deli circa 1960 (lost it years ago). Another that I've since pondered is Asimov, Brin, Wolfram, and myself (!). Computational psychohistory would have received a huge boost. Heck, even Asimov and Brin discussing BASIC in the 80s would have been great (Asimov did some Tandy ads and predicted the internet way better than Al Gore).

TCB said...

I'll say a couple of things about J.K. Rowling.
1.) She made a billion dollars without shafting a single person that I know of. Nobody HAD to buy her books if they didn't feel like it. This is so improbable that I am not sure I can think of another person who did it. Most billionaires hurt many, MANY people to get there. (Wozniak, for instance, seems to have made his money gently for his own part, BUT he partnered with the sociopath Steve Jobs, so he doesn't make my cut.)

2.) She gave away enough of it to fall off the billionaire list rather rapidly. Lots of billionaires have charities that somehow don't seem to actually cost them anything. Tax shelter jiggery-pokery, vanity projects, self-serving "non-profits" that actually exist to further the Great Philanthropist's oligarchical agenda: this is a fair description of so much high-wealth philanthropy. (If Bill Gates is so awesome, how come he says he might vote for Trump rather than someone who might raise his taxes? Not a Bill fan, no. Not me. Ironically, I have been told I look uncannily like him. Heh.)

It's my view that billionaire philanthropists do nothing for the world that would not be done sooner and better, in a more egalitarian society, by collaborative effort in response to popular demand. Nevertheless, JKR is, from what I can tell, incomparably better than almost all the rest in that income bracket. Is JKR perfect? No. Nobody else is, either.

David Brin said...

JKR also did fine propaganda by willingly paying taxes to a society that had helped her, when she needed it. It's as a person that she deserves cred.

I prefer Eliezer Yudkowsky's version of Harry Potter. Still, my biggest complaint is about the final battle at Hogwarts, where the people of Magical Britain confirm their already abysmal moral standing, when the defenders of the school get no help from THE STUDENT' PARENTS. It would have cost the book/film makers nothing to have had a stirring minute when all seems lost and a ragtag army of parents and friends and decent magicals shows up, temporarily rocking Voldie back and giving Harry time to... whatever. Likewise, then having the British Army and neighboring farmers try to help, too.

Same thing with Avengers: End Game! It needn't even change the plot a bit. Just make the villain's army BIGGER so all the new allies still leave the god-protgonist to make all the difference.

For all his faults, Michael Bay does this in the Transformers flicks. Right on.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Got it? It all rounded out nicely, I thought. So did Janet Asimov.


First of all, don't take my comments as criticism of your contribution to the series. You did what you attempted very well. I just wish the series hadn't gone in the directions they did long before your piece came into it.

I appreciate that Asimov, and then the Three B's, managed to come up with an overall arching backstory that managed to make the Robot and Foundation series internally consistent with each other. The thing is, I didn't need them to be internally consistent with each other. I liked characterizations of each series for what they were, and I felt that each series gave up some of what I liked about them in service to combining them. I'd have rather they were left alone.

It's much the same as my feelings about Star Wars. The original was one of my favorite movies in 1977, but the subsequent plots were forced to be about making sense of Luke's (and then Leia's) parentage, and I really didn't care how well they managed to squeeze the square peg into the round hole. I would have preferred that they had just left the original movie to stand on its own.

Now, I realize that you are more in tune with the times than I am. Even in comics, no one does just plain straight Superman stories, or Batman stories, or Spider-Man stories any more. It's all about re-imagining the entire mythology of the series and explaining why everything you previously thought you knew is wrong. It's one reason I've finally (at almost age 60) stopped being interested in new comics.

I'm not trying to insist that you care about my personal tastes. Just explaining.

Larry Hart said...

scidata:

It's fun to play mind experiments around potential meetings that never happened.


I love that throwaway opening on the Star Trek TNG holodeck where Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, and Steven Hawking (played by himself) played poker with Data.

scidata said...

@Dr. Brin
As a fan of both yourself and Asimov, it pains me to say this, but in my personal opinion (take as you will) the metric of 'how human' AI is is mistaken. Asimov's Robbie and your uplifted tiktoks slightly miss the mark. The power and impact of AI results more from how 'unhuman' it is. I used to think it was the solder fumes getting to me, but I've come to realize there's a bit more to it. AI and SETI are not as unrelated as one might think.

@Larry Hart
I'm not mocking you, I just like the way you phrase things. Reminds me of some Chicago friends I've lost contact with. Dr. Brin is a great writer, but I can't really use that stuff. I've been looking for a non-artificial way to use 'ersatz' in a sentence for a long time. Wow, perhaps I just managed to.

David Brin said...

Good stuff LH and scidata... and warmth to you all. And healing for those who seek it.

And a great year for our enlightenment.

TCB said...

I've been looking for a non-ersatz way to use 'ersatz' in a sentence for a long time.

Noise said...

I realize that this is a bit off topic and that it may have already been discussed, but we watched the Netflix cartoon “Klaus” yesterday. Has anyone else seen it and does the plot seem a little familiar?

Zepp Jamieson said...

I saw Klaus and thoroughly enjoyed it. The plot was familiar, but that's the case with most western animation. The details, and the wit informing them, was lovely.

Watched the FX/BBC version of "A Christmas Carol" yesterday. A lot of people are going to hate it because it's not family-friendly, and the redemptive qualities are a bit subtle, but it's an absolutely magnificent work of writing and direction.

Noise said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Noise said...

I mean that it seemed VERY similar to The Postman.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Hmm. Yeah, there were a fair number of elements in common. Doctor, have you seen it? What do you think?

David Brin said...

Watched the preview. It seemed clever. And yes, it's likely that the writers of of the Netflix Christmas special "KLaus" were at least familiar with The Postman. Or inspired by it. I give 60%. But in this case what's to be done? Just hope it's true and be slightly flattered. Unlike "Deat Stranding" which appears to have taken whole stretches of dialogue.

(I do like their solution to the "radio problem." Why isolated regions can't just hop on the shortwave. Like in the show DEFIANCE where they assume the middle atsmosphere has so many tornadoes it's impossible to fly.)

Zepp Jamieson said...

Yeah, it's a matter of similar plot concepts. Nothing you would feel wronged by. One major difference: the rest of the world isn't in ruins. The societal collapse is on one very remote northern island, and has been such for some 300 years. And yes, it is clever.
I always wondered why, then they did that odd movie version of Heinlein's Starship Troopers why the Kornbluth estate never demanded credit for about a quarter of the dialogue in that movie. Likewise the first "Robocop".

TCB said...

The 2007 science fiction movie Sunshine is about a space mission to bomb the sun and get fusion restarted. Nobody else seems to remember this, but there was a super-obscure short story decades ago with same basic premise. I even remember the hero's name was Rodis and the girl he left behind on Earth was named Pilar. Nevertheless, I get no google results. But it existed, I solemnly swear it.

David Brin said...

THE CORE stole about 1/3 from Paul Preuss's CORE and maybe 20% from EARTH and the rest was... woof.

scidata said...

I'm a huge Stanley Tucci fan, but his performance in "The Core" should have got him kicked out of SAG-AFTRA. Maybe his agent got him planted in that implosion, and he was just going through the motions. Sad. Bigly Sad. It made his acting in "Hunger Games" look Olivier-esque.

David Brin said...

Yknow who always impressed me? David Strathairn. His Edward R. Murrow and Robert Oppenheimer were amazing. But on The Expanse he is simply incredible.

scidata said...

Living in Toronto, I have an interest in The Expanse and Star Trek: Discovery. When Apple TV chose Jared Harris to play Hari Seldon, I hoped they might grab one or two others from The Expanse, including Strathairn. I hope Harris reads "Foundation's Triumph" to get a wider perspective on Seldon. Films portraying only brilliant mathematicians are tough slogging.

TCB said...

David Strathairn is in the two most recent seasons of The Expanse, as an old Belter space pirate gone into politics, and I was talking his performance up to a friend earlier this evening. He is WONDERFUL in that part. In the books his character Klaes Ashford is a standard villain, but in the show he is a lot more sympathetic.

Here's where we first meet Klaes Ashford...

WilliamG said...

Started out about the moon and went quickly to guns. Seems like a good place for Heinlein's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress". The Moon is at the top of the hill and you could throw some pretty big rocks from there! Might be a good reason for us to go back first - just to keep an eye on all the Russians and Chinese who will be showing up.

In the meantime, while we're there, we could figure out how best to shield hard radiation and live in reduced gravity - Scott Kelly didn't seem to be doing so well when he got back from the ISS. We owe it to our future Mars explorers - who would no doubt volunteer regardless - to figure these things out.

scidata said...

Re: Moon

This is why you have and value allies. Canada is a rich, advanced, and extremely US-friendly nation. We'd be honoured to extend the North American shield, that we've cooperated on since 1957, to the moon. Not every goddam thing comes down to an infantile transactional bobble like in a brain-wormed real estate grifter's mind.

NASA/SpaceX/etc could then focus on planets and asteroids.

Zepp Jamieson said...

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2019/12/betelgeuse-is-acting-strange-astronomers-are-buzzing-about-supernova/

Once in a thousand year spectacle: Betelgeuse may be getting ready to blow, creating a supernova as bright as a full Moon.

David Brin said...

Betelgeuse at 600 LY is way too close. There'd be problems.

If we and the Japanes developed asteroids (which no one else can do), I think our worries about Chinese moon rocks will amount to trying hard to repress an indulgent grin and murmering "how cute."

Oh and ours will be the orbital transfer station above the moon. Kinda the place to keep an eye on things.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Do we have any way of determining the amount of gamma and UV we might get if it goes nova? Full moon brightness from a radiant object would be enough to push our temperatures up a bit, if only for a few weeks, but that could cause plenty of disruption. What else?

scidata said...

"What else"

Mass hysteria driven by a deplorable lack of scientific literacy. Citizen science could save lives. It's not just trekky candy.

Zepp Jamieson said...

There you go! We could sell "Betelgeuse Bumbershoots" -- umbrellas that will protect you from the death rays from that red sun! Only $119.99 each (more in Canada because Canadians have more money).

scidata said...

The Canadian price could also end in .98 because we round to the nearest nickel. "Betelgeuse Brollie" might be more applicable here. Bumbershoot is an American tell.

Larry Hart said...

scidata:

Bumbershoot is an American tell.


More like a British tell. I'd have gone my whole American life without hearing the word "bumbershoot" if not for the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and The Penguin on the Batman tv show.

Zepp Jamieson said...

It's English, although I've never heard a Brit say "bumbershoot" unironically. Supposedly it's a neologm, a mix of "umbrella" and "parachute" and god knows why they tacked a "b" on the end. It may be a cockney thing.

Jon S. said...

I heard of it first because of Seattle's annual Bumbershoot Festival, a three-day music fest and street fair. (It's called that because in early September, when it takes place, it usually rains as well.)

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Supposedly it's a neologm, a mix of "umbrella" and "parachute"


Parachutes weren't a thing until the mid 20th century, right? So does that make "bumbershoot" a relatively young word too? I wouldn't have guessed that.

David Brin said...

Oy. Just rented AD ASTRA at last... and so glad it cost us 59 cents at Redbox. All right, I get it. It's Apocalypse Now/Heart of Darkness, of course, with homages to 2001: A Space Odyssey, GRAVITY, Space Cowboys, Ice Pirates, Captain Nemo in Mysterious Island, Luke on Dagoba and Rey on Jedi-Planet... and... well... Tarkovsky films. Very Russian. Tarkovsky doing Heart of Darkness in deep space...

...without feeling any need to seek technical or astronomical or even logical advice from anyone. At all. For any of it. In any scene. At all.
You gotta kinda respect such chutzpah.

No doubt most of you have favorite groaners. But I'll pick one nit. If it takes 19 days to get to Mars, then you have a drive like in The Expanse that can give high acceleration continuously along the entire trip. All the more so, if you are going to Neptune in months instead of many years. Okay, I can posit that kind of drive being discovered, in The Expanse. Future wonder tech, fine. But if that's the case, then you are not weightless in the cabin. There's up and down, all the way to see Dad.

I mean it about every scene. Half of them, a good sci fi author/sceintist could have suggested a plausible excuse to have the same scene! Or almost the same, certainly the same vividness and action. And have it make sense... well, less nonsense. (I was tech adviser on a number of projects, including ASCENSION, so I know how to do that. And hence, having almost EVERY scene be this way was a deliberate choice. An upthrust middle finger at science and nerds and the cruel taskmaster of realism.

My wife had a fun thought... (slight spoiler)... when the helpers arrive to open the hatch and offer him a hand out... they shoulda been baboons. Why the heck not?

https://www.vox.com/culture/2019/9/19/20872495/ad-astra-review-brad-pitt-god-tracy-k-smith

David Brin said...

Oh and Ad Astra means "to the stars." Don't get your hopes up.

Zepp Jamieson said...

According to a "Inventions of Leonardo Da Vinci website, "Though credit for the invention of the first practical parachute usually goes to Sebastien Lenormand in 1783, Leonardo da Vinci actually conceived the parachute idea a few hundred years earlier." According to Wikipedia, "The modern parachute was invented in the late 18th century by Louis-Sébastien Lenormand in France, who made the first recorded public jump in 1783. Lenormand also sketched his device beforehand.Two years later, in 1785, Lenormand coined the word "parachute" by hybridizing an Italian prefix para, an imperative form of parare = to avert, defend, resist, guard, shield or shroud, from paro = to parry, and chute, the French word for fall, to describe the aeronautical device's real function."
So now we both now know far more about the history of the parachute than either of us really needed. But it gave the name "bumbershoot" lots of time to germinate in fevered British brows.

duncan cairncross said...

This was an interesting study about "Zero Sum Thinking"

The only problem is it made some base assumptions that are simply WRONG

All of the economic questions - that supposedly exposed "zero sum thinking" among liberals were about moving money to the already well off which has a slowing effect on the economy

As such the expectation that such a process would be "Zero Sum" is a reflection of reality and not of the liberal mindset!

duncan cairncross said...

Forgot the bloody link
https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/5/12/eaay3761?utm_campaign=toc_advances_2019-12-20&et_rid=309215175&et_cid=3133457

Sorry

Tony Fisk said...

I am now recalling an old video game that featured bumbershooting lemmings... oh no!

Tony Fisk said...

I had thought Betelgeuse was a bit faint but had put it down to haze. Seems it really is a good deal dimmer than it usually gets, but isn't likely to go supernova just yet. Still, I'd like to know which way it's going and whether it will be closer or further away in 100,000 years.

Since we're still in a post about expanding horizons, and doubtless contemplating expanding waistlines post-christmas, may I present you with a way of unboiling eggs? Specifically, egg whites, and other useful things

scidata said...

This is why we need Ansible beacons spread by fast robot probes. Sitting on a lonely, remote island at the edge of the galaxy is frustrating. We can only look skyward and helplessly wait for whatever washes ashore. A larger vista would also reveal pompous local demagogues for what they are. I imagine that European soothsayers suffered a huge decline once ships started sailing to and from the New World.

Jon S. said...

"I imagine that European soothsayers suffered a huge decline once ships started sailing to and from the New World."

Really? Why would you imagine that?

Alfred Differ said...

My Seattle in-laws say bumbershoot is another (older?) way of saying umbrella. Also... when does it NOT rain there? 😎

Alfred Differ said...

Radial velocity for Betelgeuse is near +22 km/s. Moving away, but it won’t get far before it goes bang.

TCB said...

Since nobody else has said it yet...

Betelgeuse. Betelgeuse. BETELGEUSE!

David Brin said...

"Still, I'd like to know which way it's going and whether it will be closer or further away in 100,000 years."

Planning a viewing spot Tony? You got hopes.

Seriously, hope you Oz-ers survive the summer.

Tony Fisk said...

The moot point will be whether "Scotty from Marketing" will survive the summer.

Melbourne has escaped the worst of it, although we've had smoke haze from Sydney (over 1000km away!). Tomorrow's going to be 43, which would be considered a scorcher in February.

To higher matters: receding at 22km/s would put an additional ... 6-7 light years between us and Betelgeuse when it goes in 100,000 years.
Except TCB's gone and done it, when his invocation gets there in 6-700 years...

scidata said...

I don't think I can handle any more videos of Koalas in shock staggering up to people in hopes of getting some water. Heartbreaking.

David Brin said...

onward

onward

inamulhaq1122 said...


Posthumanism is a philosophical perspective of how change is enacted in the world.
As a conceptualization and historicization of both agency and the “human,”
it is different from those conceived through humanism.
and what is the futuer of research in humanisim, and we explain different tools and
applications, and we are comparision of different appliocations,