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Happenings

While I’m heartened by the victory in the 9th circuit, I fear it might be short lived. Trump has very nearly flipped the balance, but nearly isn’t flipped, and I’d say an en banc review will be difficult. The Duncan case might be a good setup for taking a case into the Supreme Court if there’s a change, and I think before too long there will be a change.

But who knows what will happen next year. Will there even be an NRA? I’d like to think a judge is going to scoff at politicians dissolving their political opposition, but get the wrong judge, and the worst could happen. Either way, I’m not sure how useful the NRA will be as long as it’s a cash cow for Bill Brewer’s law firm, which I’m sorry to say looks worse to me than NRA being a cash cow for Ackerman-McQueen.

One reason I’m not blogging as much is because who the hell knows anything? I feel like anyone who claims to know where this is all going is selling you something. I still believe we’re going through a political realignment, sure, but what new order is being born? Can’t tell you. The global trend is a populist backlash against globalism, but the wealthy have a habit of getting what they want. All I can tell you is that no one is happy with the old order, except the people who benefit from it.

I’m focusing on a new job, which has more challenges than I’ve faced in past work. They are actually a pretty competent outfit, compared to other places I’ve been, which means their problems are harder. Still, I’m surprised by how fast even good outfits grow their technical debt.

Being a club officer is also becoming a part-time job I don’t get paid for, and that shit is getting old fast. We’re going through tumultuous times, just as the country is, as problems that were mounting for years are now being addressed for good or ill. That costs time, money, and energy. Also, working in the technology sector, where people either adapt to change or wash out of the industry, I did not have an appreciation for how dispositionally conservative most people are. I don’t mean politically conservative, I mean it in the sense of distrusting and disliking change. I think that becomes more true the older people get. On a daily basis, the thing I struggle the most with is: “We’ve done it this way for 30 years. Why change it?”

Not my circus …

… not my monkeys.

Civil Unrest

It’s getting friskier in the ‘burbs than at any point in my living memory. I lived somewhere else during the Rodney King riots, but I don’t remember any of that coming out of the city. Here, we had a looting attempt at Neshaminy Mall and an active issue at Franklin Mills Mall. A pizza place around the corner from me had an incident. We were wondering what all the sirens were about.

To quote my grandfather: “This country is going to hell in a hand basket.” At this point, if I didn’t have to maintain a Facebook presence for my club, I would quit social media, which I think is stirring this toxic brew. I keep going back to “One Screen, Two Movies,” because it’s becoming more and more apparent as time goes on.

Remember back when we all wanted to take down the mainstream media? Mission accomplished! And now we’re getting it good and hard by what is replacing it.

Polling Shows People Support Closing Gun Stores

I believe the poll showing that Americans want to keep gun stores closed is correct. But people’s real views on any given topic are always more complicated than any poll can tease out. Very few people want to tell pollsters they think the economy is more important than saving grandma. What this poll tells you is that for many people, saving grandma is important to them. How many people who say “yes,” gun shops should stay closed were frantically calling around trying to make an appointment to buy guns? A whole lot if you believe the NICS figures.

Just to give a personal anecdote, someone asked yesterday whether I think the response was a) appropriate, b) inadequate, or c) excessive. Really all three, depending on context. But I chose c), and that reveals what I care about. Because in front of my mind are:

  • The drive up church services being busted up.
  • Golf courses being allowed to open but not outdoor shooting ranges.
  • California’s Governor threatening to close down beaches which can be used safely if people stay apart.
  • The arbitrary enforcement of the lockdown rules in some states (Home Depot and Lowes are getting away with violations that small businesses aren’t, and it’s destroying them).

But, generally speaking, I think the broad quarantine orders were understandable given the circumstances of where I live. Maybe not if you lived somewhere COVID was largely absent when the orders came. But no government response is going to be overflowing with competence. One reason you haven’t seen me going off on political rants is I have very low expectations of what government is capable of, and I think expecting competence is naive. Government is a poor tool to fix what ails society. Sometimes it’s all we got, but it’s never going to be really good at the things it does which are necessary. And it certainly won’t perform well during a century level crisis where nobody really has a clue.

Overall, I don’t think there’s any unity in this country at all. I’m seeing awful behavior from nearly everyone. This is exacerbating our divisions and bringing out the worst on the left and right: both have their respective pathologies dialed up to 11. What’s needed is adaptability and a little humility, and I’m not seeing any of that. When we come out of this crisis, I think our political divisions will be much worse than the already sorry state we entered it with.

OK, Maybe One More COVID Post

I started a new job right before all the lockdowns started, which meant being onboarded at the new offices, given a laptop, and sent home. I haven’t seen the office or any coworkers since. I used to work with the manager at a previous job, almost 20 years ago at this point, which is how I got in. So I at least know one person there. But I’ve had to lean on him more than I’d like to. He could use having items taken off his plate. But even when I started with clients, I tended to be there for the planning stuff, and only did the actual execution from home.

As for switching jobs when I did, let me tell you, I’m damned lucky. I have spent the past 20 years worried whether I’ll have a job in a few months. I’ve never worked for a company that consistently made money. This company is, and because we’re in the clinical trial business, we’re expecting COVID to slow the growth a bit, rather than hammer us. Trials are still continuing, and we’re signing some COVID related business, which feels good to be helping.

Our club has been closed since the order mid-March. We cancelled all events, including my steel matches, before that. The place has been shut down. We were starting to wrap up a major construction project when this hit, and that had to stop. I’ve only been there to check on the place and make sure the mail gets taken in, etc. The club is a mess. Garbage has blown in from all over the place. It really needs a work party.

I figured this would be a good time to get a lot of things done for the club, but I find I just don’t have the energy. All the energy goes into the new job, and there’s nothing left over, which is unusual for me. My mental productivity is probably half what it was pre-lockdown. So I’ve had no energy at all for the blog. I’m an introvert, so I would say I’m handling it OK, but there are limits. It’s also hard when I get calls from club members, and realize they just want someone to talk to. We’re the only social interaction some of these guys get.

One question they asked at the new job to introduce the new employees: “What are you going to do when everything opens back up.” To answer is go to the gun club I belong to and shoot the shit out of the steel targets.” But you never know how people are going to react to that answer, so I had to come up with something else quick. Governor Wolf announced construction can continue May 1st, so we’re hoping we can resume that project and have everything open when we reopen. It would be nice. But when can we reopen? Who knows at this point, and dues are coming up. I’m really hoping it’s not a blood bath of non-renewals, because we just finished climbing out of our last deep membership hole. Now we have a whole new one.

All I’m Going to Say About COVID-19

Boy the COVID pandemic sure makes me want to go colonize Mars. Between the dripping condescension over people who make different risk/benefit calculations and conclude reopeners only want to kill grandma and the “But muh rights!” crowd, get me off, please.

I’m very pro-individual rights, but the government has long had considerable power to halt the spread of communicable disease during active epidemics. All this has happened before: business closures, travel restrictions, mask mandates, etc. Fines for spitting in public were particularly severe during the 1918 Spanish Flu. I don’t think the current lockdown is sustainable economically, but for opening back up to not cause a second wave of infections, everyone’s going to have to make some sacrifices for the common good. This doesn’t mean we haven’t seen government acting like petty tyrants. When they exercise power for power’s sake, unrelated to stopping disease, the courts and people should punish them harshly.

But if the state mandates masks in an area with active outbreak, what’s it to you? Anywhere from 20%-50% of infected people are asymptomatic. That means you can’t just quarantine the sick, because we don’t know who the sick are. There aren’t enough tests to sustain the level of testing needed to sort that out. The mask isn’t to protect you so much as it’s to protect everyone else from your crud in case you’re one of those asymptomatic carriers. It’s not perfect, but it doesn’t have to be. It just needs to make the virus successful at transmitting less often.

By the same token, we can’t keep everyone locked down for many more months, and a lot of places just aren’t all that affected by the pandemic. A lot of the people pushing for extended lockdown are financially well off and can afford it. It looks very different to people who aren’t, or who are facing failure of their businesses. Why wouldn’t you expect they’d make a different risk assessment? There’s only so much money you can print and borrow, and our political system will extract a heavy price in graft to keep those checks coming. There aren’t any good choices here, so why lecture people who make a different bad choice and accuse them of wanting to murder people? Not helpful.

BOHICA

The media will run this up and down and sideways, unless it interferes with a narrative, in which case it will quickly disappear. Their coverage, their endless obsession with the shooter, will plant the seed in the brain of the next unhinged loser, and the cycle will continue. I’m sure, as we speak, the media are looking for narratives: did he buy the gun at a gun show in Arizona? God help us if he did. California has all the gun laws the antis could dream of, but that will go unmentioned. There will always be a pretext for needing more of the cake.

Signs and Portents

Politico reports on what is alleged to be a White House proposal (PDF link) for increasing background checks. Only, something is kind of fishy about it. The Politico story quotes a White House spokesman

As far as the document circulating on the Hill, [Hogan Gidley, a White House spokesman] added: “That is not a White House document, and any suggestion to contrary is completely false.”

And when I actually read the (alleged) document, I have my doubts. It’s possible that the White House drafted a proposal that starts with the premise that there are Unlicensed Commercial Sales, and that there are commercial sellers who are not licensed dealers, but that doesn’t seem all that likely to me. Unless they’re expanding the definition of “commercial sales” to include all sales (there’s a reference to “Manchin-Toomey draft legislation” as well, which I haven’t seen the current iteration of).

Anyway, with the White House disavowing the proposal, and the Republican Senate refusing to move without clear guidance from the White House, things are looking a bit less grim? No reason to stop paying attention, though.

Clayton on Mass Murders

Clayton is doing an extensive study of mass murder in the United States, going back to 1657.

You probably can’t name the mass murders that killed 87 people in 1990 ;or 97 people in 1986; or the 1973 New Orleans gay bar with 33 dead.  All were arson, and are nearly unknown because there were no guns.  The 1990 murders were with $1 of gasoline bought a nearby gas station; the 1986 murders with a can of camp stove fuel; the 1973 murders were with a can of cigarette lighter fluid bought down the street.

RTWT.

Uncomfortable Truth for Our People

Tam is also right, and much like NDT, I’m not sure a lot of people will want to hear it:

Most people don’t get carry permits, and even those who do mostly don’t carry their guns. The odds of a mass shooting are already like a lightning bolt or meteor strike. The odds of a mass shooting happening within 25 yards of a truly skilled shooter with a USPSA GM ticket or FAST coin* are “meteor strike in your back yard that goes through the hoop of the basketball goal in your driveway and gets nothing but net” rare.

I’m not a USPSA GM and I don’t have a FAST coin. But I’m better than your average shooter. And to be honest, if I’m near a mass shooting in progress, and I can find an exit from the situation that doesn’t involve return fire, I’m taking it. If I a shot presented itself, I’d take it. But I’m not going to go looking for it. I’ll let the guys with body armor handle that.

If you ask me, politicians don’t have the answer for this phenomena, and anything they try will just do more damage. A mass public shooting is lightning strike in terms of probability. It’s a symptom of an increasingly disconnected society and marginalizes and isolates a lot of young boys. I think the causes are multiple. But ultimately, I think it boils down to a destruction of community, family, and connectedness, and social media is only making the problem worse.

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