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A hard progressives take on the current gun debate

Basically this is an assembly of a few posts I wrote on the Voices facebook group in a gun ban discussion.

Summary - my key point is at the bottom, that republicans will just use a gun ban as a political football to appeal to the independents, the centrist dems, and to motovate their base. They will use gun bans as a key issue in the elections, may win, and will just overturn gun bans. They did it before.

So, a gun ban hands them a political opportunity, and plays to  their strengths.

I think we should instead impose heavy pigouvian taxes on guns, by class, with the heaviest taxes on military style weapons.

We should police gun crimes and gun incidents much more severely and strictly.

We should criminalize gun mishandling. Letting minors access guns unsupervised should be considered a crime. Gun accidents should be treated as crime.

We should be teaching gun wisdom and gun awareness, probably thru a series of well designed PSA's and television shows and other venues. Try to reduce the fear and paranoia, rather than increase it.

All of these things are constitutionally allowed, and will appeal to the rights love of punishment and morality theatre. Read more »

Ironic. Pa woman, star of the open carry movement, shot dead in front of her kids by husband another open carry enthusiast.

This is an old shooting - but someone sent me the news item as if it were recent...

Ironic. A Lebonan Pa woman, star of the open carry movement, shot dead in front of her kids by husband another open carry enthusiast. And the neighbor is "surprised she didn't defend herself".

Yes, every wife should be ready to blast her suicidal husband, whenever he starts to get hinky. And vice versa. The only good marriage is a a marriage with mutually assured destruction. The new most-popular wedding gift? His and her's glocks, with bullets engraved with the spouses name.
Read more »

Two comets are coming! "2013 could be the year of the great comets."

They say another bright comet could be coming in 2013,

Remarkably Ison might not be the only spectacular comet visible next year. Another comet, called 2014 L4 (PanSTARRS), was discovered last year and in March and April it could also be a magnificent object in the evening sky

Then Comet Ison, the Holiday Comet of 2013, gets bright in november and december and may be visible for months. You know, I really hope we get together a sample-return mission - send a robot to the comet to collect samples, then send another ship to follow to bring them back. (Break it up into two missions so you have extra time to prepare).

This was an excellent article - worth the click. Read more »

Why are males (child-men, calling them 'men' causes nausea and the risk of projectile vomiting) such idiots?

As someone with a lot of experience on the net, I am often appalled by male posters, whose immaturity is only exceded by the utterly predictable and copied stupidity of their opinions.

Males do not become men in our society - they fail utterly, forever trapped in some kind of whining and pathetic emotionally stunted monster-adolescent stage. No pride, no honor, no manhood.

And they wonder why women despise them...


Laurie Penny: A woman's opinion is the mini-skirt of the internet

For criticising neo-liberal economic policymaking, it was suggested I should be made to fellate a row of bankers


"You come to expect it, as a woman writer, particularly if you're political. You come to expect the vitriol, the insults, the death threats. After a while, the emails and tweets and comments containing graphic fantasies of how and where and with what kitchen implements certain pseudonymous people would like to rape you cease to be shocking, and become merely a daily or weekly annoyance, something to phone your girlfriends about, seeking safety in hollow laughter.

Honesty - a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular - Adlai Stevenson


How to Be Honest Without Being Harsh

  1. Focus on how you present your honest assessment of any situation. This is the most important part of reducing any sense of harshness––the how of delivery matters. Begin from a position of kindness, of acceptance that it is better to be tactfully honest than to let someone go on believing something that isn't true. Be prepared to stick to the objective, identifiable facts and avoid making emotional observations. Act from the goodness of exposing a problem in need of a solution. And be aware that this is a communication skill––as with all skills, it will take time and practice to perfect, with a good dose of humility thrown in.
    • Consider the person with whom you must be honest. Don't be brash or too pointed where the person is usually shy or very sensitive. Take into account their nature when adapting your message. There will be a different approach between telling your best friend something delicate and motivating a slack co-worker with whom you're trying to complete a project.
    • If you need to rehearse, do so! It is much better to have gone over what you're going to say to iron out any insensitive or thoughtless comments that might crop up through nervousness or an over-willingness to "set things right". It won't make you sound forced; practice will actually help you to work through whether this is the right thing to do, and which words are the right ones to use.

Paul Krugman and the Issac Asimov "Foundation" novels - a story of youth and inspiration

Paul Krugman talks about how the Issac Asimoc Foundation novels influenced him in his youth, and why that led him to economics.


Yet if the Foundation books are a tale of prophecy fulfilled, it's a very bourgeois version of prophecy. This is no tale of the secret heir coming into his heritage, of the invincible swordsman winning the day with his prowess. Asimov clearly despises both aristocracy and militarism; his heroes, such as they are, are unpretentious and a bit uncouth, with nothing martial about them. "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent," declares Mayor Salvor Hardin.


But wait: Foundation isn't about the triumph of the middle class, either. We never get to see the promised Second Empire, which may be just as well, because it probably wouldn't be very likeable. Clearly, it's not going to be a democracy – it's going to be a mathematicized version of Plato's Republic, in which the Guardians derive their virtue from the axioms of psychohistory. What this means for the books is that while a relatively bourgeois society may be the winner in each of the duels, Asimov is neither endorsing that society nor giving it a special long-run destiny. What this means for the storytelling is that the struggles don't have to be and aren't structured as a conventional tale of good guys versus villains, and the novels have that unexpected cynicism. The Foundation may start out a lot nicer than its barbarous neighbours, but it evolves over time into a corrupt oligarchy – and that's all part of the plan. And because the story arc is about the fulfilment of the Seldon Plan, not the triumph of the men in white hats, Asimov is also free to make some of his villains not especially villainous. Read more »

LOL secret tape recording (found by Bob Woodward) proves "Fair and Balanced" FOX news really is a front for the Republican Party


The Tape recording was initially revealed by Bob Woodward of the Washington Post on Dec 3...

"At one point, McFarland and Petraeus spoke about the possibility that Rupert Murdoch, the head of News Corp., which owns Fox News, would “bankroll” the campaign.

“Rupert’s after me as well,” Petraeus told McFarland.

McFarland said she had spoken “directly” to the Fox News chairman and the “advice to you from Roger Ailes is. . . . He says that if you’re offered [JCS] chairman, take it. If you’re offered anything else, don’t take it; resign in six months and run for president.”

Petraeus demurred, saying he would consider the CIA directorship if Obama offered it, as the president did several weeks later. Petraeus was confirmed and sworn in as director on Sept. 6, 2011. He resigned a year later, on Nov. 9, after the disclosure of an extramarital affair with his biographer. Read more »

Cloud Atlas really is the masterpiece they said it was

The wife and I finally got the time to go see Cloud Atlas.


Yes, long, and confusing - but a masterwork of filmmaking. 

If you are a straighty-straight, you won't like it.

PSU Prof Doug Kennett's new study shows Maya thrived and declined because of climate change

The Maya civilization grew quickly because of the effects of a long period of greater than average rainfall - and then died when the local climate became drier, and the complex systems of the civilzation were not able to adapt to the rapid changes.

There's a lesson here I think.

Complex systems can be surprisingly stable - but they can also be surprisingly fragile. When our own civilization is hit with the triple hammer of global warming, fossil carbon EROI (energy return on investment) decline, and exponential population increase, it is not going to be easy for us to adapt quickly enough to keep our own complex systems going.

An ancient civilization's wet ascent, dry demise
Newly documented climate shifts helped shape Classic Maya destiny

A 2,000-year climate record, gleaned from a stalagmite inside a Belize cave, highlights a central role for climate shifts in the ancient civilization’s fortunes, say anthropologist Douglas Kennett of Penn State University and his colleagues.

"The Fight over Medical Marijuana" - pretty good video from the New York Times, of all places

The NYT (New York Times), does some decent journalism, but is basically a mouthpiece of the neolib empire - and you have to know that, as you study the journalism that gets done there.

So it's interesting to see a big editorial on the injustice of Obama's personal war on medical marijuana states, with a (non-embeddable, those DRM-lovers) video that is actually pretty good. A short video, easy and fun to watch, I guarantee you it's worth the click.

If the NYT does a serious piece, with a movie, asking if the federal persecution of medical marijuana states makes sense - perhaps a new day is finally dawning. We shall see.

The Fight Over Medical Marijuana

And federal drug laws are unjustifiably extreme. Consider the case of Chris Williams, the subject of this Op-Doc video, who opened a marijuana grow house in Montana after the state legalized medical cannabis. Mr. Williams was eventually arrested by federal agents despite Montana’s medical marijuana law, and he may spend the rest of his life behind bars. While Jerry Sandusky got a 30-year minimum sentence for raping young boys, Mr. Williams is looking at a mandatory minimum of more than 80 years for marijuana charges and for possessing firearms during a drug-trafficking offense. Read more »

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