Monday, February 19, 2018

We don't blame the guns.

We don’t blame the guns. We blame the shitty culture that equates gun ownership with masculinity and virtue; which tells boys that real men express their emotions through violence; which casts asking for help as unmanly; and which casts fear as equivalent to respect. We blame the shitty laws which make guns easier to buy than decongestant medication; the industry lobbyists who spend millions of dollars to dissuade those elected to represent us from enacting our overwhelmingly popular desire for better regulation of the availability of guns; the advertising which makes guns into fashion items; the fiction which portrays use of guns as a trivial matter, rather than a decision to kill another human. We blame the disingenuous assertion that our desire for better regulation is equivalent to a desire for confiscation; the unremitting calls to wait after every single massacre as the drumbeat of death becomes background noise; the constant focus on finding excuses for the person who made a decision to kill other people; the transparently wrong-headed propaganda claiming that we can do nothing but buy our own guns.

We don’t blame the guns. We blame the attitude that someone bent on murder will find a way to murder, so it’s pointless to put any obstacles between them and the tools for maximally efficient murder.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

My life with pain

Pain is a very interesting subject to write about. People are often confused by it and the terminology surrounding it, so let's open with some definitions.

Pain threshold is when someone starts to feel pain. Some people will fail to notice an injury that would immediately incapacitate someone else. As a chronic pain sufferer, people assume I have a high pain threshold, but that's not the case. If anything, it's low.

Pain tolerance is how much pain someone can tolerate. This is where I have an extraordinarily high stat; I can ignore a LOT of pain. Mainly because I've had to, since to the best of my recollection I last had a full day without pain... sometime in 1995. More than half my life ago. And even then, days like that were rare exceptions.

Friday, December 2, 2016

It's the economy, stupid.

We've all encountered the person who says climate change can't be happening, the planet isn't getting warmer, because it's cold right now. I'm pretty sure we all know that that's a result of an overly simplistic understanding of what climate is, how it works, and we know that they're thoroughly wrong.

 Now, President Obama is handing over the strongest economy in ages - but Trump's voters are convinced the economy's wrecked, and Trump can fix it. Why is that?

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Prison Problem

In the news today, the US Department of Justice has announced that it intends to end its use of privately-run, for-profit prisons. There has been much rejoicing, but though this does represent a great step forward, offsetting the great retrograde step of using the damn things in the first place, it does not solve the underlying structural problem with the USA's system of incarceration.

Friday, June 24, 2016

The country I left is gone.

In voting to exit the European Union, the British electorate have killed my homeland. A manifestly imperfect homeland, but a land which strove to be welcoming, to learn from the new people it met. A land which acknowledged its bloody past as Not What We Ought To Have Done. The hope I knew has been swept away in a stream of fear, and of exploitation of that fear for personal gain. The recriminations have begun; Scotland now demands another plebiscite, so that they at least may escape the folly of the English. People who voted to leave now profess remorse, claiming that they did not expect to actually win. The pound, once an exemplar of a strong currency, wilts in the heat of uncertainty. London's financial engines falter, and Calais demands an end to the cooperative arrangement which made popping over to France a trivial matter for those within a few hours of the Channel Tunnel. The Troubles are about to re-emerge, worse than they ever were because everybody thought we had things sorted out; Northern Ireland wishes to remain within the EU, within the group which acts as guarantor of its first run of peace in a century.

The United Kingdom is united no longer, and the land I grew up in, with all its flaws, is dead, killed by ignorance, xenophobia, and lies. Oh ye who now tread the soil of the British Isles, walk softly; for you walk upon the grave of my first home.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Economics Sundays 1: TANSTAAFM

The title acronym is shamelessly stolen from Robert A. Heinlein; his aphorism was that There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch, but it's just as true that There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Market. All markets are unfree, and what we have to decide is how regulated they ought to be.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

State of the Silas

Today, I had possibly the best reason to go to Harbor Freight, which is a seller of crap-but-cheap tools, hand, electrical, and even air-powered. I got my impact wrench there, after scoring a compressor for free when the people across the street decided they could get by with a smaller one. Today, I needed more of those blue rubber gloves (I use them when preparing chicken, since it makes cleaning my hands much easier and less water-intensive) and a leather punch, because the belt I've been wearing recently (a replacement for my much-abused Swedish army belt, which lasted me twenty years!) had become too loose. I needed an extra hole, and we didn't own a punch. Now we do.

What makes this even better is the fact that one of my brain pills has a side effect of weight gain. It's harder than ever for me to keep my weight down (my mother can attest to my struggles; I simply enjoy food, and tend to thicken at the waist) but I'm managing it. That's cause for celebration.