The Gun Debate

The right wing, I have  often  noticed, speaks with one voice.  This is a very effective political tactic in the short term, and it has got them to where they are today, but that won’t last.  Progress may come in fits and starts, but it is the general direction of history and conservatism is rowing against the current.
The left wing, on the other hand, is made up of so many different opinions it is  difficult to keep straight.  It is frustrating and irritating to argue with right wingers, but it is actually  more difficult to argue with left wingers, because  each one has a different view of what kind of world we’re working  toward.  There are feminists, and vegetarians, and more genders than I  ever knew existed, and Luddites, and Buddhists, and people who speak Klingon.
Anyway, back to the  ‘one voice’ thing.  It’s kind of not working for them in  the current, post-Parkland gun debate.  First, they all jumped on  the ‘mental health’ bandwagon, and it was so instant it had to be orchestrated.  The comments from Republican politicians and from my gun loving Facbook friends appeared almost simultaneously.  The mental  health argument didn’t work too well  for them, though, because a lot of liberals said “O.K., let’s talk about mental health.  Wouldn’t you agree that we  should keep guns away from mentally ill  people?”  (I was stunned at how many people answered “no”), and we pointed  out that Trump had made it easier for crazy people  to get guns.
They may have been a bit surprised at how quickly the Parkland student body turned activist (I know I  was) but they wasted  no  time in attacking them.  Being used by George Soros, they said.  Paid actors, they said.  And now, one Texas School district is threatening to expel students who walk out to protest school shootings, which is a mindless response (expelling students from school because they are leaving school), but not surprising, because right wingers speak  with one  voice.
The paid actor thing is a particularly stupid charge, because (as in every  school everywhere) the students know the other students and every student at Parkland High knows that Emma Gonzales and David Hogg are students at their school.
But, they don’t care.  “Throw enough shit at the wall and some of it’s bound to stick” has been their strategy for a long time.  Though this argument is laughable, and was swiftly debunked, they’ll have moved on  to another by morning.  Because they all speak with one voice.

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If It’s Fake, It’s No Longer Funny

I’ve got a pet peeve and it surfaced today.  It’s not that people post stupid fake memes, although that, too.  Stupid bothers me.   Fake bothers me more.   Especially if I can’t tell it’s a fake.  It’s sort of an uncanny valley thing.  If you’re talking to someone non-human, you would rather know it.  (Just watched ‘Get Out’ by the way.  Fantastic movie but I’m not going to say anything about it. See it.) See it.
Anyway, I’m used to stupid fake memes.  They come up every day.  It’s how people react to them that bothers me.  Today, a friend of mine posted a meme.
Let me make clear that this  is an intelligent person with whom I agree more than 50% of the time.  It was a short video of a couple of shoplifters who foil a more serious armed robbery with a skateboard and sophisticated teamwork.  After a short back and forth with a couple of people about whether it was fake or not, it was conclusively proven that it was.

In defense of the site that produced the video, they had clearly labeled it as fiction (I guess.  It comes from a site that posts ‘fake memes’ quite openly, at any rate.)  But the people who reposted it just didn’t bother to include that.  It’s the internet, and it happens.  This is what anarchy looks like.
But the original poster, when faced with proof that the meme was not real (as he had thought it was, and I wasn’t sure) did not  say “Whoops, my bad, I’ll take it down forthwith” nor did he just take it down forthwith and maybe send a private message to whoever sent it to him pointing out its complete lack of veracity.  Those would have been appropriate responses.  He wrote(as so many do, which is my  pet peeve) “It may  be fake, but it’s still funny.”

I don’t think so.  The transition between our old, person to person communication culture was sometimes slow and unfulfilling, but the mass communication of the internet, while promising us infinite connectedness and knowledge, has become a maze of misinformation, a noisy casino of bells and whistles, a swamp of ignorance and distraction that sucks us further in at every step.
If we react to the first hint of bullshit by immediately scrubbing it from our screens, we still have a chance of turning it all to positive dialogue.  But if we don’t, then we don’t.

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More Shit about Russia

I’ve written about the whole Russian thing a couple of times already this week, so I don’t want to get too deep into it, but…

I think there are a couple of things that Americans are overlooking.  I may be underestimating most Americans, but I did grow up there, and judging from the current political climate, certain things haven’t changed.  To Americans, the rest of the world is invisible.   If they notice it at all, it is like some big, fearsome place.
So, I realize that I may be saying things that any intelligent person would know, but it certainly seems they are being overlooked.

First, the internet  is international.  O.K., maybe not China, they’ve got their own system going on, but there are people from almost everywhere on Facebook.  Among my Facebook friends are people in Russian, and Brazil, and Iran, and England, and Australia, and New Zealand, and Canada, and lots of other countries.  I like  that aspect of it,  and I don’t think it’s possible to ever og back from it.
Second, people in other countries have opinions about American politics.  It’s hard to avoid.  The U.S. is a key player in world politics.

So, any time there is a U.S. election, and this is going to be the case from now on, foreign individuals are  going to be blogging about it, posting memes about it, sharing articles about it, and making comments on it.
I don’t know if they’ll find any serious wrongdoing (all that was wrong with their ads is that they were super lame, but identity theft is a serious crime), but I doubt they’ll even be able to bring them to trial.

They are in Russia.  It’s a whole other country.

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Just Bitching

This morning I woke up and finished, first thing, well, making coffee was first thing, but I finished the poem on the  first cup and it was a poem that had been thrashing around in my mind for four or five days, so I felt real good about that.
I posted it right away to two poetry sites.  One, which is exclusively  for  rhyming poetry, I’ll  probably just ignore in future.  I’ve submitted three poems there, starting a couple of weeks ago, and it still just says ‘3 Poems Pending,’ whereas most other sites just put them up right away.
I could respect  a model where not all poems are published, but I glanced through the site a bit and realized that plenty of the poetry there is crap so  it’s not a question of editors being selective, it’s a question, likely, of editors being absent.  I also noticed that about half the posts were from one person, the admin, and a lot  of the others were announcements of poetry events and contests.
On the other site, I just checked and zero reactions to my masterpiece.  Par for the course, but par for the course is pretty darned frustrating.  About an hour ago, I published another poem there, a much  shorter one, 4 lines, just a silly thing, but that allows people to read it all at once and it means you can give it a colored background.  It got a couple of likes almost immediately.
It’s human nature, I guess.  I also ignore a lot of poems which are long enough that you have to click on ‘more,’ which is at about  3 or 4 lines, so it’s just long enough to get a spark or not and allows no room for a poem to build slowly.  The literature of the future is going to have to be short and sweet.  Because, as Marshall McCluhan said, the medium is the message.

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More About The Russians

Seriously, Hillary loyalists must be starting to feel a little bit embarrassed about now.  13 Russians, and they’ve been charged with opening Facebook accounts under false names.  Who hasn’t done that?

Well, maybe that’s a bit disingenuous of me.  There’s a difference between using a joke name and setting up an account for Boogerface P. Malarkey or E. Tobaggo Dix, and actually stealing somebody’s identity for the account information.  So, I guess they can add identity theft.
It’s not going to lead to impeachment, though. (They’ve got plenty for that.  If they wanted to impeach, they  could impeach.)  They’ve pretty  much admitted they don’t have enough to make the collusion charge stick.  They’ve changed the rhetoric from ‘tampering with’ the election down to ‘influencing’ the election.  So, it’s time for a quick review of a few key words.

Rigging – Deciding on a predetermined outcome, and being able to enforce it.  What Hillary did in the primaries.
Hacking – Something only people who are really good with computers can do.  It’s not just spamming or trolling.  It’s stealing passwords, taking over somebody’s computer, nasty stuff like that.  To  say the election was hacked means somebody actually gained control over the voting machines.  I doubt very much if the 13 trolls they just arrested had done that.  And the DNC servers were not hacked.  That was a leak.
Tampering – Maybe like low level hacking.  Could be old fashioned political shenanigans.  Stink bombs at polling stations, stealing yard signs, stuff like that.

Leak – If you get the information legitimately, like maybe your an insider, and you tell other people.  This is how Julian Assange got the goods on the DNC.  It doesn’t matter what the DNC says, they are liars.
Influence –  When you try to convince people to vote for the candidate you like.  That’s what the 13 Russians, who have not been connected to the Russian government, nor yet (though I wouldn’t be surprised) to the Trump campaign, are accused of.  That, and maybe the identity theft.

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13 Russians

I guess we will just have to wait and see what it all means.  Robert Mueller has indicted 13 Russians for meddling in the U.S. presidential election in 2016.  But what does this mean?
If they were actually working for the Russian government, it might be worth making a diplomatic protest over, but unless the ‘interference’ actually  involved hacking voting machines, distributing false ballots, or arranging the closure of polling places in key districts, then it’s probably not illegal.
See, a Russian person, even one who is kind of sleazy and uses a fake name for their account, has a right to have an opinion on American elections.  I’m an American citizen, and I have posted my opinion on elections in Britain, and Ukraine, and Italy, and France, and of course the Czech Republic where I live.  Frequently.  If they had looked for accounts with a negative view of Hillary coming from Brazil, or England, or Nigeria, I’m sure they could have found plenty.  She’s been on the world stage for a long time and you’d be hard pressed to find a country where at least some people haven’t formed an opinion of Hillary Clinton, and it’s likely that 50% of those opinions are negative.
If they prove that these people are working directly for the Russian government, well, that’s objectionable, but is  it any  worse  than our U.S. politicians constantly  making snide remarks about Venezuela, or actually invading Syria and arming terrorist groups to try and  oust their president?
I hope this keeps going up and up until it touches somebody that counts, but I would have preferred they go after Trump for tax evasion, or  money  laundering, or corruption, or anything that is actually, clearly and unarguably criminal. I wish Robert Mueller all  the  luck in the world, and would love to see him bring Trump down.  However, I don’t think that charges against ’13 Russians’ is going to do it.

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Gun Control – a Couple of Ideas

One idea,  of course, is a tax.  A 1,000% tax on any ammunition that can be used in assault rifles.  It wouldn’t make it too difficult to OWN them,  if all  you want to do is hang the gun on the wall and admire the craftsmanship.  It might be prohibitive for hunters, because if you spend $1,000 to shoot a deer – 2 or 3,000 if you’re a bad shot – the meat does not justify the cost.
The other idea is insurance.  If you want to buy a gun, you should need a license, and we should make one of the requirements for the license liability insurance – same as with a driver’s license.  Now, let’s set the price of one life at $10,000,000.  I’m sure those who’ve lost people would say that’s not nearly enough, but it will do as a nice, round number to illustrate the idea.  $2,000,000 for serious injury.  Faced with the prospect of a $200,000,000 payout, you can be certain the insurance companies would be asking a lot of questions.
“Do you have any children at home?”
“Are any of them teenage boys?”
“Do they have any friends?”

“Are they known for making jokes about how much they’d like to kill people?”

“Have they ever been associated with any hate groups or paramilitary groups?”
“Have they ever been banned from having a backpack at school because the teachers were afraid of what he might be carrying in it?”
Stuff like that.  I think it would cut mass shootings and, in fact, all gun crime right down.

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