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Jay Lake
Date: 2012-12-27 08:21
Subject: [links] Link salad hauls the anchor up and leaves the land astern
Security: Public
Tags:cars, christianists, culture, funny, gay, guns, healthcare, history, language, links, nature, personal, politics, religion, science, tech, word
Grendel as Grinch — I always liked, "Go and tell Lord Grendel that the tide is on the turn…" (Via Steve Buchheit.)

The Santaland Diaries — David Sedaris with the best Christmas radio commentary ever.

Literary moist aversionLanguage Log with some fairly deep linguistic neepery on what I consider to be one of the silliest topics going.

DUI Christmas Float[H]ow fast would a parade have to be going before it would cease to be a "parade" and turn into a "high-speed chase"?

Feds Requiring ‘Black Boxes’ in All Motor Vehicles

Earthworm guts become factory for nanoparticlesFed the right elements, worm "livers" make quantum dots. Which suggests some really interesting SFnal story possibilities.

Researchers: Amazon deforestation is devastating microbial communities

Evidence shows starvation did not cause saber-tooth cat extinction

Erratic Environment May Be Key to Human Evolution

Limbo — Best healthcare system in the world. Right. Read this and tell me again how good we are? ACA might not solve this particular problem, but it's a step in sort-of-the-right direction. Single payer would be a much better step, and someday we'll wake up from the irrational conservative death grip on our national decision making process and figure out what the rest of the industrialized West figured out decades ago, but right now? US healthcare is a disgrace.

Fox News says Fred Phelps’ “God Hates F*gs” hate group is “left wing” — Right. And conservatives wonder why the rest of us think they're nuts. Fred Phelps is the id of the GOP, has been for years. Why is FOX even allowed to call itself "news"? I could call myself an astronaut, but that doesn't mean I get to fly in space.

Seeking Answers in Genome of Gunman

More Guns, Less Crime: A Dialogue — Ta-Nehisi Coates and Jeff Goldberg talking about guns. Goldberg, as usual with conservatives, is missing the point. Mass shootings by the 'crazies' are headline grabbers, but almost 100 people a day are shot by husbands, friends, lovers, parents, children. Guns make it far easier to kill than any other means, in a single moment of passion. That is the problem as much or more than anything else in the whole mess. If you can't accept that basic logical premise, then you're in deep denial for sake of your love of firearms and aren't prepared to engage in a socially responsible discussion of national gun policy.

Newspaper sparks outrage for publishing names, addresses of gun owners — I have mixed feelings about this. Emotionally, I'm all for it. Gun owners scare me a lot more than criminals. Criminals basically aren't interested in me, but anyone having a bad day and burning to take out their frustrations could be packing heat, and I could be the guy who took "their" parking space the day they lose control. (Back when I was an apartment dweller, I was in fact once threatened with shooting by a gun-owning neighbor for exactly that infraction. People who own guns have a lot more faith in their self-control than I have in their self-control.) But as a matter of social policy, privacy is important.

?otD: Will you be back again?




12/27/2012
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo brain)
Hours slept: 12.5 hours (11.0 hours fitful, 1.5 hours napping)
Body movement: 0.5 hours (30 minutes on the stationary bike)
Weight: 211.4
Number of FEMA troops on my block teaching critical thinking to the children of conservatives: 0
Currently reading: The Hydrogen Sonata by Iain M. Banks

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Chris McKitterick: Farscape
User: mckitterick
Date: 2012-12-27 16:56 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Farscape
Gun rights are not a liberal vs. conservative issue.

Jay, I understand why you, especially, would be afraid of guns, with that experience. My (healthy) fear of guns is counterbalanced by knowing I can defend myself against violent intruders (and have, without every shooting anyone), which is the whole point. You would think the fact that far, far more violent crimes are prevented by law-abiding citizens using guns (merely as a threat) than perpetrated by criminals or madmen would make gun rights a personal-liberty rather than authoritarian issue, and thus a liberal or Democratic issue. Sadly, the (growing) majority of gun-owners in the US are conservative and/or Republican, while gun ownership among liberals and/or Democrats had been declining for a while. If the reverse were true, this would probably STILL be a partisan issue, but with Faux News over-reporting on every shooting and digging up how it's all the fault of The Armed Socialists. *sigh*

It's like the issue you point out with Faux News and the Phelpses: When an issue is perceived as partisan, partisans become blind to reason.
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Debbie N.
User: wild_irises
Date: 2012-12-27 20:24 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Regarding Fred Phelps as a liberal. Wow, just wow.

It's time for someone to nominate Fox News for a literary award.

I always take the opportunity to post this link when Phelps and the Westboro Church come up in conversation. Addicted to Hate is John Michael Bell's book written about the Phelps family and never published because it was an exhibit in a trial and became public domain.

I haven't read it all but what I have read is both very upsetting and riveting.

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mevennen
User: mevennen
Date: 2012-12-27 20:55 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thank you for the link - very interesting. I always think of the Phelps family as being like the Church of the Quivering Brethren in Cold Comfort Farm, but more malevolent. But I think there is hope in that they are so out of step now with the rest of America - I gather evangelical churches have denounced them. Whereas 100 years ago they would actually have been far more mainstream.
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ericjamesstone
User: ericjamesstone
Date: 2012-12-28 00:57 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Jay, would you talk about Muslims in general as being just a bad day away from blowing you up with a suicide bomb? If not, why do you feel it's OK to level a similar smear against gun owners in general, when the vast majority of them never have and never will shoot anyone?

Of course, there are some scary people who own guns, but I personally know quite a few gun owners who are extremely unlikely to shoot you, and I don't know a single one who I'd be worried would shoot you (unless you physically attacked them, which I consider highly unlikely absent a zombie virus or something similar). For you to be scared of them is just prejudice on your part.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2012-12-28 01:30 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
To put it simply, Muslim terrorists blew up about 3,000 people in the US in the last decade, in one incident. Gun owners (or at least gun users) killed about 300,000 people in that same span of time, in perhaps 200,000 incidents. Of course I'm a lot more scared of them. Wouldn't you be, at those odds?
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ericjamesstone
User: ericjamesstone
Date: 2012-12-28 06:57 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You miss the point, Jay. It's about your prejudice in fearing everyone in a group just because a tiny minority of that group are killers.

But let's take a closer look at your figures.

During the last decade, the number of Muslims in the U.S. went from about 1 million to 2.6 million, so let's say an average of 1.8 million during the period. (http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/number-muslims-u-s-doubles-9-11-article-1.1071895)

The number of gun-owning households is about 52 million. (http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_many_gun_owners_are_there_in_the_United_States_of_America) Average household size is around 2.5, so that's 130 million people in gun-owning households. (Yes, that number includes the children in families that own guns, but the numbers for Muslims includes children as well, so that cancels out.)

Now, suicides make up more than half of your 300,000 figure for gun deaths (http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/2008-06-30-3858863648_x.htm), but self-inflicted gunshots don't really count toward your risk of being shot by a gun owner. So let's call it 150,000 homicide gun deaths (including accidental deaths) caused by 130,000,000 people in gun-owning households.

And we'll take your figure of 3000 deaths by terrorism caused by 1,800,000 Muslims.

You're right that the gun owners caused more aggregate deaths, but the ratio of gun homicides to gun owners (0.12%) is lower than the ratio of terrorism deaths to Muslims (0.17%). Thus, on a per-person basis, during the last decade Muslims were more likely to kill you with terrorism than gun owners were to kill you with a gun.

But I can understand if you choose to base your fear of entire classes of mostly innocent people on the aggregate chance they will kill you, rather than the chance any particular individual will kill you. If so, you must admit to being more scared of car owners than of gun owners, since the number of non-drivers killed by car accidents each year is higher than the number of gun homicides (http://www.car-accidents.com/pages/fatal-accident-statistics.html) which means you're more likely to be killed by a car while you're not driving than you are to be killed by a gun owner.

You pride yourself on your rationality, Jay. Based on these statistics, is your fear of gun owners rational? (Having irrational fears of classes of people is a perfectly normal, human response, and I don't blame you for having an irrational fear of gun owners, especially since you have a past experience of being threatened by a gun owner. I'm just trying to help you recognize that it is irrational, in much the same way as fearing all Muslims because of terrorism committed by a tiny percentage.)
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Jay Lake: politics-rifleman
User: jaylake
Date: 2012-12-28 17:30 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:politics-rifleman
My basic response is that I'm not afraid of a class of people, I'm afraid of a class of events. Is it irrational to be afraid of 10,000 unnecessary deaths a year? (Taking your point about homicides with that number, obviously.)

With a few exceptions, every (identified-to-me) gun owner I've met has been a sane, rational, responsible person. My life these days, as opposed to when I was younger, keeps me away from those exceptions.

It's not the people I'm afraid of, it's their weapons and the violence those weapons enable simply by existing on almost literally every street corner in America. I am perhaps guilty of conflating language and imprecision in making this point.

And my apologies if I'm missing your point.
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