Current Events: Gloom and/or Doom

Inside:  Sobering things to think about; Processing some negative things in the news

Derecho

How’d you all do on the weekend of the big storm when the power went out?

My power was out from Friday evening to Sunday late morning.  Luckily, the power in Kingstowne was on and even with traffic lights out it was fairly easy to get to.  Still about a 20 minute drive.  I went over twice to get food.  I could have gone to the movie theater and watched movies all day but something in my psyche was driving me to return to my cave and hunker down.

I could have driven up to Baltimore to check on and hang out with the family, although that drive would have been long and crazy.

There’s talk, depending on where you get your news/info/opinions, about epic solar storms that will happen in 2012.  If any of these realistically pessimistic scenarios pan out there’s going to be some massive disruption.

Talk of the huge transformers that could get zapped.  $10 million a piece and they take 3 years to build.  Or is it that there’s a 3 year waiting list.  We don’t build them in the US anymore.  Or one company has started making them again.  They’re usually custom built for specific facilities.

So imagine regional power outages projected to last for months or years.  The cell phone infrastructure has about 3 hours of power after an outage.  The landline phone infrastructure has a few days — was it 6?  How long do radio and TV stations last without power, assuming that you have a portable, battery powered device on which to receive the info.

After less than 12 hours of the outage, you couldn’t contact 911 in some areas over AT&T and Verizon.  What the hell is that about?!  That seems like a big deal but it was just kind of glossed over.

Super worse case, nuclear facilities require cooling power.  So if a situation were bad enough there’d be scrambling to prevent Fukushima-like meltdowns in the far suburbs of major metropolitan areas.

Imagine trying to evacuate a city after a week or two of power outages.  Dark intersections.  Gas stations require power to pump the fuel so it would be scarce.  Hours in line to get gas, assuming it goes smoothly and people don’t freak out.

Highways and freeways clogged.  Cars stalled out, broken down or out of fuel.

Where do you get food in that situation?  Clean water?

I think we’re relying on other people to save us.  We lack self sufficiency.  I hear or read tips about what to do in emergencies.  A lot of it isn’t feasible for you if you live in an apartment or even a condo.

Makes you think.

Massacre

I’m already tired of these lame, polarized discussions about the shootings in Colorado.

To follow the conversations on TV and on the internet, we either need less guns or more guns.  Apparently, if you don’t believe one of those things you’re an idiot, according to the rhetoric I’ve been hearing.

It’s our failure to identify and treat mental illness.  It’s our violent and extreme media consumption.  It’s because there’s not enough Jesus.  Or too much Jesus.  Blah blah blah.

Finally, someone says that maybe it’s more than one thing.

My own views, that cat is out of the bag.  Guns hopped out of that Pandora’s box a long time ago and there’s no going back, really.

I mean, you’ve got your legal, law abiding gun enthusiasts (until every once in a while they’re not).  You’ve got your illegal trade.  You’ve got your legal, law abiding citizen afraid and wanting to protect themselves from the people with illegal guns.

You’ve got your nut jobs who go after soft targets.

You’ve got your human self destruct mode.  Where they crack, kill a bunch of people and then themselves.  Often, it’s in the form of family or significant-other’s-family annihilation.

The gun race is the street level version of the nuclear arms race.  How’re you going to convince people that own guns, especially those that fetishize  their guns, to give up their firepower when criminals, gangs and thugs with guns are going to stay armed?

How do you harden soft targets and what does this mean?  Security at schools, churches, parks, malls and public events.  Or ordinary citizens carrying weapons, concealed or otherwise?  Okay.

If that becomes a cultural norm, would that prevent or deter crime and lone gunman outbreaks or would it just motivate them to increase their firepower?

The guy in Colorado, Holmes, came equipped for that possibility as much as possible.  And he used gas.  He had body armor.  Throat protector, groin protector, gas mask, helmet, semi-automatic AR-15, shotgun, two semi-automatic hand guns.

Let’s say there were three people in the movie theater crowd with concealed weapons.  Even if you’re competent with your weapon, I assume that’s not the same as firing under duress.  In combat.  With smoke or tear gas filling the room.  With stampeding, panicked people jumping over seats.

Even if they got off shots, the guy was armored.  They could slow him down maybe, but probably wouldn’t kill him.  A bullet to a tactical helmet.  What does that do?  Does it knock someone unconscious?  That’s assuming a well placed head shot, though, amidst those crazy circumstances.

I’m pretty sure that civilians don’t know how to spontaneously coordinate their gunfire.  You’re in a smoke filled room being attacked and there are gunshots going off.  Who’s who?  One gunshot sound like it came from the left side of the room.  The other from the right.  I’m just saying that life is messy.  It isn’t an action movie where things turn out right just because you’re the potential hero.

I will say this.

Gun Mentality

The people that I know who are into guns have an interesting outlook on things.  Like, there’s a kind of bravado about it.  A “let God sort ’em out” mentality.  A feeling of strength and being a walking demigod among a populous of clueless sheeple.  Emboldened and callous about human life.   Like, some people are disposable.

They’ll make comments about killing people like it’s a fantasy to kill someone justifiably.  Not to say that it’s just a politically conservative thing, but I’ve seen T-shirts about “The only good Liberal is a dead Liberal.”

Bumper stickers about how much they love their guns.  Practically drooling over the ammunition with references to Bible verses on them.

Then again, if the lives of you and your loved ones are ever in serious danger, you’d thank your lucky stars and would be praying to whatever gods you could name that a person with such a mentality would be there to intervene on your behalf.

Like, we can’t expect that someone else is always going to be there to save us.  We need to be able to fend for ourselves.

Meanwhile, we’re a polarized society and it seems like we’re getting more crass, brazen, angry and entitled.  I guess it’s just the Wild West attitude.

I think people should be allowed to buy and own guns.  I think it’s reasonable to have 1) limitations on what one can own and 2) some kind of registration for weapons and maybe even ammo of certain types.  Like, armor piercing ammunition, for example.  Is that still legal?

I think that, all social context aside for a second, Stand Your Ground laws are reasonable.  If someone threatens your life you shouldn’t be punished for doing what you have to do to protect and survive.  These laws make it clear that they don’t apply if you’re the one initiating the conflict.

Let’s say that you broke into my house, beat me badly, stole stuff and then got away.  I can’t come to your house the next day and shoot you in the aorta and claim self defense or that I was standing my ground.  Not lawfully.

There’s a whole ‘nother matter of whether or not the laws are applied in a fair and consistent way.  That remains to be seen.

Some analogies.

You’re allowed to own animals:  dogs, cats, birds, fish, cattle, etc.  I think there are some rules about, say, keeping livestock in Clarendon, Adams Morgan or Federal Hill.

There are much more stringent rules about owning lions, tigers, bears, other large predators and large primates.  That should require a special license and some assurances that those facilities are run safely and well.  Y’know?

There are always people who feel like they’re perfectly within their rights to drive around their town with a full grown tiger in the back seat.  They freak people out.  Those people tend to Darwin out, eventually, from what I’ve read.  They get cocky, believe they have control and someone gets hurt or killed.  And then the animal is put down.

  • In my mind, a Glock is like a German Shepherd or Doberman Pinscher.
  • A semi-auto handgun with an extended clip is like two Pitbulls of questionable temperament.  Not the sweet gentle watchful ones, but the buff ones that make you a little uneasy on sight.
  • A knife is like a poisonous snake.  (Is there a knife equivalent of the NRA?  I can’t even own one of those collapsible batons in most states but I can own an AK-47?)
  • A shotgun is like a bear or mountain lion.
  • A semi-automatic rifle is like a lion or tiger.
  • A full on automatic assault rifle is like a fire breathing dragon.

There should be more rules for keeping a fire breathing dragon in the midst of Manhattan.  Like, no fire breathing dragons in Midtown.  Maybe less if you live in the middle of South Dakota the laws would be more lax, but there should definitely be some kind of rules or regulations if you own a farm with 100 fire breathing dragons.

And you shouldn’t be allowed to bring your fire breathing dragon to an elementary school, for example, except for some very rare and very controlled situations.  Like, if your fire breathing dragon has had its combusto-glands removed.

Damn it

This blog was supposed to not be about guns.

Guns don’t kill people without someone pulling the trigger.  That’s true, yeh.

In a free society, there’s very little to do to prevent these kinds of situation.  They’re unique, unexpected and unpredictable.

We can ban all kinds of things.  Without having metal detectors everywhere, anyone who is determined will still be able to breach soft targets like schools, churches, malls, theaters and so on.  We do have 2nd Amendment rights and should be allowed to own weapons.

No extended clips?  They’ll just bring two handguns and a shotgun.   And a homemade pipe bomb.  That’s nearly 40 opportunities to grievously wound or kill plus a lot more.

Are we so busy worrying about those we consider foreign that we’re willfully blind to the stresses and our lifestyle that is creating these monsters?

No, I don’t want to use the word monsters.  These broken people, whether it’s a middle class academically accomplished guy or a carjacking high school dropout.

Which is not to say that they’re free from the consequences of their actions.  Compassion doesn’t exclude consequences.  Those consequences being incarceration or maybe even death if they confront someone who is capable and willing to defend themselves.

So I don’t know.  I don’t have answers.  Or the “answers” I do have are more about some long term societal trends that aren’t likely to occur.  It takes crises to make us change and then it’s not always for the best.

I’m just getting some thoughts out and trying to explore the ground between the unproductive extremes.  I’ll probably be editing this long after I post it.

So if you’re confused as to what my political point is … good.

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