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A Good Guy With A Gun

So a “good guy with a gun” decides to save the day when he witnesses a car jacking. He fired several shots, managing to land only one shot at the victim’s head and missing the carjackers completely.

Our hero then proceeded to collect his shell casings and fled the scene. Police are still looking for our ammosexual hero.

So my question now would be, is he still a “good guy”? How do you tell the difference?

Followers of this blog and of my facebook page know that I’m not a fan of anecdotal evidence because it’s meaningless. So why am I posting this story? Because this anecdotal story lines up perfectly with the data, as well as a couple of experiments done to see how effective armed citizens are at saving the day with their binkies.

Remember when a pro-gun group repeatedly reenacted the Charlie Hebdo shootings with all of the victims armed? SPOILER ALERT: they all died in every reenactment they did. Well, except for the one time one of the armed victims chose to flee instead. That guy survived the reenactment. All of the Rambos died over and over again, but their ammosexual fantasies of being heroes were impervious to the evidence and survived.

Another simulation done by researchers at Mount St Mary’s University produced the same results.

Study after study after study (I can do this all day, but you get the point) show that owning a gun makes you much more likely to be a shooting victim. Or a perpetrator, since you’re more likely to shoot yourself or someone you know with your gun, than you are to stop crime.

The FBI reports an average of about 25o “justifiable homicides” each year. Remember, George Zimmerman was recorded as a “justifiable homicide”, but I’m willing to go with the 250 number. So for 250 instances of people defending themselves, we have the highest homicide rate in the developed world. For 250 instances of people defending themselves,we have about 1,000 children shot every year.

In order to entertain the ammosexual hero fantasies of about 35 million American households, we have a situation where those nutters are feeding the “illegal” gun market. We know that the size of the “legal” gun market and the “illegal” gun market are inextricably intertwined since all guns start out “legal”.

We accept the unacceptable because a minority of us are literally deluding ourselves. I’m sorry to break it to you ammosexual, but you’re not Rambo and you never will be. You’re much more likely to be the sad sack who shoots their toddler in the face. The studies are very clear on this.

Here’s the funny thing. When I was fact checking the story I started this post with, my search came up with another story of another carjacking, also in Houston. This one was only a little over a month before the first story. In this story, the ammosexual was the guy whose car was being jacked. He decided that it would be a good idea to open fire on the carjacker. Wanna know how it ended? With both the carjacker and the ammosexual receiving freedom bullets, and the car wrapped around a cement post. Awesome. Thankfully, no one else was caught in the crossfire.

Does pulling out your binkie and firing off rounds to save your fucking car make you a good guy? It’s a car. You’re shooting at a person, and risking the accidental shooting of other people. For a car.

We don’t have “good guys” with guns. We have delusional “dumb guys” with guns. If they were smart, they would have done unbiased research on whether owning a gun was a good idea before making that choice. The evidence is clear, and you can’t possibly hang your hat on a handful of debunked NRA “studies” because you like what they’re telling you. The ratio of studies telling you that guns are awesome are roughly in the same proportion to legitimate studies, as the “cigarettes are awesome” studies were to those legitimate studies. When the ratio is 10 or 20 studies to 1, telling you that gun ownership is a bad idea, you’re not “responsible” by definition.

That’s how you present an anecdotal story. It has to be accompanied by data, otherwise you’re doing it wrong and you’re deliberately disinformning yourself.

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My Disdain For Your Proselytizing

You may have heard about this, but the Pope is coming to town and many “Christian” politicians in the US aren’t happy about it. I’ve been posting memes and news articles over the past day or so, pointing out the irony of the fact that (some) atheists respect and revere this Pope more than (some) Catholics do.

These posts came with a slew of comments that I found irritating. Some took the opportunity to present a history lesson about the Catholic Church, as if supporting this Pope indicates an ignorance of history. Here’s the deal; if you can’t separate your feelings about the Catholic Church from your thoughts on this Pope, you need to work on your critical thinking. This Pope, in the context of the Papacy is Bernie freaking Sanders.

Here are some quotes from Pope Frank on the dreaded gay:

“If they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them?”

“Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person? We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy.”

Pope Francis took the initiative to set up tribunals to look at that pesky pedophile problem the church has had for (at least) decades. Is anything going to come from them? I don’t know, but doing anything to address this issue is a giant leap froward from denying that the issue exists at all.

He’s spoken on women’s issues including equal pay (he’s for it) and “reconciliation and forgiveness” for women who have had abortions. Is that last part awesome? No, I personally don’t believe that making the choice to have an abortion is something that one must seek “forgiveness” for, but I acknowledge that he’s moving the church forward on this issue. Is he interested in female clergy? No but for fucks sake, he’s still a Catholic. I’ll take the baby steps.

He’s fucking awesome on the issue of unregulated capitalism and the toxicity that creates.

I don’t need to conflate the issues I agree with him on, with the areas where I vehemently disagree with him (and the church) in order to easily dismiss the obviously improved rhetoric of this Pope. He’s the first Pope in my lifetime who isn’t absolutely loathsome. He actually seems like a lovely person, embracing some of the best parts of Christianity, rather than wagging the old testament in the world’s face as all of his predecessors all did.

Acknowledging (and thereby encouraging) the fact that this Pope is moving things in the right direction isn’t the same thing as converting to Catholicism and suddenly condoning everything that makes up its colored history. If my acknowledgement of the changes that are happening today prompts you to assume that I need a history lesson, I would say that you need a lesson in critical thinking. I know that distilling everything down to black or white is easier for you, but that’s just not how I roll.

If you don’t acknowledge and encourage progress, there’s no reason for anyone to ever evolve.

The other comments I got were from militant atheists deriding and ridiculing Catholics. To you I say, stfu. I don’t need you proselytizing your lack of faith, anymore than I need anyone else proselytizing their religion to me.

The vitriol and intolerance of other people’s beliefs is as repugnant to me as any organized religion. The unmitigated arrogance of believing you have it all figured out, and that everyone else is a fool is indistinguishable between religious zealots and atheists. You’re all doing the same thing, and you see past your own zealotry.

Proselytizing is proselytizing, whether you’re proselytizing a religion or your disdain for religion.

I fall on the side of encouraging people to believe whatever the hell they choose to believe. It’s a free country, and I’m not the kind of dick who feels the need to belittle people for what they believe. Just keep it to yourself. The proselytizing is where you lose me.

Faith is personal, as should the lack of faith be.

You don’t have it all figured out anymore than a Catholic, Muslim, Jew, or Buddhist does. And I can’t tell the difference between the arrogance of foisting one’s religion on others and the arrogance of actively mocking religion. It’s all arrogance, and it’s all based on choice more than fact.

I hate to break it to you, but you can’t call yourself a liberal if you’re intolerant of people who believe something that differs from your beliefs. If it’s not effecting you in any way at all, you have no business dictating to anyone what they should or shouldn’t believe. The line is crossed when someone’s beliefs are being used to oppress or abuse anyone else. That’s when a liberal should speak up. But to chime in on a post about the Pope in order to deride all Catholics, makes you the opposite of a liberal. You are not liberal in your thought, and you’re not liberal with your heart.

All Catholics are not rubes, nor are they obsessed with beating you over the head with their faith. Wanna see an example of two inspiring and lovely people of faith? Here you go (I promise you won’t regret watching both videos all the way through);

 

If you can’t see for yourself how faith gives some people comfort and purpose, I feel sorry for you. Your mind is closed. You don’t need to have faith in anything to acknowledge that for some, there’s value in their faith.

Did you notice that I never espoused my own personal views on faith or religion in this post? That’s because I understand that the only purpose of my beliefs is to get me through this life. That’s the only purpose for anyone’s belief. My beliefs die with me, and I don’t need to get people to agree with me in order to validate my beliefs. I don’t need them validated. They serve me, and they need not serve anyone else.

So please stop with the proselytizing. No one wants to hear it.

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Understanding Syria

I’ve had a slew of incredibly ignorant comments on my Facebook page regarding Syria lately. The stupid has ranged from “the west started the civil war” to, “you know that Putin is helping Assad and that’s bad, right?” That last one took the cake because that was 18 layers of ignorant to not only how the war started, but what the US’s interests are at this very moment. And in each instance of ignorance, I posed one simple question which was left unanswered 100% of the time: What started the Syrian civil war?

If you can’t answer that question, you have no freaking idea what’s going on or how to deal with it. So I thought this was a good time to lay out the basics and explain how we got here. The original cause for the Syrian civil war is a pivotal point here. No, it didn’t start as a sectarian war. No, the CIA and MI6 didn’t covertly start that was because destabilizing the middle east even further is in anyone’s interest. Putin likewise, had nothing to do with starting that war.

The Syrian civil war started because of a drought. That’s right, the Syrian civil war is the first of the climate change wars we’re going to see more and more more of in the coming decades. Syria had been experiencing extreme drought conditions since 2006. It wasn’t just Syria, much of the middle east was suffering through drought conditions. As a result, wheat prices skyrocketed, leaving many people in rural areas with no food. Assad being Assad, responded to the drought with greed, rather than with practical solutions to improve irrigation methods or a focus resources in a way that would mitigate the effects of the drought. He allocated resources to growing wheat (which is a very water-intensive crop to grow) because he wanted to cash in on the skyrocketing market value of wheat. This drove Syrians out of their farms (where 75% of farmers suffered total crop failure) into the big cities. That migration represented 1.5 million Syrians moving to cities who didn’t have the resources to accommodate such a large influx of people. And remember, Syria had already been taking in large numbers of refugees from the Iraq war we started.

So we created total fucking chaos next door to Syria, and then the drought left the Syrian people starving. This was a perfect storm for ISIS and gave them the opportunity to ad an “IS” to the only “IS” they were at that point. Please take a moment to read an article I wrote detailing the genesis of ISIS before you read on. They were (at the time of the start of the Syrian civil war known as “the Islamic State”. That was not their first name, and 2006 is not when they formed. But the instability in Syria gave them an opening to add “Iraq and Syria” (the second “IS”) to the name of their terrorist group. Syria did seek help from the UN, who refused to give them a mere $60 million dollars in food aid to alleviate the starvation. Does anyone think that would have been a good investment?

The Syrian people were already very interested in removing Assad from power because he left them starving. ISIS was able to exploit that desire by providing them arms with which to fight Assad. Make no mistake about this; ISIS has money. They have very wealthy funders in Saudi Arabia and they have oil revenue from the oil fields they control in Iraq. They came into Syria with guns and food a’blazing. When you’re starving, anyone who has food and an alternative to your current situation seems to be the solution to your problems. Kind of like Hezbolla in Lebanon. Every time Israel levels Lebanon and leaves it in shambles, Hezbolla is there to “take care” of the people. When you create a vacuum, you can’t complain about whatever comes in to fill that vacuum.

So now the west is left with deciding what it can live with more: Assad or ISIS. The US has decided that Assad is preferable. Europe is on board with that assessment. No one thinks that Assad is awesome, but we can all agree that Assad is less destructive than ISIS. Turkey and some factions in Saudi Arabia disagree. I have no earthly idea why Turkey is taking this position, other than the fact that their current prime minister, Tayyip Erdogan is a fundamentalist whackadoodle who would like to take that country back 1000 years. Saudi Arabia is in it to fuck Iran. Both are being incredibly stupid, since ISIS is already operating inside Saudi Arabia and won’t stop until they take over the entire middle east. So watch out Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Jordan, and eventually Israel. It won’t be long before you’re sidling up to Iran and asking their army to fight along side yours.

So Putin is now sending Russian fighter jets into Syria (in addition to the arms they’ve always been selling Assad) to help the Assad regime hold on to power. Contrary to the dullard who thought this was something to be worried about, the US wants this. Guess who else wants this? Germany. Having as many allies in there to do the heavy lifting as possible is a good thing for US interests.

That’s not to say that I believe that keeping Assad in power is a good long term strategy. It’s obviously not, since his shitty leadership skills are in great part, what got us here in the first place.

Do I have a winning long term strategy in mind? Nope. There are too many moving parts, most of which are in direct conflict with each other. And since I’m not fond of rectally generating opinions in order to sound smart, I’m going to be smart by telling you that I have no answers. I have answers to many things, including how this whole thing started and how it unfolded to get us to this place, but I don’t know how to solve this problem.

What I do know is that some of us are going to have plenty of opportunities to spit on refugees from all around the world in the coming decades. There are going to be hundreds of millions more of them from all around the world as climate change leaves them starving.

So buckle up Mike Huckabee, because millions more are on their way to get your cable, you heartless and ignorant piece of shit.

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