Shooting oneself in the foot

You’ll notice that I didn’t do anything to commemorate excuse to slide into a dystopian police state day oops sorry I meant 9/11. Insert quote about safety and liberty here.

Moving on then!

Today’s news brought me this item about a teacher accidentally shooting herself in the leg. Last week a college professor shot himself in the foot.

Now just to review. I support the right of responsible people to own guns. I think most “gun control” laws rest on the faulty premise that someone who intends to break one law will inexplicably follow another law. I realize this puts me in in the minority among liberals. I think we perhaps need better enforcement of the laws we already have on the books. I think reasonable measures should be taken to make sure that guns aren’t legally in the hands of crazy people and known criminals, but I know that’s harder than it sounds.

Another bit of review, I’ve stated several times that things in a school should as a general thing be safe and educational, with a bunch of latitude given where needed. I can’t imagine how a reasonable person could possibly disagree with the basic principle.

So then, I’ve been trying pretty hard to think of a way it is possible for a teacher/professor to carry a weapon such that it is both secure to prevent possible injury to students and available for use in an emergency situation. Hip carry? Too much chance a student could get hold of it. Concealed carry? Well, you see what has already happened twice this school year and it’s not even the third week of September. Locked in the desk? Yeah, just ask the Bad Guy to wait while you unlock that desk, professor, great plan. Perhaps some of the more firearm literate readers can think of a way to secure the weapon such that nobody gets accidentally shot but Bad Guys can be intentionally shot.

So yeah, I think gun-toting teachers are a really bad idea.

In Closing: walk it off; I still think Zero Tolerance is a bad idea with unintended consequences; test results; even crazy people get sick; “man” up, but not too damn much; preach on, Comrade; and this is a problem why?

At the risk of saying something offensive…

Ok, let’s all take a deep breath. In case you don’t know what happened in Santa Barbara yesterday, start here. Like Comrade Misfit, I will not glorify this man above his victims by naming him. Other people have done some terrific commentary, and a few have really stuffed their feet into their mouths as far as they would go.

So let me start by getting a bit obnoxious here for just a moment: How big a jackass did he have to be to be a rich kid in a BMW who still couldn’t get a date? Ponder that for a few minutes.

But seriously, I’d like to talk to all those guys who have some sympathy for Creepy BMW Murderer Guy. You might learn something that might help you actually interact with females.

Nobody owes you sex. Certainly, no “hot chicks” owe you sex.  This may surprise you. Somebody wiser than me pointed out that the Declaration of Independence says your inalienable rights only include the right to pursue happiness, not to catch it.

Indeed, women are human beings. They have their own desires, thoughts, and ambitions which may or may not include sex with you. They are not life sized sex robots that only exist for your pleasure and fantasies (such things do exist, and if you can’t change your ways of thinking, we are all probably better off if you bought one). Again, this could be surprising.

You will probably find that if you treat women like human beings rather than sex robots, your chances of spending time with one increase. You know, like you’d treat a man. With respect. Maybe a little humility. Perhaps give a complement. There’s a little zen thing going on here: think about things other than sex and you might actually have a chance at getting it.

Finally, there’s a lot of finger pointing here. And of course we are going to hear about how we have to “have a serious conversation about gun control” by the time everybody gets back to work. Once again I’d like to point out that the problem wasn’t the gun, but rather a batshit crazy man with a gun. And sadder yet? The same rules that kept the cops from forcibly getting him psychiatric help are the rules that prevent you or I from ending up in the happy home with no way out.

In Closing: Washington; climate change; if car seats were like vaccines; another study says what most people knew; another study shows what some people surely suspected; okay, okay, the NSA; whatever works, Logan; gridlock; more truth; and 29 beautiful beach pictures.

I know you’re out there somewhere.

I’m talking to the guy who decided to shoot at another motorist at a busy Vegas intersection during rush hour.

What the heck were you thinking? The cops still think it was probably a road rage thing: did he forget to signal? Maybe you were riding his freaking blind spot and he accidentally cut you off?

Maybe you thought you would just scare him. Well, he’ll never be scared again, because you killed him! Worse than that, he had two small children in the back seat. Thankfully, they were not hurt by your bullets — for pity sake, how many shots did you fire?? — nor by the subsequent crash into two other vehicles. That 2 year old boy and 3 year old girl got to watch their Daddy die. Somebody had to explain to their Mommy what had happened.

You gave no care to the fact that your bullets could have killed innocent people.

Those aren’t the only people you hurt that night either.  Thousands of motorists were detoured or otherwise delayed. Businesses were closed, their employees unpaid for hours they couldn’t work. Small sacrifices by comparison, but still.

You, sir, are a disgrace to gun owners. You obviously have anger management issues and no grasp of even the most basic gun safety rules. Asshats like you give ammunition to those who think we need more gun control laws, even though I think it’s a coin-flip whether you have yours legally. I don’t like the fact that people with as little judgement as you are in my community, perhaps even on the same road as me.

I know they’re going to find you. I don’t know where they’re going to find an unbiased jury.

In Closing: full of hot air and bacteria; and their kids pay the price; I’m only linking it because it’s correct; a variety of items on poverty, safety net programs and their impact, income inequality, corporate money stupidity; etc.; some bonus NSA links; they’ve got this backwards — Medicare [for All] can save the Affordable Care Act; everybody wins when kids can learn at their own pace; and the unsung hero of the medical device world.

ZOMG! He’s Asking About the Future!

My local news channel decided to cover some information about the Arapahoe High School Shooter, specifically using this “chilling” — that’s Channel 8’s descriptor, not mine — quote:

During a 2010 9NEWS town hall style debate, the then-freshman was selected from the audience to ask a question.

“What would you like your legacy to be,” Pierson asked.

Concerned about his own legacy even then, he told friends he had big future plans that were centered around his passion for speech and debate.

Right. So let me make sure I’ve got this right. Every kid who plans for the future might be planning something sinister for the future? Do we lock them up, maybe get them mandatory counseling so they won’t worry about planning for the future any more?? See, the thing that confuses me is that I’ve been told since I was 12 that “winners” and “successful people” have goals they work towards, perhaps even seeking to leave a “legacy” behind in the world. Does that make Napoleon Hill a subversive writer? What about Paul J. Meyer?

What about kids who “had very strong beliefs about gun laws and stuff”? Should we lock them up? Do we need a suicide watch on any student thrown off a school team? Is attending Bible meetings a warning sign?

It’s easy to force pieces into a puzzle when you know what it looks like at the end. Human brains are built for pattern recognition. “In retrospect, there were warning signs.” Sure, warning signs that would apply to millions of people who do not bring a weapon to school with the intent of killing someone.

Many thanks to all those who made this incident as short as possible with few victims. Let’s stop glorifying murder now, shall we?

Things I learned


Last night, I completed my first semester of for credit college classes in a couple decades. Over the next few days, I will be sharing a few of the things that I have learned. Let’s start with generalities:

  • This is the sort of college where “admissions requirements” are pretty much “has a valid credit card.” As a result, there is a great variety of students: the fresh out of high school; the “holy crap my parents were right years ago when they told me I needed more education” crowd; more than a few recently discharged Veterans of varying ages; people embarking on an Xth career; etc.. In some ways, the place is remarkably like a less-funny episode of Community.
  • Some have the drive to succeed, and some just don’t. Some have the desire, but not the skill set. Some have the desire, but life gets in the way.
  • An alarming number of my classmates have woefully inadequate reading skills. That is despite the fact that free reading (and math) placement exams are available, and there are plenty of opportunities to improve one’s skills. Without the ability to quickly read and understand things like textbooks, assignments, and tests, a student is doomed.
  • Not surprisingly, the parking lot was much emptier the last week of class than the first week.
  • The irregular attendance of some of my classmates baffles me. They all paid good money for this class; you would think they would at least try to maximize their chance of passing!
  • Not all counseling departments are created equal. Some are there to get you the help you need — this is partly a matter of self-preservation, since that makes the student more likely to continue to pay tuition. Others are there to point out hoops that need to be jumped, come back when you’re done.

Next, we talk about my classes.

In Closing: book; or, we could admit that something that needs wheels is by definition not a carry on; or, we could enforce existing law; yeah I remember those days; blood pressure; what?; is this going to be what reins in drones?; 97% of scientists agree; and truth… Truthdogg.

Medical Problem: the Law of Supply and Demand is Still in Effect

As we all know, all too soon we Americans will be required to purchase health insurance from the highly profitable corporations that got us into the health insurance “reform” debacle. Even people who should know better think we just have to have mandatory insurance to abolish pre-existing conditions because after all “people would buy insurance on the way to the hospital!” Clearly people who can say this with a straight face have never attempted to purchase health insurance.

Here’s the problem, as Massachusetts has already found out. All those newly insured people? They are going to want value for their money! They are going to want to see a doctor! We already have a physician shortage — which is being made worse by Baby Boomer retirements. Nevada has had a shortage for a decade, and it’s not getting better (don’t get me started).

Now there is news that — officially — it’s not going to get better for at least 4 years. It seems that even though medical schools are churning out doctors, those newly degreed docs with six figures of student loan debt sometimes can’t find residency programs! No residency, no full license, no insurance reimbursement, no job as a doctor. What a waste. Gee, your doc doesn’t seem so greedy now that you know what bills he’s facing, does he?

Want to bring down medical costs?  You’d better find a way to make more doctors, more ways to train them, and better ways to pay for their education.

In Closing: a couple comics; the cat film festival will return for a second year; oh well then I’ll just try not to look like a dissident; if anybody finds any follow-up on FPS Russia, please let me know; oh the things musicians will argue about; and duh.

Music Monday: Happy New Year


In Closing: My new favorite blog; disgraceful; AC saves lives; damned if he doesn’t sound reasonable; no deal may well be better than a bad deal, but it doesn’t matter because there will be no vote tonight; yeah, that does sound kinda dumb when you put it that way; Baby Boomer Nuns; they wouldn’t be there if they could farm it legally; we never had a chance; even a broken clock is right twice a day; and somebody must write a sci-fi epic based on this picture.

I’m sure it seemed like a good idea at the time

USA Today tells us that thanks to patient surveys, hospitals are kissing our butts:

Special air-blowing vests keep patients warm pre-surgery. Private rooms are the norm. Staffers regularly check in with patients to anticipate their toilet and showering needs to cut down on call-light usage. Patients are given clear discharge instructions. Cleaning is no longer done at night. Patients are taught the difference between “pain-free” and “pain-controlled.”


Amenities such as free lattes and valet parking are not new to hospitals. They began offering them years ago in a high-stakes fight to lure patients. However, what hospitals are doing now is, for the most part, tailored to the survey questions they know patients will be asked.


“The problem is America is a free-market economy,” [Rajesh Balkrishnan of the University of Michigan] said. “We need to give patients a way to speak on what they think about health care, what works for them, how health care professionals work for them, because those factors go into determining whether treatments are successful.”

I don’t think any of us have a problem with the idea that they are trying to make a hospital stay a more pleasant experience. It’s hard to recover from whatever when there is too much noise to rest, for example. It’s great that staff is making a better effort at explaining what’s going to happen. Anticipating needs? Well that is mighty fine customer service. However, I think now we are starting to go too far.

For one thing, who the heck is paying for these valets, lattes, and pre-surgery warming vests? In the end, you and I are through higher premiums and taxes. Could we perhaps make do with a clean blankie and a coffee maker?

Second, all this nonsense loses sight of Reality. In Reality, people choose a hospital based on two factors and only two factors: What hospital will my insurance company pay for? or What hospital is closest to the site of the accident? The overwhelming majority of people don’t have the luxury of saying “General Hospital has a better record of surgical outcomes” or “St. Elsewhere has free espresso drinks!” Let’s stop pretending that any of this is considered by Joe and Jane Average when Joe’s having chest pain.

Speaking of Reality, I understand that Obamacare means more insured patients means more demand for physician services. But where exactly does Stacy think she’s going to find doctors for that medical office space she’s trying to rent out?

In Closing: it would be nice if reporters would actually read scientific studies before telling us what they say; light up crosswalks; they had to get water from somewhere; college readiness may be more than academic skills; some taxes are going up regardless of what gets decided about the fiscal cliff (at this point I’m mighty tempted to say let’s just go there and watch the backpedaling); OBEY; and the ultimate helicopter parents.

Gridlock and Opportunity

The next session of Congress is either going to be complete gridlock, or an era of great bi-partisanship. I say this based on this chart from Nate Silver. In case you’ve forgotten, that’s Nate “the man who got all the numbers right when everybody else got them horribly wrong” Silver:


Let me point out the obvious. It takes 218 votes to get most things done in the House of Representatives. Neither the mainstream Republicans nor the Democrats (with or without the Blue Dog crowd) have those votes. The Tea Party has become a de-facto third party. To get anything done, there will have to be a coalition and/or a compromise: either between the two parties, or with the Tea Partiers. This should be obvious to both Mr. Boehner and Ms. Pelosi. The President already said it out loud. As Mr. Silver points out, on this and pretty much every bill in the next session, Mr. Boehner “will need to win the support of at least some liberal Democrats. And a bill that wins the support of some liberal Democrats will be an even harder sell to Mr. Boehner’s Republicans. For each vote that he picks up from the left, he could risk losing another from his right flank.”

Nobody knows if the glass is half-empty or half-full. Was Mr. Boehner’s ill-named “Plan B” a symptom of his increasing irrelevance, or an attempt to enter a Post- Norquist political world? Will the 113th Congress be a more sane and bi-partisan body, or a place where the right hand and the left hand quite literally don’t know what the other is doing? Let’s hope for sanity.

In Closing: military research saving lives on battlefields and eventually on American streets; why re-invent public education with things we aren’t even sure work when we can just crib off Massachusetts?; yeah, it turns out there were good guys with guns at Columbine and it didn’t help (at least the good guys didn’t injure more students); and maybe this deserves more thought.

Music Bonus: Apocalypse Someday

Happy Solstice! Since you are reading this, it would appear that the world did not in fact end today.


Have some bonus links about Christmas.

In Closing: TSA; diet and diabetes; I bet we could create some jobs building and repairing infrastructure (nah, that costs money!); political suicide; don’t confuse us with facts; and how nuts do you have to be to get fired from Al Qaeda?