Archive for December, 2012

Merry Holiday

December 25, 2012 - 10:38 pm 9 Comments

And to all the good things that mean so much to people around the globe: being able to make light in darkness, having things that are still green in winter, having surplus food in winter/the dry season, and having friends and family that like you enough to share food and fuel with you if you don’t happen to.

Merry “fuck you planet, you’re not going to kill us this year”.


December 21, 2012 - 6:17 pm 9 Comments



National Review: Newtown Shooting Fault of Women

December 20, 2012 - 8:39 pm 11 Comments

Because with all the back and forth of “it was GUNS that killed the children” vs. “it was MENTAL ILLNESS that killed the children” vs. “it was THE MEDIA that killed the children*”, it’s certainly… novel… to see a mass murder blamed on basically every woman involved as a change of pace.

Here we go.

Like most people, I’ve been thinking and thinking about the Sandy Hook massacre. I’ve even pored over a map of the school and its killing sites — and studied a timeline of the incident, which appears to have unfolded over about 20 minutes. I have three observations:

These observations do not include “once somebody who’s never done anything to get themself locked up decides they’re going to kill a whole bunch of soft targets, generally it’s very easy for that person to do so for purely logistic reasons”. Neither is “elementary aged children are really easy to kill if you have no moral or empathetic objection to doing so”.

There was not a single adult male on the school premises when the shooting occurred. In this school of 450 students, a sizeable number of whom were undoubtedly 11- and 12-year-old boys (it was a K–6 school), all the personnel — the teachers, the principal, the assistant principal, the school psychologist, the “reading specialist” — were female. There didn’t even seem to be a male janitor to heave his bucket at [redacted- scumbag’s] knees.

Actually, there was. He did something more useful than throwing buckets, i.e. shouting warnings.

Women and small children are sitting ducks for mass-murderers.

This reads as a strange dispatch from an alternate universe where mass murders in schools (and malls, and other “safe” places) have never happened before, or where all the others were stopped by random men on the scene. In the universe I inhabit, at Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, the University of Texas, and other mass murder scenes with mixed genders, the same thing happens to the unarmed men as the unarmed women and children: they get shot and maybe die. (Sometimes armed ones get shot too.)

The principal, Dawn Hochsprung, seemed to have performed bravely. According to reports, she activated the school’s public-address system and also lunged at [scumbag], before he shot her to death. Some of the teachers managed to save all or some of their charges by rushing them into closets or bathrooms.

A fuller accounting is in the article linked above re the custodian. The school psychologist died challenging the shooter too. One of the teachers died standing between the shooter and her class locked in the closet. (The article does not mention, but she did indeed manage to save some.)

The thing of it is, again in the universe where school shootings have happened before, the people who survive DO tend to be the ones that managed to successfully hide or escape, and the heroes in the wake DO tend to be those who help others do so, like Liviu Lebrescu. I’ve never heard anyone question his masculinity for doing exactly what the Newtown teachers tried to do, with varying degrees of success.

But in general, a feminized setting is a setting in which helpless passivity is the norm.

So we’re going to ignore all the women we just mentioned who displayed great courage trying the best way at hand to save their charges and sometimes gave their lives doing it in favor of a general where women are helpless and passive. Check.

Male aggression can be a good thing, as in protecting the weak — but it has been forced out of the culture of elementary schools and the education schools that train their personnel. Think of what Sandy Hook might have been like if a couple of male teachers who had played high-school football, or even some of the huskier 12-year-old boys, had converged on [scumbag].

…I’m going to snort at the apparent alternative to what the Newtown teachers did in “protecting the weak”, facepalm at the idea of a husky twelve year old boy being the savior of the day if only they weren’t so feminized, and note that again, this imaginary alternate scenario isn’t hypothetical and has already been run here on Earth. What happened was: they got shot and died, or they got lucky and hid or escaped. The only teacher killed at the Columbine massacre was an athletic coach. He was shot doing exactly what every other teacher we’ve mentioned did, or tried, to do: get their students to safety.

People, even unarmed people, need to fight back against criminals — because usually, no one else will. It took the police 20 minutes to arrive at Sandy Hook. By the time they got there, it was over. Cops and everybody else encourage civilians not to try to defend themselves when they are criminally assaulted. This is stupid advice. There are things you can do. Run is one of them, because most shooters can’t hit a moving target. The other, if you are in a confined space, is throw things at the killer, or try a tackle. Remember United Flight 93 on 9/11. It was a “flight of heroes” because a bunch of guys on that plane did what they could with what they had. They probably prevented the destruction of the White House or the Capitol.

The big difference between Flight 93 and any given mass shooting is that the passengers of 93 knew for a fact that they were dead no matter what happened. Either they were going to die in a plane crash, or they were going to die at the hands of the terrorists, and either way things were going to end for all of them in “plane crash”. It IS possible to survive a mass shooting, and the best way to do it if you aren’t armed (and training would help too), is… hide, or escape. If you want to save others: help them hide, or escape.

Look, I agree with the broad position that resistance is preferable to passivity, and especially that it would be great if a few teachers with the gumption for it and some solid extra training were allowed to carry, in the position the Newtown faculty were actually in at that moment? I would have done EXACTLY the same thing- because it was the likeliest way to actually save some children rather than distract the shooter and use up a few rounds, which would be the probable outcome of rushing him. Maybe if I could convince as many others to rush too… but that’s a pretty hard sell in that moment, to people who want to live and know they might.

There’s also a big difference, when you yourself are unarmed, between a box cutter and a firearm.

Parents of sick children need to be realistic about them. I know at least two sets of fine and devoted parents who have had the misfortune to raise sons who were troubled for genetic reasons beyond anyone’s control. Either of those boys could have been an [scumbag]. You simply can’t give a non-working, non-school-enrolled 20-year-old man free range of your home, much less your cache of weapons.

While I generally agree that if you’re aware your child is mentally ill and also aware that offspring is actually dangerous and merely hasn’t been arrested or committed yet, you should probably not have firearms in the house, the structure of this paragraph is really damn odd.

You have to set boundaries. You have to say, “You can’t live here anymore — you’re an adult, and it’s time for you to be a man. We’ll give you all the support you need, but we won’t be enablers.” Unfortunately, the idea of being an “adult” and a “man” once one has reached physical maturity seems to have faded out of our coddling culture.

…Yeah, sure, okay. The problem here wasn’t that he was that rare slice of mentally ill that was actually legitimately dangerous, the problem was that he lived with his mother. Because being told to man up would have fixed his problems, no mass murderer has ever lived on his own, and the most responsible thing to do if you KNOW your adult offspring is dangerous is to boot him from the house and turn him loose on society.

And with that bit of insanity, this exercise in “my worldview will fit every tragedy if I just shove it through hard enough” is at an end.

*My own position is that it was Colonel Mustard in the hall with the lead pipe. I do have a serious position, but it’s a fairly dull one that provides no useful answers or courses of action.

Science Update

December 18, 2012 - 6:30 pm 14 Comments

Just so we’re clear, we’re not dropping the hot dog bun thing. Unfortunately, they take a while to go properly stale. Gonna set up a pipeline this time.


December 14, 2012 - 7:51 pm 50 Comments

Another day, another mass shooting. Let’s get the checklist, hmm?

Hysterical media spewing anything in order to be first rather than right? Check.

Anti-gun groups drumming their worn-out blame-the-tool beat? Check.

Rabid chest-thumping NOT ON MY WATCH from the pro-gun side? Check.

Blog posts with token sympathy for the victims prefacing “HEY WE CAN MAKE THE PRO-GUN SIDE LOOK BETTER”? Check.

Interviews with weeping relatives where the media figure pretends as hard as they can to give a fuck? Well, it’s still early but I’m going to go out on a limb and check this one off too.

Congratulations, humanity. We’ve made mass-murder more formulaic than an episode of “Seinfeld.” If anybody needs me, I’ll just be over here assembling these cold-forged girders with cores of pure selenium.*

*And if you get the reference, you’re welcome to lend a hand. Just think of something cooler at the appropriate time than the last go round.

Just So You Know

December 11, 2012 - 12:49 am 12 Comments

Little Debbie brand hot dog buns are highly fire-resistant, at least when stale.

Further experiments to follow.

15 Questions For Atheists

December 7, 2012 - 12:42 am 42 Comments

Yeah, it’s gimmie content, that I basically borrowed from Ozy (whose own answers I will not read until I’ve hit publish lest I talk myself out of posting in the belief someone else had already said everything, which I’ve been doing way too much lately), but it’s content. And I haven’t stirred this particular pot in awhile.

So, from Loving Christ With Your Mind, 15 questions for atheists and their replies from this atheist.


Nerd Review: Taurus PT111-Pro

December 5, 2012 - 11:57 pm 16 Comments

Throughout the various forms of chaos swirling about the Nerd Ranch like a water buffalo on acid*, I finally got my hands on the Taurus PT111 Pro from the Kilted to Kick Cancer drive. I’m told you weird freaks wonderful folks are fond of my gun reviews, so since LabRat is back off in her “I forgot how the add new post button works” malaise, here we go.

This is the single most generic gun I have ever experienced. The slide should just say “A Gun” and be done with it. Were it not for the removable, refillable magazine, this gun would be the platonic ideal of Tam’s blister-pack gun. There isn’t a thing bad about this gun. There isn’t a thing good about this gun.

The sights are adequate. Rounds pretty much go where you point it. The trigger…. works. It’s not good, but it’s certainly not bad either. The grip is present and works as advertised. It has only had a few dozen rounds through it so far, but of those it went bang each time and a hole appeared in the target.

Seriously, from now on when someone be it in a movie or a clueless “helpful” person in real life utters something to the effect of “You wait here, I’m going to get A Gun(TM),” this heater is exactly what I’m going to picture in my head.

Don’t take this wrong, this is not a slam against the PT111. In fact it’s the closest thing to praise I can give it. A Gun(TM) is the perfect thing to throw in your fishing tackle box. It won’t matter if you have to use A Gun(TM), and the police hold on to it and/or “lose” it while vetting the shoot as good or not. A Gun(TM) will not be adversely affected in the notion of having it if the finish is beat to crap from sitting in your truck under the seat for six months. A Gun(TM) will in all probability that I can tell so far continue to go bang when you pull the trigger for Long Enough(C).

It’s small enough that you can comfortably carry A Gun(TM) all day in a variety of fashions without noticing it much, or having to join the Hawaiian Shirt Mafia.

Of the four shooters I’ve had try it, the primary objection to A Gun(TM) is that spent brass comes pretty much straight back, and for two of the four, this resulted in the brass boinking off the center of their foreheads. The other two shooters had no such problem, but in thinking about the sort of situation where you need A Gun(TM), odds are that brass problem won’t really be a problem.

If you are a Ninja, move along. This is not the gun for you. If you have aspirations to ninjahood…we probably don’t get along anyway so this still isn’t the gun for you. If, however, you consider that at some point you may find yourself thinking “Holy shit, I need A Gun(TM)!” and don’t want to go nuts obsessing over what gun that may be, or what bells and whistles it may have in addition to the ability to fling lead at things you want to stop doing things, this little ballistic grey man may be perfect.

*Overheard in the office while editing post: “I’d say change it to ‘chaos rampaging,’ because I don’t exactly envision water buffalo swirling.” “Exactly.” “….ok.”

Fun With Captcha

December 4, 2012 - 12:19 am 9 Comments

Apologies for the dearth of content lately. For awhile I was legitimately too busy to post regularly, but in that time period I seem to have fallen out of the habit, and more to the point ability, to write regularly. I spend a lot of time lately staring at an article or post or comment willing myself to have something to say about it, and failing spectacularly.

Well, the way I got into that skill the first time was by posting whether I damn well had anything to say really or not, and I suppose that will be how I get it back. So for today what you get is something I found on a random image site that kicked over my gigglebox for a good minute and a half. Hopefully it will do the same to you. If not hopefully there’ll be some other bit of contentless fluff tomorrow that may.