The same day, if I recall correctly, I also got a pleasant little surprise from Irregular Webcomic! (again, the exclamation point is part of the title and not just a display of my enthusiasm).
Incidentally, Comic #3444 was released the day after this (new ones are published twice a week and reruns on all other days), so "little comic" was a bit of unwarranted modesty.
So... women in all the military combat positions... I'm just going to say straight up that I'm not comfortable with it because I'm extremely sexist and I don't like the thought of women being shot and blown up and getting PTSD and stuff. Of course, in an ideal world, no one would be shot or blown up or get PTSD and stuff, but according to my understanding, setting aside politics or religion or culture or anything, males are naturally meant to be the fighters because we're far more expendable from a reproductive standpoint (1 man + 10 women = 10 babies; 1 woman + 10 men = 1 baby). Of course, this particular fact is largely moot in today's world because most people aren't polygamists, but our evolutionary background always remains influential long after circumstances have changed. With the way we've evolved I don't think it's natural (I was going to add "or healthy" but fighting isn't really healthy for anyone) for women to fight. There's my two cents even though I'm not an expert and nobody asked me anyway. If it's offensive, sorry not sorry.
"But Christopher," you may in fairness ask, "just a couple weeks ago you said the gender dynamics of dating need to equalize, yet those are rooted in evolution as well. What gives?" The difference in that case is that the changes will benefit women instead of enabling them to be shot and blown up and get PTSD and stuff. I evaluate these things on a case-by-case basis. Evolution doesn't rule everything. Even in this case, I'm trying to focus on the bright side. ISIS won't flinch, of course - they'll probably relish the opportunity to punish American women for not keeping their faces covered - but maybe some of our other enemies will be dissuaded by this new development. Their soldiers are people too. Maybe they'll be like, "I didn't sign up to shoot women. I quit." And then some feminist will be like, "Hey! I'm just as good as you! Come back here and shoot me, you misogynistic, patronizing @#$%!"
Salt Lake City has decided to give Planned Parenthood a Human Rights award. Yes, the same Planned Parenthood that kills hundreds of thousands of humans every year and gets 86% of its revenue from doing so. I'm sure that makes sense in some alternate universe somewhere.
Since I feel like I'm criticizing people and organizations all the time, I decided I should be humble and acknowledge that I do/say stupid things too. Behold:
Now I'm going to copy-paste this entire thing from my genius friend Tristan McKnight, because it's so good.
I want to borrow an idea from my wise friend Brady, who says "Before you can decide if you need changes, you have to decide if the outcome is acceptable." As we dance around the topic of gun and terrorist violence yet again, he suggests we look at the outcomes, and then decide if we are OK with those outcomes. Only then can people have rational discussions about change. Perhaps I'm delusional, but I fancy myself as being fairly reasonable, educated, and having a mix of liberal and conservative beliefs and behaviors. If we can't solve this problem, then who can? So I want to share some of my thoughts, and then invite reasoned responses. Don't even think about just sharing that Onion article.
So. I am not happy with our current outcome. I know the world will never be perfect, but too many people are dying and too many lives are being ruined. This is not how I'd like to describe my ultimate dream home. I am ok with some ongoing terrorism as a cost of our freedom-- I will accept that whackos will murder a few thousand poor souls a decade rather than subscribe to a police state that would exclude that possibility. Remember Stanley Baldwin's axiom: "the bomber will always get through".
As Nick Kristof said: "Not every shooting is preventable. But we’re not even trying. When we tackled drunken driving, we took steps like raising the drinking age to 21 and cracking down on offenders. That didn’t eliminate drunken driving, but it saved thousands of lives." Instead of asking what specific law would have prevented yesterday's attack, the correct question is, "what specific laws would *reduce the prevalence of* events like yesterday?" (Thanks Doug for hosting the conversation that brought up these ideas.) Perhaps yesterday's attackers did everything legally and never showed signs of mental health problems and are the perfect incarnation of pure evil. That happens sometimes. But one such person is not what's causing 9000 deaths a year. That number comes from lots of individuals, some of whom might be preventable. That's why I say I'm fine with allowing *some* terrorism instead of chasing total exclusion.
We've all heard the old trope that 'guns don't kill people, people kill people'. It's frequently used in fallacious arguments (such as in analogy to drunk drivers and cars), but there is an element of truth there: the root of the matter does lie with the people behind the trigger. I think part of our problem is simply demography: the human ape evolved to live in small bands; cramming thousands and millions of people (and their ideas) together lowers the boiling point of social disease so tempers flare more easily and incidents are more prone to happen. Learning to overcome this behavioral wiring is a hard task, something society has been working on for thousands of years, since Hammurabi's Code and beyond. Suddenly putting weapons of mass destruction in everybody's hands (I'm not talking about nukes-- an AR-15 would fall under that classification to even the most battle-hardened Assyrian warrior) has brought this social failing to the fore.
That's why I don't accept the NRA's simplistic solution-- i.e., everyone get a gun so you can defend yourself! Why would I want to turn back the clock to the Wild West or the Dark Ages (same, but with swords)? Haven't we evolved past that? Let me keep some hopes and dreams for my species.
So what does the left have to offer? I don't buy the simplistic rhetoric that involves name-dropping some model developed nation and then saying "they've solved it, why can't we". Everybody's unique, and those countries are so different I don't know how useful they are. America is a gigantic, heterogeneous young nation with a huge and burgeoning population and aspirations to be free and democratic. Australia is a common example-- but they have such an incredibly low population (and pop density) that they're really an irrelevant outlier. Our European brothers and sisters live at high population densities, but I think their tiny countries and very bloody histories have made their populations easier to bend today. Russia and China are big, and statistically have better rates than us, but they don't know how to curb violence without being totalitarian (and rampant corruption means there is no real rule of law anyway so many crimes go unreported). India and Brazil are also big and have fairly low gun problem rates, but have enough compensatory violences (especially rape) that I'm leery to prop them up as an example of peaceful resolution. So there's no easy solution to be found by copy-and-pasting another country's legal code. That doesn't mean we can't adapt some of their principles, though!
Regulations like background checks, mental health requirements, ammo registries and whatnot would help somewhat. I understand some wariness because they could easily become tools to force compliance in an Orwellian state. Let's get this out of the way: gun owners talking about hunting and sport are red herrings-- those are great, but the second amendment is written so the citizenry can fight off evil tyranny. Whether that's an individual right or an organized militia right is a valid concern, but for the time being the Supreme Court has ruled that it's individual. (Of course, Bambi-blasting Winchesters vs F-22s isn't a very fair fight, and we've squelched all attempts to secede 'legally' in our history, but it is still possible...) Don't slip into the lazy ideology that "Oh, NRA supporters are just insane." No-- the difference between conservatives and liberals isn't that one group is 'smart' and the other is 'nuts', it's how much weight you give to competing real concerns (such as security vs freedom). But in theory, a democracy should be able to decide which crimes and aberrant behaviors justify curtailing civil rights without slipping into dystopia. So background checks and the like could clean up some low-lying fruit. Let's do that. Lawmakers: how about instead of going home for the holidays, you sit down, ignore the election (that's still 11 months away!), make sausage, and pass a bill? That'd be a better Christmas present than anything you're planning on doing.
What about the higher apples? The ones the gun lobby use to try and shut down any discussion: "Outlawing guns would just mean that criminals are the only ones with guns, durr... And knife violence would go up!" Well, sadly, they're probably right.
Frankly, from a purely practical standpoint, I don't see how we even can clear our slate to start anew. There are 300 million guns in this nation. 300 million! That's a hundred times as many as Australia had! They reduced their gun level by 20%-- which means if we did the same cut we'd still have 240 million (!) guns in America. Liberals don't dare use the "i" word, but I see zero way to get control of that many guns without 1984esque impounding or sparking a civil war. For a recent example, look at how well New York's 2013 SAFE law panned out. [Interpolation: A large majority of gun owners have simply ignored this law and there's nothing Prince Andrew can do about it.] This is another reason why suggesting background checks as a fix-all salvation doesn't add up-- with that many guns in circulation, you *can* always get one if you want it, and the life expectancy of steel means even if we banned all sales tomorrow, we'll still have millions upon millions of guns... for decades. It also means we can't do a real buy-back program without seriously reworking our budget. (Don't get me wrong: reworking our budget would be awesome! But it won't happen easily. We're a nation that still somehow thinks it should increase military spending!)
So I'm left with the people again. *Ending* gun violence won't happen unless you can change the way people think-- either by rendering guns obsolete technology (someone discover the Holtzman effect so we can invent shields!) or by helping humans learn to get along without wanting to terminate each other (e.g., Anti-Nephi-Lehites, or Zion, or if you're non-Christian how about post Zefram Cochrane era Earth?). But as the Cold War should have taught us, it's not like we can only choose between black or white. Russians and Americans didn't need to dance the maypole dance together with flowers in their hairs-- they just needed to step away from the cliff of MAD. If we could reduce gun deaths by a measly 10 percent, that would still be three to nine lives saved every day. Isn't that worth something? It's not an ending, but it may be a beginning.
That's all I've got for now.
Christmas in the Stars - "Sleigh Ride" and "What Can You Get a Wookiee for Christmas (When He Already Owns a Comb)?
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Philippe Renaux - "Ave Maria de Schubert" and "Anges Dans Nos Campagnes"
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