Tuesday, December 18, 2012

3689 Reaction 4

Thursday, December 18, 2012

"Obama is not a brown-skinned anti-war socialist
who gives away free health care. You're thinking of Jesus."


There's a lot of talk now about how we can prevent mass murders by doing a better job of identifying dangerously mentally ill people, getting them the help they need, and tracking them to ensure they don't have access to the means to do harm.

Oh, please.

My thoughts are going a dozen different directions on this.


I remember back in the '60s and '70s, before touchy-feely hippie attitudes spread into educated society, when it was ok for women to see a counselor, but absolutely taboo for any man, for any reason.  I heard guys say that to admit any problem was unmanly.  A real man handled his problems himself!  There was enormous resistance to any admission of weakness.  Not to mention that obviously anyone who visited a psychiatrist was automatically crazy, "and I'm not crazy".

It took a long time for that attitude to relax a little, and now parents will get their kids into counseling to help them to realize their full potential.  But if any government entity is going to start tracking those visits, poking around in diagnoses, making lists, tracking, that's going to stop immediately.  You don't want to find yourself or your children on some government list that could limit your choices for the rest of your life.  We've all heard the horror stories of social agencies gone overboard.  Do we really want to attract their attention?

So instead of people getting the help they need, I can see people choosing no help at all.


You don't always know when someone is a danger to themselves or others until something happens, and then it's too late.  It's not predictable.  So the tendency would be to err on the side of caution.  How do we avoid labeling someone as dangerous when actually they're not?


What is "sane"?  A working definition is "able to function in society".  Throw in a few words like "reasonable", "sound judgement", "free of mental illness" if you like.

It is my opinion that there is not one single person on the entire planet who has any life experience whatsoever who is completely sane.  Everybody has some hangups.  Everybody has some bent and broken parts.  No one is completely "reasonable", or always "exercises sound judgement".   We are all sightly nuts in one way or another.  We get away with it, though, because society itself is insane.  War, anyone?


I've never understood the legal concept of the insanity defense.  They figure that if you knew it was wrong, and especially if you planned it, then you weren't insane.  Frankly, that's crazy thinking.  Makes no sense.

I am of the opinion that anyone who purposely murders anyone else is insane.  By definition.  Period. There's something very wrong in their heads. How can you consider them sane?


Not all mass murders had a history of mental illness, by the way.

The Texas Towers sniper was, by all accounts, a nice solid guy who loved his wife and mother, whom he shot first, on his way to the tower. He'd had headaches for a while, and felt "wrong".  It turned out he had a brain tumor.  Nothing predictable there.

Almost every adolescent has at one time or another had some emotional crisis and contemplated suicide.  "I'll kill myself, and then they'll be sorry!"  Usually that's as far as it goes.  But sometimes, "Um, no, they won't even notice I'm gone."  Great idea - "I'll take others with me!  Then they sure WILL notice!  Everyone will notice.  They'll be sorry they picked on me/broke up with me/ignored me!"  Not a lot of predictable mental illness there, either.  Just normal teen angst gone overboard.

Nope.  Many perpetrators give no advance warning of the brewing storm.  So even if we pay more attention to cries for help, which itself is a good thing, we're deluding ourselves if we think it will fix this specific problem.  And that's insane.

3688 Reaction 3

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

"Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired."
-- Robert Frost --


So, gun control discussions are now on the front burner.  Again.  I suppose it might be a start to do something about those assault weapons (hey, Mr. Bush), but even that will be a battle.  Given that the opposition to restrictions HAS the assault weapons, it could be a bloody battle.  "Cold dead hands" and all that.

I don't see anything being done about handguns.  Just ain't gonna happen, folks.

The American culture celebrates --- something --- I don't know what to call it.  "Rugged individualism" sounds good, but that's not it.  That's just buzz words.  Same with "rights" and "freedom".  More pretty buzz words.

It's more like a xenophobic, running scared, defensive machismo, hiding behind the pretty "patriotic" buzz words.  If you take their guns away, you have castrated them.

Ain't gonna happen.

What scares me the most are the folks who want everyone to carry concealed weapons, all the time.  There are actually some schools (guess which state) where teachers are encourage to carry.  Ok, if people in the movie theater had guns, or if the classroom teachers had guns, maybe the carnage would have been less.


Think about this --- and think hard about it.  There are a few people who decide to commit mass murder.  They are rare.  One here, one there.  It would be nice to keep them unarmed, but we can't.  If you're in a theater, or a school, or a mall, there is probably way less than one chance in a couple million that there's a potential mass murderer there with you.

On the other hand, stupid people are everywhere.  Assholes are everywhere.  You can safely bet that the more stupid they are, the bigger an asshole, the more likely they are to be packing, if they're allowed to, and as soon as they are allowed to.  And as soon as you strap a gun on a guy (yeah, I'm biased against testosterone here) he's going to be looking for opportunities to use it.  It has been shown in study after study that a person carrying a concealed weapon becomes more vigilant, more paranoid, more nervous.  If you're in a theater, what's the chances that you're surrounded by armed idiots and assholes?  A hundred Zimmermans anxious for the chance to be a "hero"?  Just don't drop anything loud on the floor (or shake your Skittles).  "Oops...."  And no one will ever again be able to carry an umbrella.

The only solution is to change the culture.  Make gun ownership a low-class thing.  Sneer at guns.  Take the attitude that someone with a gun is less than a man.

That ain't gonna happen any time soon.
[P.S. Timothy McVeigh didn't need a gun.]

3687 Reaction 2

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Communicating badly
and then acting smug when you’re misunderstood
is not cleverness.


Another disjointed post, not thoroughly thought through.

Parents all over the US are now pounding at their local school boards, asking what protections against violent intruders are now in place, and insisting on more.

Parents at one school are pushing for a barbed-wire-topped fence around the campus with locked and monitored gates!

Do we really want to turn our schools into prisons?

Do they really not understand that incidents like last Friday's are exceedingly rare?  That children are many times more likely to die in a bus or automobile accident on the way to the school than at the school?

Do they intend to dig tunnels from the children's homes to the school so there won't be groups of children arriving and leaving?  Is recess forever cancelled?  Will there be those expandable tunnels from the bus door to the school door so no kids are exposed?  Will the buses be armor clad, bullet and bomb proof?

What about playgrounds? What about evening programs, plays, recitals?  What about parents driving onto the school property to drop off or pick up kids?  How do you know they are really all parents?  How do you know every parent is sane?

Perhaps we should take all children away from their parents as soon as they can walk, and raise and school them in secret underground bunkers.

3686 Reaction 1

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

"If two men agree on everything, you may be sure that one of them
is doing the thinking."
-- Lyndon B. Johnson --


The next few posts will be a bit disjointed (ok, more disjointed than usual) because my thoughts aren't very organized.

I don't know how to say this without sounding cold, but I really don't understand the overreaction of some people to tragedy, selected tragedies.  After Friday's school shootings, a lot of people - not just in the US, all over the world - were crying and wailing and beating their chests.  They seemed to take it very personally, very internally, and I don't understand that.  Sympathy for the parents and families, ok.  Anger that so many little lives were cut short, ok.  Empathy for what those babies must have gone through, ok.  A desire to know WHY, so we can fix it, ok.  That I understand.  I feel that too. 

But I don't understand the excessive (in my mind) reaction of so many people.

Instead, it ticks me off a little that all that passion is reserved only for tragedies that happen to people who are just like them.  Did they react that way when almost 20,000 people were killed by the Japanese tsunami, and many more will die in the future from radiation?  Do they shed tears for the thousands of children in war/drought/famine torn parts of Africa dying of disease, hunger, thirst, or those who have had their hands or legs chopped off by machete-wielding rebels?  Or for the orphans in displaced-persons camps all over the world who freeze to death every winter?

No, because those people are not like them?  No, because some disasters are unlikely to happen to them, so they react only to those that might happen to them?  If that's the reason, then is their reaction sympathy for the victims, or is it actually fear for themselves?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

3685 Revived printer

Sunday, December 16, 2012

“The skunk does not get out of the way of any animal.  It moves along at its own speed, with its own mind.  It is self-assured and confident in itself.  Skunks are fearless, but they are also very peaceful.  They move slowly and calmly, and they only spray as a last resort.  Skunk teaches how to give respect, expect respect, and demand respect.”
 -- from Animal Speak --


Two years ago both my printer and scanner died, so I bought another, a combination copier, printer, and scanner.  I installed it and it worked fine for about a week, then it went weird.  I could use it offline as a copier just fine.  I could queue jobs up to the printer, and they would all print when I started or restarted the operating system, and only during startup.  Once the system was up and running the printer went offline, and the system couldn't find it.   So because it was always offline, I couldn't use the scanner function at all.

I figured I'd have to try reinstalling it, but I print so little that bouncing the system to print wasn't a huge problem, so I never got around to it.

Today I printed off a recipe, and was shocked when the printer started right up and printed it!  Immediately!  On the fly!

Windows had done that automatic update and restart thing this afternoon.  I guess something finally got fixed?  Does that mean that if I had ever tried to reinstall the printer it wouldn't have worked anyway?

I don't understand.

3684 Why stay?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Technically, alcohol is a solution.


There's a discussion going on in a Mensa forum.  A woman posted something about supporting a shelter for abused women and children.  A male Mensan (a member whom no one seems to have met in person) got all het up because there are no shelters for abused men.  He's angry that whenever you hear about spousal abuse, it's all about the women.  Nobody has sympathy for abused men.  He posted links to reports and statistics showing that it's not a minor problem, that men are fully a third of abused spouses and so on.  There have been a lot of heated words back and forth.

The problem I have with the whole topic is that the numbers published by the government are distorted.  I do not believe they are a true picture of the problem.  A lot of the numbers are drawn from bitter divorce filings.  I know for a fact'*' that accusations of abuse/violence in divorce filings can be completely and utterly false, and those claims inflate the numbers.  On the other hand, I do believe that spousal abuse, like rape, is grossly under reported. 

Anyway, this guy is extremely angry and defensive about the topic of abused men, and so very angry at women in general that I came right out and asked, "Were you abused?"  Turns out his wife in her divorce filings had accused HIM of violence, as a result of which he lost contact with his children and was not allowed anywhere near his house.  The charges were proven false (How?  How do you disprove something like that?  It's the old 'he says she says' thing.), but he still has no contact with the children and he's still suffering social ostracism from the accusations.

I backed out of the discussion because he started to get irrational and scary.  I had pointed out that inflation/deflation aside, the federal tables on spousal abuse listed the number of battered women in one column and battered men in another, but did not specify the gender of the batterers, like women on women or men on men, which is meaningful information.  He spat back that gay men are only 8% of the general population, therefore they are only 8% of the battered men and therefore insignificant.  That's so irrational a conclusion that I realized there was no point in pointing it out to him.  In fact, it might be dangerous to do so.

He got scary enough that I begin to believe his ex-wife's accusations.  He was losing it.  In writing.  You could practically see the foam spattering his keyboard.  I wouldn't want to be on the other side of a table from him.  I can believe that whether there was physical abuse or not, there was probably a LOT of emotional abuse.

(Now that I think about it, I think he's the same guy who heaped abuse on me a few months ago when I dared to suggest that people who snort at the idea of global warming because they had a bad winter might be more receptive if we called it climate change.  He was vicious.  Yeah, I'm 99.9% sure that was him.)

And I don't understand why he is so upset about there being no shelters for abused men.  Frankly, I think he just hates women.

Anyhooooo, that got me thinking about all those unreported spousal abuse cases.

Why do women stay with an abuser?  Many reasons, I guess, among which are
  • Lack of self-esteem.  It's all my fault.  I always screw things up.  If I were a better/smarter/prettier person he wouldn't get so angry/frustrated with me.  I don't deserve anything else.
  • Love.  I fell in love with a wonderful guy, and when he's not being so awful, when things are going well, I still see that guy in there.  I have to help him, take care of him, maybe my love will fix him somehow. If I leave he will get worse and fall into despair and hurt himself and I can't do that to him.
  • Lack of options.  I can't leave the children with him, but I have no education, no skills, I can't get a job that pays enough for daycare and to support us. I am trapped.
  • Fear.  If I leave he will track me down and kill me.  It's better to stay here and ice my bruises than to spend the rest of my life as a hunted animal, always afraid that one day he'll be at the door with a gun or around the corner with a jar of acid.  Asking for official protection will just make him madder, and no one can protect me anyway.  At least here I know what to expect.
These are the unreported ones, and they are legion.  I wonder if men who stay with an abuser stay for the same reasons.


'*' I know for a fact because a) I worked in a family law office for a while, and b) because it happened to me.  Maybe I'll write about that some time.