[x]Blackmoor Vituperative

Thursday, 2016-09-29

Arguments against drug testing of welfare recipients

Filed under: Philosophy,Privacy,Society — bblackmoor @ 10:58

I am putting this here so I can find it later.

Moral argument: NO ONE should have their privacy invaded to earn an honest living, much less to receive assistance when they are struggling. The only time it’s even remotely defensible is when someone is operating heavy machinery or otherwise directly responsible for the safety of others, and at those times the test should be for the person’s *ability* to operate that machinery — and that should include the effects of ALL drugs and illnesses which impair motor function. Until that happens, “drug testing” is no more than an excuse to exert power over others just for the sake of doing it.

Practical argument: Several states have enacted laws requiring drug testing of those receiving public assistance. In those states, the evidence is overwhelming: more money is spent on drug testing than is saved by withholding support from people who test positive for the substances being tested. The only purpose for drug testing recipients of public assistance is to pay *extra* in order to treat them like shit.

Pragmatic argument: The surpassing historical ignorance of those who would deprive the poor of food never ceases to amaze me. Even if there were no other arguments for keeping the poorest among us fed — if chubby bourgeoisie like me were all heartess, rapacious narcissists — the simple fact is that when the poor are kept hungry, we chubby bourgeoisie tend to find our heads in baskets. I like my head where it is, thank you very much.

Tuesday, 2016-09-13

The enmity of previous generations

Filed under: History,Philosophy,Society — bblackmoor @ 15:27

There nothing as destructive to humanity as the preservation of the enmity of previous generations, long since dead.

(This might not be literally true. There may be more destructive things. But this one really irks me.)

fossil_skull

Wednesday, 2016-08-31

Happy birthday to me

Filed under: About Me,Entertainment,Fine Living — bblackmoor @ 11:35

The first one-quarter of my life is over: I am 50. Of al the things running through my mind, the uppermost is… I will never be as cool as Vincent Price.

This is scheduled to appear on my blog a couple of months from now. It’d be pretty creepy if I died before then.

Boo!

Monday, 2016-08-29

So shines a good deed in a weary world…

Filed under: Movies,Philosophy — bblackmoor @ 16:04

This is my favourite scene from Willy Wonka. Because it’s not how others treat us that matters, but how we treat others… even if they are crooks, and even if we don’t win a lifetime supply of chocolate as a reward. The world is overflowing with vengeance and pettiness and bitterness: when has that made anything better? It’s better to be true and kind and forgiving, even if your only reward is that you are true and kind and forgiving.

R.I.P., Gene Wilder.

Sunday, 2016-08-21

Don’t buy a house with a HOA or POA

Filed under: Civil Rights,Home — bblackmoor @ 08:12

A word of advice to young people: never buy a house with an HOA (home owners’ association) or POA (property owners’ association), no matter how low the fees are and how mild the restrictions are. HOAs/POAs attract the worst that humanity has to offer: liars, bullies, and thieves, who will lie and bully their way into ever more power, ever more restrictions, ever higher fees. HOAs/POAs are a cancer: worse than cancer, because there is no cure, and they only get worse. Inevitably, inexorably worse.

Here are some memes I made. They’re supposed to be funny. Comedy is hard.

Liars and bullies love POAs.

Liars and bullies love POAs.

Liars and bullies love POAs.

Liars and bullies love POAs.

Liars and bullies love POAs.

Saturday, 2016-07-16

All forests matter!

Filed under: Humour,Society — bblackmoor @ 16:17

I was bored, so I made these. They aren’t as funny as I’d hoped they would be, but what’s done is done. Comedy is hard.

All kisses matter!

All parents matter!

All forests matter!

All holidays matter!

All hearts matter!

Tuesday, 2016-07-05

Fiat 124 Spider Abarth

Filed under: Fine Living,Technology — bblackmoor @ 10:26

I’m not saying that I am buying a new car, but if I were, I think the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth would be on my short list of cars I would test drive. Not that I am buying a new car any time soon. In black.

Fiat 124 Spider Abarth

Friday, 2016-06-24

So you want to make the world safer, part 2

Filed under: Civil Rights,Firearms,Philosophy,Society — bblackmoor @ 09:08

From time to time, people who either don’t own firearms themselves, or who are protected by armed guards, call for “reasonable gun control”: licensing, registration, training requirements, and other bureaucratic hurdles. These calls usually follow highly publicized but statistically rare incidents of mass murder.

There is no criminological evidence to support the idea that registering firearms or licensing the people who buy them would prevent murders. Nor would requiring training.

And really, think about it: the Orlando mass-murderer had no criminal convictions. If he could legally buy a firearm, then he could also legally obtain a license. And registering his firearms would not have prevented any of his murders — we know very well who killed his victims. As for training, his marksmanship appears to have been excellent. None of the measures introduced under the banner of “reasonable gun control” would have reduced the body count in Orlando.

Who would be impacted by “reasonable gun control”? The poor. Who would not be impacted? Murderers, and the wealthy.

Consider this: about two-thirds of the intentional homicides in the USA are committed with firearms. If 100% of those were prevented (and not committed using some other weapon), the USA’s intentional homicide rate would still be higher than Denmark’s, Ireland’s, the UK’s, Norway’s, Sweden’s, Italy’s, Australia’s…

That fact might lead one to suspect that our problems have a deeper cause than merely the weapon most murderers choose. One might even think that our intentional homicide rate might be a symptom of a serious sickness in our society. People who complain about firearms and blame them for our intentional homicide rate make as much sense as medieval peasants who thought a pleasant smell would combat the black death.

But no one cares about that. Everyone wants easy answers that don’t cost them anything. People with guns want more. People without guns want less.

Ashes, ashes, we all fall down.

Thursday, 2016-06-16

So you want to make the world safer

Filed under: Civil Rights,Firearms,Philosophy,Society — bblackmoor @ 16:35

(Note: I have linked to supporting references throughout this. These references are, with one exception, respected news outlets, scholars, and the US government itself. The one exception is a link to what “gun owners know”, which is a link to a pro-gun web site.)

You have heard about the mass murder in Orlando, and you have decided that this is a tragedy. You are right: it is a tragedy. 49 people were killed or mortally wounded in about ten minutes. It normally takes over a day for that many people to be murdered in the USA (about 27 hours, actually).

So you want to take action and do something about it, to prevent mass murders like this one from happening again (and perhaps prevent the isolated murders of 45 or so people every single day, as well).

Mental Illness

Perhaps you think we need better treatment for the mentally ill. You are right: we do. How we treat the mentally ill (or rather, don’t) in the United States is deplorable. Far too many mentally ill individuals find themselves ensnared in our prison system (I think we can all agree that what we have is not a “justice system”).

However, as a group of people, those with mental illness are far more likely to hurt themselves — or be hurt by someone else — than they are to cause harm to anyone. Being a young male is a far more reliable indicator of someone posing a danger to others (a young, poor, uneducated male even more so).

So while we do need better support for those suffering from mental illness, would that support have a significant impact on violent crime or intentional homicide? No, it wouldn’t. So if that is our goal, we must look elsewhere.

Assault Rifles

You have heard from countless entertainers and politicians that assault rifles are the cause of so much death. You want to ban them. No civilian needs a “weapon of war”, right? However, there is a problem with that argument: these weapons have already been banned from civilian ownership.

It has been illegal since 1934 (The National Firearms Act) for civilians to own assault rifles without special permission from the U.S. Treasury Department. They are subject to a $200 tax every time their ownership changes from one federally registered owner to another, each new weapon is subject to a manufacturing tax when it is made, and it must be registered with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in its National Firearms Registry. To become a registered owner, a complete FBI background investigation is conducted, checking for any criminal history or tendencies toward violence, and an application must be submitted to the ATF including two sets of fingerprints, a recent photo, a sworn affidavit that transfer of the NFA firearm is of “reasonable necessity,” and that sale to and possession of the weapon by the applicant “would be consistent with public safety.” The application form also requires the signature of a chief law enforcement officer with jurisdiction in the applicant’s residence.

Additionally, civilian purchase of newly manufactured assault rifles was banned entirely in 1986 (Firearms Owners’ Protection Act). Assault rifles which were manufactured prior to the Act’s passage are regulated under the National Firearms Act, but those manufactured after the ban cannot ordinarily be sold to or owned by civilians at all. And since the number of assault rifles that may be owned by civilians (subject to the long list of requirements above) is fixed or decreasing, the price of those weapons is quite high: $10,000 or more, typically.

Would placing even stricter limitations on the civilian ownership of these weapons have a significant impact on violent crime or intentional homicide? No, it wouldn’t. So if that is our goal, we must look elsewhere.

“Assault Weapons”

Perhaps you have done your homework, and have learned the difference between an assault rifle and an “assault weapon”. An assault rifle fires multiple rounds while the user holds down the trigger. An “assault weapon” is an ordinary rifle that cosmetically resembles an assault rifle. So if we ban “assault weapons”, that should make us all safer and save lives, shouldn’t it?

Unfortunately, there is a problem with that. While “assault weapons” cosmetically resemble assault rifles, they are functionally no different from ordinary civilian rifles. This rifle…

Ruger_Mini14

… and this rifle…

Bushmaster_AR15

… are functionally the same. Banning one but not the other would be like banning red lead paint but not blue lead paint. They are, for all practical (rather than cosmetic) purposes interchangeable. So would banning “assault weapons” have a significant impact on violent crime or intentional homicide? No, it wouldn’t. So if that is our goal, we must look elsewhere.

High Capacity Magazines

There is one functional difference which is obvious from the two photographs above: the second rifle has a larger magazine, which is the container that holds the ammunition. Perhaps limiting the size of the magazine would have an impact on the number of people murdered. Unfortunately, there is a problem with that. There already was a ban on larger magazines, enacted in 1994. From 1994 until 2004, there was a ban on the manufacture of magazines holding more than 10 rounds (as with the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act, existing magazines were grandfathered in). The result on violent crime? If there was one, it was too small to measure.

Furthermore, mass-murderers are not deterred by small magazines: they just bring more of them. One of the two murderers responsible for the Columbine High School massacre in 1999 carried 13 ten-round magazines. The murderer responsible for the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007 carried a backpack filled with 19 ten- and fifteen-round magazines for his pistols. To my knowledge, it has not been reported how many magazines the murderer in Orlando carried, but since he fired at least 200 rounds of ammunition, it is certain that he reloaded several times.

We shall have to look elsewhere if we want to save lives.

Rifles

So if assault rifles are already banned, and “assault weapons” are nothing more than ordinary civilian rifles, and banning “high capacity magazines” has no measurable effect, perhaps what we want to do is ban all civilian rifles. Surely that would save lives, right? It might. Around 4.5% of murders in the USA are committed with rifles. But that leaves over 95% of all murders committed with something else. Surely we can do better?

All Firearms

If we want to hope for even a single-digit percent reduction in the number of people murdered in the United States, and we want to accomplish that by banning (or drastically restricting the ownership of) something, then it is clear that we would have to target all firearms: rifles, shotguns, and pistols. Approximately 68% of murders are committed with a firearm. While that still leaves a large number of murder victims on the floor, at least if firearms were made unavailable, it should have some impact on the majority of them, shouldn’t it?

But we can’t grandfather in existing weapons, as the 1986 Firearms Owners’ Protection Act did. Recent studies have found that only 3% to 11% of criminals who used a firearm during the commission of a crime purchased the weapon legally. The rest obtained them illegally, and the easiest way to illegally obtain something is to steal it. So to cut off the supply of the 89% or more firearms used in crimes, we would need to not only ban the sale of new firearms, we would need to confiscate all or most of the hundreds of millions of firearms which are currently legally owned.

Feasibility

Would confiscating all or most of the firearms in the United States truly save lives? Opinions are divided, but I suspect that it might. Would the cost be worth it, for our legacy as a nation once “founded on the natural authority of the people alone“? I am not so sure. Is it legally feasible? Not with our current Constitution, no. Regardless of one’s opinion of the history or intent of the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, the legal reality is that it does guarantee a right to keep and bear arms of some kind to individual citizens. Eliminating that legal right would require the repeal of that Amendment. It isn’t impossible: A Constitutional Amendment has been repealed before. I do not think it would be easy, but I could be mistaken. Would the individuals who currently own those weapons voluntarily hand them over, without resorting to violence themselves? I suspect not. On the other hand, the TSA gropes and ogles travelers by the millions, and we as a nation have permitted it with barely a complaint, so perhaps I am mistaken about that, as well.

Conclusion

I hope that you have learned something from this. If nothing else, you have learned that neither assault rifles nor “assault weapons” have a meaningful role in the deaths of innocent Americans. They are, at most, emotional phrases used to grab your attention. You have also learned that the phrase often used to placate gun owners, “No one wants to take your guns”, is a falsehood. It must be, because no other course of action based on tighter regulations would have even a hope of making us safer from the risk of being murdered with a firearm (and that is our goal, is it not?). Most people pressing for stricter regulations on firearm ownership know this. Gun owners know it, as well. So hopefully you will not be repeating any of these phrases in the future.

I have little doubt that the Second Amendment will eventually be repealed. I do not think I will live to see it. When or if it happens, I hope the people responsible for carrying out the ensuing police actions, and the people against whom those actions will be taken, will be wiser than we are.

See also: So you want to make the world safer, part 2

Tuesday, 2016-06-14

Magic Item: Julian’s Magic Glass

Filed under: Gaming,Television — bblackmoor @ 08:40

Julian’s Magic Glass

Julian in combat, glass in handOnce filled with rum & coke (or some other nonmagical beverage) and a piece of ice (optional), the glass will continue to be full and the ice will not melt, no matter how many sips the holder takes from it. Additionally, as long as the holder has a firm grasp on the glass, it will remain level and the liquid will not spill regardless of what befalls the holder. Julian’s Magic Glass also has the property that the holder will be allowed to carry the glass without consequences even at times and places where it is impractical, inappropriate, or would otherwise be prohibited (in combat, on horseback, in a prison, at an audience with royalty, etc.). Observers can see the glass and its contents: it just doesn’t occur to them to object to it.

Next Page »