A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘You Can’t Cure Stupid’ tag

How Compromises Work

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In the aftermath of every mass shooting perpetrated by a nongovernmental individual, gun control advocates demand new restrictions be placed on gun owners. When gun rights activists refuse to roll over, gun control advocates claim that the gun rights activists are unwilling to compromise. I’m left to believe that the gun control advocates making that claim don’t understand what the word compromise means.

According to the dictionary, compromise means, “an agreement or a settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions.” A good example of a compromise is when one company sues another company for violating its patents and both sides resolve the dispute by agreeing to license each other patents. The suing company concedes its patents but in turn the sued company also concedes its patents. Both sides have given something up to get something.

Gun control advocates demand that gun rights activists make concessions but offer no concessions of their own so there is nothing to compromise over.

However, gun control advocates might convince a lot of gun rights activists to compromise if something were offered in return. For example, I know a lot of gun rights advocates who have stated that they would accept universal background checks if the Hughes Amendment was repealed in return. I also know gun rights advocates who would likely accept raising the minimum age for purchasing a firearm if suppressors were removed from the National Firearms Act in return.

Instead of offering nothing and then complaining that gun rights advocates are unwilling to compromise, gun control advocates should state what they’re willing to concede in return for what they want. If they did that, negotiations could begin.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 22nd, 2018 at 11:00 am

Everybody I Don’t Like Is a Russian Bot

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What are American’s preferred form of political discourse? Character assassination! You don’t support gun control? You want children to die! You disagree with my liberal views? You are a conservative! You disagree with my conservative views? You are a liberal! You don’t support my agenda? You’re a Russian bot!

When somebody doesn’t agree with you, at least online, you just have to call them a Russian bot and you can take a victory lap. I just saw one of my friends, who was debating an issue with somebody else, get accused of being a Russian bot when the other person was no longer able to make an argument. If that person had a microphone, they probably dropped it too.

My friend’s case isn’t an isolated one. I’ve seen countless Internet arguments end in one side accusing the other of being a Russian bot. That doesn’t actually surprise me. Russian bots are the current media fabricated crisis. What also doesn’t surprise but should is that so many people treat such accusations as a trump card. Just because somebody “hates children,” “is a liberal,” or “is a Russian bot” doesn’t automatically make them wrong. Throwing out such an accusation should be seen as meaningless because it doesn’t address the actual issue being discussed. But political discourse here in the United States has hit rock bottom so accusing another person of being something bad is seen as an automatic win. Unfortunately, that also means that finding any middle ground is basically impossible because nobody is discussing the actual issues, they’re just throwing shit.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 22nd, 2018 at 10:30 am

Posted in Politics

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Laws Are Irrelevant

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When you allow yourself to succumb to magical thinking, such as believing that society is a thing in of itself, you leave yourself vulnerable to other magical thoughts such as believing that laws are what establish safety and stability.

Whenever an act of violence makes it to the front pages of news sites, a lot of people start demanding laws be passed to protect people. When I see such demands being made in comment sections on the websites I frequent, I like to point out that laws are just words on pieces of paper and have no power to protect anybody. The believers in law then point out, as if I was unaware, that my argument should apply to all laws. They mistakenly believe that I’m only talking about whatever law they’re proposing but their rebuttal is correct, as I point out, I am talking about all laws. After that the believers in law tend to have a psychological breakdown and start screaming about how laws are what makes society possible.

Laws are not what make society possible. First of all, society isn’t an actual thing, it’s an abstraction that lives entirely in our imaginations. What most people commonly refer to as society is actually a complex collection of human interactions. And therein lies the truth of the matter. Laws aren’t what make those interactions possible. The will of the individuals is. The reason these complex collections of human interactions don’t regularly devolve into mass murder is because the individuals will it not to. It is you and your neighbor deciding not to kill each other that prevents either from being murdered at the hands of the other.

The impotency of laws is demonstrated every time a murder is committed. Murder has been declared illegal in pretty much every nation on Earth. But words on pieces of paper can’t interfere with an individual’s will. If an individual wills an act of murder, a murder will be attempted. I say attempted because realizing on a subconscious level that the law is incapable of protecting them the intended murder victim will likely attempt to defend themselves. Again, the law doesn’t offer them protection, their will to act does.

Even if every law were repealed tomorrow, people would still choose to act against those who act against them or others. That is what establishes safety and stability.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 20th, 2018 at 11:00 am

Mental Illness Is a Meaningless Definition

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Now that I’ve skewered the vultures exploiting the Florida school shooting to forward their gun control agenda, it’s time for me to skewer my fellow advocates of gun rights.

Gun control advocates are quick to lump all gun owners, both those who have committed violent crimes with guns and those who haven’t, together and demand they all be punished. All too often gun rights advocates fall for the same collectivist nonsense. They’ll label the shooter mentally ill and by doing so throw individuals with mental illnesses under the bus.

Saying the shooter belonged to the collective of mentally ill individuals is, like all forms of collectivism, meaningless. Mental illness is such a broad term that saying somebody suffers from a mental illness says nothing specific. What kind of mental illness did the shooter suffer from? Were they schizophrenic? Were they autistic? Were they bipolar? Were they senile? There are a lot of recognized mental illnesses and only a handful of them carry any risk of instilling violent behavior in the sufferer.

I know, I know, anybody who is willing to kill innocent people is obviously mentally ill, right? If so, that means drone pilots and many law enforcers are mentally ill. Strangely enough, I generally don’t hear gun rights activists who label mass shooters as mentally ill apply the same label to drone pilots or law enforcers. It seems like the label of mentally ill is a euphemism for individuals they don’t like.

As tempting as it is, fighting fire with fire isn’t the best way to prevent a house from burning down. If a gun control advocate tries to use nonsensical collectivization to make their case, responding with your own flavor of nonsensical collectivization isn’t productive. It’s far more productive to call out their nonsense while simultaneously analyzing the problems that can be acted on (i.e. the real problems). There is no way to act on an individual belonging to an arbitrarily defined group. There are a ways to improve school security, response times, etc.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 16th, 2018 at 11:00 am

Fitting Definitions to the Narrative

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The shooting in Florida is the 18th school shooting in 2018! Or not. It turns out that the statistic that is being mindless regurgitated by much of the Internet is, like most such mindless regurgitations, malarkey. The statistic, not surprisingly, originates from Everytown for Gun Safety, which is an organization known for massaging definitions to fit its narrative:

Everytown has long inflated its total by including incidents of gunfire that are not really school shootings. Take, for example, what it counts as the year’s first: On the afternoon of Jan. 3, a 31-year-old man who had parked outside a Michigan elementary school called police to say he was armed and suicidal. Several hours later, he killed himself. The school, however, had been closed for seven months. There were no teachers. There were no students.

Also listed on the organization’s site is an incident from Jan. 20, when — at 1 a.m. — a man was shot at a sorority event on the campus of Wake Forest University. A week later, as a basketball game was being played at a Michigan high school, someone fired several rounds from a gun in the parking lot. No one was injured, and it was past 8 p.m., well after classes had ended for the day, but Everytown still labeled it a school shooting.

Everytown explains on its website that it defines a school shooting as “any time a firearm discharges a live round inside a school building or on a school campus or grounds.”

To borrow a phrase popularized by Mark Twain, there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. The beauty of analyzing numbers is that you can whatever result you want if you use the proper definitions. If, for example, you want to maximize the number of school shootings in the United States, you merely need to define a school shooting as any incident where a firearm was discharged on school grounds. It doesn’t matter if the discharge happened at a school that has been closed for seven months or if the discharge was caused by a law enforcer’s lack of awareness of their surroundings.

Details matter but most people ignore them. When they see a headline that confirms their bias, they post it, usually without bothering to read the cited source. This is why most discourse is pointless. Facts aren’t being debated, confirmation bias is.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 16th, 2018 at 10:30 am

Statements of Fact Versus Statements of Opinion

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“You can’t be neutral!”

“You can’t be indifferent!”

“You can’t be apolitical!”

How many times have you heard somebody say a variation of these statements? I’ve heard these phrases quite a few times and the frequency seems to be increasing. However, anybody making such a statement is wrong. Why? Because you can be neutral, indifferent, apolitical, or any combination of those things.

People making such statements are mistaking their personal beliefs for facts. Most of the people who say you can’t be neutral, indifferent, or apolitical are really saying that since you disagree with them on something they view you as being in league with their enemy. For example, let’s pretend that legislation that would establish a government healthcare system has been introduced into Congress. Supporters of the legislation are making the same tired arguments that anybody who opposes it hate poor people, etc. You have been practicing medical tourism to gain access to cheaper and better healthcare and plan to continue doing so whether the legislation passes or not and therefore don’t have a preference on the legislation. If you declare your neutrality, a supporter of the legislation will likely respond by saying that neutrality is tacit opposition to the legislation and you are therefore not neutral but against it. Are you actually against it?

The problem with their assertion is that it’s based on their personal beliefs and personal beliefs are entirely subjective. There may be no such thing as neutrality in their little reality tunnel but your reality tunnel may be advanced enough to include such a concept. So what they’re really saying is that based on their personal beliefs you are their enemy.

Statements of fact can be objectively verified. For example, the top speed of a car can be measured with instruments. It doesn’t matter if you think the top speed of a car is 120 miles per hour if instruments consistently measure its top speed at 100 miles per hour. Saying that the top speed of the car is 100 miles per hour is an objective statement since it can be independently verified by others through experimentation. Abstract concepts such as neutrality, indifference, and lack of political opinions cannot be objectively verified. There is no way to objectively state that somebody cannot be neutral or that neutrality is tacit support or opposition.

The widespread lack of understanding of the difference between objective and subjective statements is, to me, one of the most aggravating characteristics of modern discourse. When somebody is stating their opinion as fact, that is to say when they are framing the debate in such a way that only their opinion is deemed valid, the debate can’t move in any constructive direction.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 14th, 2018 at 11:00 am

Look at All the Economic Stimulus

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A lot of statists cheered when it was announced that the Super Bowl would be coming to Minneapolis. Not only would Minneapolis have the honor of hosting the larger religious festival of the year but its piousness would be rewarded with untold riches from a million, err, 125,000 visitors hurling cash at the local establishments!

As it turns out, the fantastic economic stimulus that was promised was just that, fantasy:

Restaurants along Nicollet Mall and at the Mall of America saw plenty of traffic, but many eateries located away from those immediate areas reported quiet weeks as regular customers stayed at home to avoid the expected Super Bowl bedlam. Downtown Minneapolis skyway eateries also saw customer counts dwindle as the week went on as more downtown workers stayed away from the office and worked remotely.

Super Bowl week was “the worst week ever for us,” said Brenda Langton, co-owner of Spoonriver, located by the Guthrie Theater and just blocks away from U.S. Bank Stadium, site of Super Bowl LII. Sales were down by 75 percent.
Langton also voiced frustration that the media repeated claims by the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee that the Super Bowl would draw 1 million visitors, a number that turned out to not reflect the actual number of out-of-towners coming to the area. The big-number prediction wound up scaring office workers and suburban diners away from crowds that never existed, she said.

“The media needs to stop putting the fear of God into everybody and understand that other cities have weathered [the Super Bowl] just fine and not to terrify everyone,” Langton said. “I just want to have people come back downtown and get over the Super Bowl. It was very good for a few people and that’s what happens.”

PinKU Japanese Street Food, a quick-service Japanese restaurant in Northeast Minneapolis, had some of its slowest days of business ever during Super Bowl weekend, said Co-founder and Head Chef John Sugimura On Super Bowl Sunday, for example, the restaurant made just $303, only 15 to 20 percent of its typical Sunday revenue.

While the entire article lies behind a paywall, it’s not a very effective one. Just disable JavaScript for the domain and the story will display. You can also find the contents of the article in the page’s source code.

This news is only surprising to the economically ignorant. Stadiums and large events don’t create wealth. The most they do is shift wealth around. Money that individuals would have spent on other forms of entertainment are instead spent on attending stadium events. Moreover, large events can run the usual customer base out of town. If I’m an employee working near a stadium and want to grab a quick lunch, I’m going to likely avoid any restaurants in my area during stadium events because I’m worried that they’ll be too busy for me to get served within the block of time I have.

The security large events like the Super Bowl employ can also scare people away. I, for one, have a policy against attending events that require military hardware to defend. Any event that’s thought to be a big enough target to warrant such security is riskier than I want to bother with. I also have a general distain for militarization in general so even if the risk isn’t high enough to warrant the security, I don’t feel like living the life of a poor bastard in an occupied foreign city even for only a few hours.

So stadiums and large events merely shift wealth around. A few establishments will enjoy a significant windfall but they are the exception that proves the rule. Most establishments will notice, at most, a minor increase and oftentimes they’ll suffer a notable decrease in business.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 9th, 2018 at 10:00 am

The Flawed Foundation of Democracy

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Democracy is one of those ideals that enjoys religious devotion from its advocates. In the eyes of the especially pious, democracy can do no wrong. When an election goes the way a worshipper wants it’s because of the goodness of democracy. When an election doesn’t go the way a worshipper wants it’s because democracy has been usurped by a deceiver.

This point is well illustrated by the current political climate. A lot of the most faithful worshipers of democracy, primarily those who belong to the Democratic Party sect, were unhappy with the results of the last national election. They didn’t blame the results on democracy though. Instead great deceivers, Russia and fake news, undermined the greatness of democracy. And now they believe that there is a very real threat to their god:

It already feels as though we are living in an alternative science-fiction universe where no one agrees on what it true. Just think how much worse it will be when fake news becomes fake video. Democracy assumes that its citizens share the same reality. We’re about to find out whether democracy can be preserved when this assumption no longer holds.

I used this article because it’s based on a laughable premise. According to the article democracy assumes that voters share the same reality and that modern technology is allowing deceivers to create a world where nobody shares the same reality. However, at not point in the history of democracy has every voter shared the same reality. Propaganda, bribery, coercion, and other forms of deceit existed long before Cleisthenes brought democracy to Athens. In addition to deceit, personal beliefs and opinions also alter voters’ realities. A devout Christian does not share the same reality with an atheist. We bear witness to this every time a law based on religious beliefs is proposed by a Christian politician.

Each and every one of us has, to use Timothy Leary’s term, a different reality tunnel. Our individual beliefs and experiences filter the way we perceive the world and since no two people share the exact same beliefs and experiences, no two people filter reality in the exact same way.

If democracy assumes that voters shared the same reality, the very foundation of democracy is flawed (a premise that I belief).

Written by Christopher Burg

February 6th, 2018 at 11:00 am

Objective Truths

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Should books on a bookshelf have their spines facing out or in? I never realized that this was even a debate but apparently it is:

“Man, do people hate it,” she says, talking about the way she stacked her books. “It’s silly that I have to say this, but I do read and I like books, too.”

Why might anyone wonder? Maybe because Ms. Meininger, 33, who lives in Hannibal, Mo., had arranged her books backward, with the spines facing the wall.

The minimalist look has caught on in certain design circles. By turning books around, the taupe and white page edges are shown on a shelf instead of book spines that often don’t match the rest of the décor.

Much like the use of the Oxford comma, this seemingly subjective debate actually has an objectively correct answer: spine out.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 6th, 2018 at 10:00 am

Explaining the Plebeians Love of the Games

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The Super Bowl is being hosted in my neck of the woods this year. It’s not bad enough that the entire city looks like it’s hosting an open-ended military presence but it also has to keep up this appearance all week. The plebeians, even though most of them can’t afford to attend the actual game, don’t seem to mind though. In fact many of them belief it’s an honor to host such a great event.

What honor do these individuals experience as they watch the Super Bowl taking place a few miles from their home on televisions that their fellow plebeians in, say, Houston, Texas don’t get to experience as they watch the same game on their televisions?

The honor of knowing that if a sizable nuclear bomb were dropped on the US Bank Stadium, they and their house would be consumed in the exact same blast!

What greater honor could any of us experience?

Written by Christopher Burg

January 30th, 2018 at 11:00 am

Posted in Side Notes

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