Category Archives: Moral Outrage

Twitter Time Out

There’s a story I tell about my childhood transition from six years of Catholic school in Kansas City to the public school system in the Chicago suburbs.

Suffice it to say there were…differences…between the two environments. In Catholic school I was an altar boy, incredibly sanctimonious, indoctrinated into Catholic doctrine, and probably on the fast track to be the first American Pope. A few short months later as I hit middle school in the Buffalo Grove School District I was frantically trying to keep my head above water socially and stumbling through a process by which I might become a thinking human being again.

The punch line to the story is, “I started that summer thinking that if I told someone to ‘go to Hell,’ the ground would open up at my feet and Satan would personally appear to escort me to Hell on the spot. By the end of the summer, I was telling people to fuck off and not thinking twice about it.”

That line came back to me today as I’ve been put in 12-hour Twitter Timeout for “potentially abusive behavior” when the only thing I can think of that I possibly would have done is tell some wannabe bot account to “go to Hell.”

Who knew that my pre-teen psychological terrors would come to life fifty-plus years later courtesy of an overly aggressive Twitter algorithm?

(Warning – my Twitter presence is much more political and swear-ish than this site. I don’t suffer fools gladly, and there are a lot of them over on Twitter.)

Perusing my timeline this afternoon, I ran across this:

Bullshit right-wing propaganda, probably from a bot account. I was in the mood to respond, as I had been to similar subhuman cretins for a while.

“…some potentially abusive behavior…”

I don’t see it. If we can’t call a lie a lie and call a liar a liar, we’ve lost. It’s a bot, so the account should be deleted. If somehow it’s actually a human, they really do need to think about their life choices.

And then I said “Please go to Hell.” I didn’t even remember saying “please.” How is that “potentially abusive?”

About half a second after posting this, I got a message from Twitter:

The only thing I can think now is that it might be coincidental that this notice showed up just as I posted that particular response. I had been on a roll for an hour or so. Nothing anywhere near meeting any rational definition of “abusive” or “threatening”, but I do recall the phrase “SHUT THE FUCK UP!” being used several times. It was sort of a theme for the day, in particular to a string of right-wing, wannabe fascists who think that…

(*breathe*) (*again*)

Let’s say that we strongly disagree on a number of political and social topics and our visions for the future of our country are highly divergent.

In “Bull Durham” (an all-time favorite film) Crash Davis only gets thrown out of a game by an umpire after using a certain “magic word” in an argument. Maybe I’ll try that next time. At least then I’ll know WHY I’m being put in Twitter Timeout!

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Filed under Death Of Common Sense, Freakin' Idiots!, Moral Outrage

Spring Thunderstorm 

We had a couple of lines of fairly strong thunderstorms move though SoCal today, which is fine…

…except we don’t get spring thunderstorms in Southern California. Let alone a couple of inches of snow up at Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear.

The problem, of course, being that reality doesn’t give a shit about what we expect or what hasn’t ever happened in the past.

If you choose to believe that climate change isn’t real or that human activity isn’t causing it or that it isn’t nearly as serious as “the left-wing fear mongers” make it out to be or that it’s a conspiracy to cripple American industry or whatever, and you choose to believe that for political and ideological reasons in the face of an overwhelming avalanche of evidence, that’s your right.

It’s my right to point out that you probably are either A) a cult member (i.e., a Republican), B) a freaking idiot, or C) both. “C” is the most likely. It’s also my right to ask you to take a long hike off of a short pier. Go away.

I will not debate reality with you. This does not mean that I’ve got a problem with free speech, nor does it mean that I’m somehow afraid to “debate” the facts with you. It means that you’re trying to argue that 2+2=328,281.54 which means you’re mentally ill. Life’s too short for me to put up with that sort of bullshit. Your pursuit of status in your psychotic cult is not something for which I owe you my time.

Would you like me to tell you how I REALLY feel about it?

Meanwhile, I’ll be out watching the rain and listening to the thunder. I do like thunderstorms. Even the ones that are thinly veiled harbingers of doom.

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Filed under Freakin' Idiots!, Moral Outrage, Panorama, Photography, Weather

Another Abomination 

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Really??!! A Jaguar SUV??!!

Even more disgusting is that it’s labeled as some variation on the F-type model.

I remember the introduction of the F-type sedans & convertibles a couple of years ago. Those are HOT cars!

But this? On overpriced, middle-class Mom-mobile with a stolen valor badge!

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New Website

Because I’m obviously not busy enough, I’ve now got a second website.

It’s Paulietics.com.

If you read my Twitter feed or know me on Facebook, you’ll know that I’m pretty passionate about the current political situation in the United States.

For many months, as we’ve gotten deeper and deeper into our current quagmire, I’ve wanted to write on those topics. And I have, in small chunks, on Twitter and Facebook and so on.

But I’ve hesitated to put that on this site. This has always been my “fun” site. Okay, a few times I’ve gone off on rants when I’ve been really pissed off by something especially stupid in our society or culture, but at least 98%+ has been pictures, stories, travel, space stuff, NASA Socials, astronomy, personal stuff, and so on.

I didn’t want that to change here.

It occurred to me back around Thanksgiving that there was a somewhat straightforward solution. It just so happened that my sister-in-law was visiting and she made the pun that’s the site’s name, I checked and there were variants that were available, so here we are.

If you like what I write and how and would like to take a peek, I would appreciate it if you would do so. If you like what you see there and could spread the word (and about this site as well, of course) I would appreciate that a ton as well.

I’ll warn you, that will be a sweary site. Again, for the most part, I try to keep this site more or less PG-13. Give the situation and the topic, I don’t even think I’m even going to try over there.

Come and join the discussion there! Subscribe! Proselytize!

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Inconceivable!!!

“You keep using that word…”

I’m stunned. Numb. Trying to figure out how to make it right again because it obviously can’t be true.

I’m trying to remember when I’ve felt this helpless, depressed, and upset. 

When I got the call that my Dad had died without any warning? When my Mom passed away last year it was neither sudden or unexpected, but Dad’s heart attack came out of nowhere.

When we found out that The Long-Suffering Wife had cancer? That was scary as hell and changed our world, but we knew that they had caught it early and her odds were good.

When I got the call that my first wife, the kids’ mother, had died suddenly? Yeah, that was really bad, but I had to go into “Dad mode” and get things done, so there was a delay before I had the luxury of time to process it all. Of course, by that time there had been plenty of processing going in behind the scenes, whether I knew it or not.

When I was finally unemployed after 39 years of gainful employment? I was terrified of a very uncertain and frightening future, no doubt about it. But again, there was a surprise factor of zero-point-zero-zero, so “inconceivable” wasn’t a word in a lot of use at the time.

The “Challenger” explosion? “Columbia”? 9-11? Yeah, that’s more like it.

It’s going to take a while to process this. It’s down there in my life’s lowest points.

I very literally fear for the survival of our country, and not in some existential, far off day in the future. And that’s not even the worst case scenario I see.

What the hell have we done?

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Filed under Freakin' Idiots!, Moral Outrage, Politics

Our Duty As Citizens

Yesterday I was agitated and pissed off with the state of what passes for news coverage these days, as well as the collective train wreck in an asylum that is our current political circus. I was frustrated, discouraged, having a crisis of faith.

I still am, but then I read this:

Stonekettle Station – Two Wolves

If you’ve read it also, continue on. If not, go read it now. It’s long-ish but worth every second.

Seriously. This means you. I’ll wait right here for you to get back.

Okay?

I have nothing but admiration for Jim Wright. The man has a wonderful way with words, he puts up with no bullshit, and he has the background and experience to back up what he says when he shuts down the dimwitted, clueless, and often only semi-literate trolls who seem to infect every corner of the internet these days.

There is no “but…” to follow that. I want to thank Mr. Wright for writing and posting this, not just because I needed to read it and be reminded of what he says, but because I really needed it at this particular time.

Last night I wondered if we shouldn’t just look the other way, let ignorance be bliss, and hope that the good guys won. Tonight I have been reminded that it doesn’t work like that.

I also absolutely loved Tomorrowland. Its deeper message wasn’t lost on me and while it was fun on a surface level, there were plenty of parts that I found to be quite moving and powerful. Mr. Wright absolutely nailed the reason why it hit me that way.

Of all of the great lines in the Stonekettle Station piece, the one that hit me the most in re-reading it was, “…it is our duty as citizens to be optimists.” I hadn’t looked at it that way, but he’s absolutely right. That’s my big takeaway.

So go buy a Tesla and get tickets to Mars. If you can’t do that, get solar panels or a windmill. If you can’t do that, at least go buy a DVD of Tomorrowland and watch it, both for fun and maybe for a little bit of badly needed inspiration. Whatever you do, go vote, and demand leaders who are optimists and actual leaders, not hucksters who are using fear and hatred to find a lowest common denominator.

Most of all, don’t ever forget that the real Tomorrowland is actually out there waiting for us to build it. Do your best to be a good citizen, do your duty, and be optimistic. I’ll do my damnedest to do the same.

The old line says, “The meek will inherit the Earth – the rest of us will go to the stars!” Maybe it won’t be meekness that keeps them here, but fear, anger, hatred, and ignorance. Whatever it is, we can’t leave them behind if we don’t go.

I’ll meet you in Low Earth Orbit. Or at Clavius. Or the Valles Marineris overlook resort.

 

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Filed under Death Of Common Sense, Moral Outrage, Politics

A Tragic Stage Full Of Mousetraps

In response to today’s mass murder at an Oregon community college, my son posted something on Facebook mocking the NRA. In response, someone posted…

Unfortunately up to 10 dead due to the lack of ability to legally carry and defend themselves and prevent such a high number of casualties.

…and I thought, “Jesus Christ, are these people really this stupid?”

Let’s imagine a classroom with a high percentage of “good guys with a gun.” They’re safe, they’re secure. They’re Wayne LaPierre’s kind of guys!

Are they all keeping their weapons loaded, out on the desk, and ready for use every moment they’re at school? Even while they’re taking notes, or paying attention to the teacher, or taking a test? “Just in case?”

If so, I’m pretty sure that qualifies as clinical paranoia and they need serious, professional mental help. (And since they’re mentally ill, they really shouldn’t own a gun.)

Okay, let’s give this argument and the NRA the benefit of the doubt.

Let’s say we have a classroom (or a church, or a store, or a beauty salon) with twenty-five people in it, and five of them are armed. In our BEST CASE SCENARIO, the guns are loaded but properly holstered, the safeties are on, the users well trained – just like the NRA recommends. Everyone’s occupied with class, looking up at the teacher and the whiteboard, when someone bursts in behind them and starts shooting.

How long does it take any or all of those well-armed citizens to get their weapon out and use it? People are screaming, everyone’s diving under desks, people are dying, blood’s flying through the air – it’s total chaos.

This is almost certainly a situation none of our well-armed, well-trained citizens has ever seen. There might be one who is a veteran or police officer, but the odds of that are extremely low. The vast majority who might find themselves in this horrible situation will, within seconds, be in a crisis far beyond their worst nightmare, with no warning.

Do they freeze? Do they dive for cover? Do they charge the guy bare handed because they don’t have time to draw their weapons? Do any of our five well-armed and trained citizens even get their weapons out before they themselves are shot?

Think about it. If it’s common knowledge to the shooter that there is likely to be armed resistance in the room, after the first volley he’s going to start targeting those who look like they’re trying to draw their own weapons. Has carrying a gun for protection now made our well-armed citizens prime targets?

Let’s assume for the sake of argument that at least one protective weapon is drawn without the owner being killed, he’s able to use it without shooting his balls off, and the initial mass murder is shot and brought down. (Remember, this is still our best case scenario.)

Success! Right? The bad guy has been shot and while he may have shot a bunch of people by using the element of surprise, we’ve minimized the body count by taking him out. Right?

But…

This chaos has not occured in a vacuum. There are multiple classrooms. They might be off of a common, interior hallway, or they might all open to the outside of the building, as was the case in Oregon today. We’ve just had a massive gunfight, possibly with dozens of shots fired, multiple wounded and dying, bleeding, and most likely many people still screaming hysterically.

People in the classroom next door might have heard, don’t you think?

So if in that next classroom there are also multiple well-armed, well-trained citizens, do they respond by barring the door and preparing to defend themselves if a shooter comes into their classroom? Or does some “good guy with a gun” come rushing out and running toward the sound of gunfire next door, in order to help?

I’m thinking the odds are in favor of at least one of them wanting to be a hero.

So armed student #2 runs up to the door of the classroom which holds the initial attack. He sees bodies, blood, chaos, someone on the floor, and someone else holding a gun.

Is the guy holding the gun a good guy who just saved the day? Or is it the original gunman, waiting for armed student #2 to show up so that he’s the next prime target, just like the other armed students in the room were to begin with?

You have a quarter second to decide. It’s a life or death situation, and you also have absolutely zero-point-zero experience with this other than watching television and movies.

What are the odds that armed student #2 shoots armed student #1?

What if you’re armed student #1, in the classroom after shooting the mass murderer? You’re possibly injured, perhaps seriously, almost certainly in shock even if you’re not injured (have you ever been shot at or actually shot and in this kind of pain before; do you know what to expect?), you have enough adrenaline in your system to let you leap tall buildings in a single bound – and now someone rushes up to the door with a gun. Is he someone from down the hall who’s come to back you up? Or the second mass murderer, coming to back up the guy you just shot? (Remember Columbine?)

You have a quarter second to decide.

What are the odds that armed student #1 shoots armed student #2?

Either way, the probability is significant that more shots will be fired. More people may be injured.

Now armed student #3 comes from another classroom. Maybe there’s a classroom full of injured and dying with a guy standing outside the door with a gun, or maybe there’s a dead or dying guy in the doorway, with a guy inside the room holding a gun.

Repeat the previous confrontation between armed student #1 and armed student #2, this time for armed student #3 and whoever survived the previous confrontation.

Repeat for armed students #4, #5, #6…

Unrealistic? I think not. Furthermore, with every exchange of gunfire, justified or mistaken, those who haven’t yet gotten into the game get more motivation to shoot first and ask questions later.

At some point, the police arrive. There are multiple people with guns, people injured, people dead, perhaps shots still being fired.

Who do the police start shooting at?

You think that’s not chaotic enough? What if someone else in one of the classrooms, someone with a gun, perhaps someone wounded who has just regained consciousness and/or come out from hiding, what if they go off half-cocked when they see someone with a gun, someone not wearing a police uniform? Good guy or bad guy? A tough decision if you’re shot, in pain, and afraid that you’re going to die any second.

When there’s a lull in the shooting, panic can and will set in and there will be people, no matter how many times that they’ve been taught to “shelter in place” during such an event, people who will see their chance and take off running for safety. (And just how freaking horrible is it that we have to plan ahead for what to do if and when we’re caught in such an event? Jesus Christ!) You have a situation now where there might be multiple people with weapons drawn – now throw in screaming people running around, probably in all different directions. What if the crisis is not over and there are still bad guys out there? What if the bad guys are all dead but the good guys have no way of knowing it?

How many innocent, panicked potential hostages get killed or wounded running for safety?

How many of those are shot by bad guys and how many by good guys?

It’s now been a half hour. The police have control of the situation and the long line of ambulances, morgue vehicles, and television vans are clogging the roads.

How many dead? Less than the ten who died today?

If you believe that, there’s a river in Egypt that I would like to sell you. If you’re blind and ignorant enough to want a society where this scenario is realistic, my money says you’ll add at least 50% to the body count, probably more.

How many of the dead were killed by the mass murderer and how many by the “good guys”?


What does this scenario remind me of?

At first I thought of dominoes, but that’s too linear. This is chaos spreading out in random directions at random times, like the spikes in a bolt of lightning.

Then I remembered.

There’s a bit they do on “Who’s Line Is It Anyway?” where they have the stage covered in live mouse traps. The performers are blindfolded and barefoot. Once the first mousetrap goes off, others start going off at random as the performer hops around blindly and in panic. It’s a hilarious bit.

Now imagine that every one of those mousetraps is an innocent person dying, on an ordinary day when they thought they were just going to school. Or church. Or the grocery store. Or the mall. Or a political meet-and-greet.

Same model. Same chaos theory. Much less hilarity.


Anyone want to guess the over/under for how many minutes it is before I start getting responses (aka hate mail, aka attacks, aka threats) from loyal NRA members?

“That’s totally unrealistic, if someone’s well trained and well armed, they would gun the guy down immediately and save everyone!”

Bullshit. Pull your head out of the fantasyland that is your ass.

“Really, the good guys will get their guns out fast and protect everyone else and kill the bad guy! You just don’t know anything about guns!”

You mean, just like all of those armed military personnel at Fort Hood, the ones who have some of the finest professional training in firearms in the world? The ones who were attacked in 2009 with thirteen killed and thirty-three injured? Or the ones who were attacked in 2014 with three killed (not including the shooter) and fourteen injured?

“Yeah, but most of those Army guys didn’t have their guns with them on base. THAT’s why they got killed!”

Do you know why the military generally has severe restrictions on allowing people other than the MPs to wander around on base with weapons, especially loaded ones? Because it’s too freakin’ dangerous! But I forget, the NRA and their redneck sycophants know so, so much more than the US military about weapons and their use. Right?

“When the initial shooting stops, the good guys will put down their guns and there won’t be any secondary shootings!”

Yeah, right. You’re talking about people who are so gung-ho about “being prepared for anything at any time” that they’re carrying loaded weapons into a public place on the less than one-in-a-million chance that someone will show up and do something horrific and terrifying so that they can be the hero and save the day. Can you say, “trigger happy?” Sure. I knew you could.

“The good guys would recognize each other and not shoot other good guys.”

Really? Is that why police and military train to make snap decisions to distinguish shooters from victims? Would random citizens be able to make those decisions correctly without any training?

“In this world, yes, they’ll be well trained, they’ll have that kind of training! You can get it right now!”

I know that training exists for civilians. It’s been offered as a raffle prize at some events I’ve attended. It’s really, really expensive, only for the elite and wealthy. So if you want to argue that each of a couple dozen random folks in a random location at a random time will all have had it, or even something close to that, you might be full of shit.

“They’ll recognize each other because when we all start allowing and welcoming open carry and concealed carry regulations, those who are trained will wear a badge/uniform/hat/something!”

We already have a group that does that. They’re called the “police.” They generally wear those blue uniforms and drive those black and white cars. But even if you do have some symbol of recognition for the magical well-trained, well-armed, citizen militia, doesn’t that just make militia members the first target for the mass murderer instead of the second target during the initial ambush?

“But the police wouldn’t end up making it worse when they arrive! They’re trained!”

Yes, they are. The odds are better that they won’t accidentally shoot the wrong guy. Unless the “wrong guy” is a “good guy” who happens to be black. Or Muslim-looking. Or anything else that might be “suspicious” in a war zone. And the police wouldn’t ever accidentally shoot one of the good guys once he’s identified himself. Or shoot another policeman. That “friendly fire” stuff never really happens except in the movies. Right?

“The good guys won’t get shot, they’ll wear body armor!”

Right, not only are our “good guys with guns” going to have their loaded weapons with them 24/7/365 but they’re going to wear body armor all the time also. Just. In. Case.


Is that the world you want? A significant percentage of the general populace wearing body armor and carrying loaded weapons at every event you go to, at any time of the year or day, “just in case” some madman with a gun shows up? Think about that. Think carefully.

Would it not be easier, by at least a dozen orders of magnitude, to put in place some common sense regulations of guns?

Before you freak out, read what I just wrote. “To put in place some common sense regulations of guns.” Did I say, “repeal the Second Amendment”? Nope. Did I say, “take away everyone’s guns”? Nope. “Common sense.” “Regulation.” You know, the same way that cars and driving are regulated. Or zoning laws. Or building codes. Or the laws that say you can’t have a hundred stray cats living in your house.

Common. Sense. Regulation.

Gun ownership in the United States is a Constitutional right. Somehow it’s also become an obsession and a religion, and it doesn’t seem to matter how many innocent people get slaughtered in cold blood.

This isn’t television. It isn’t the movies. It’s reality, it’s incredibly messy, it can be chaotic beyond belief.

It’s time to stop mentally ill people from having access to guns.

If you honestly think the solution to stopping the slaughter is to have a significant portion of the general populace with loaded weapons in public places all the time, you’re the problem, not the solution.

 

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