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Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Combat Vets Destroy the NRA’s Heroic Gunslinger Fantasy

Combat Vets Destroy the NRA’s Heroic Gunslinger Fantasy

"Wayne LaPierre, the head of the National Rifle Association (NRA), has famously claimed that “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.”

Much of today’s opposition to stronger gun safety regulations rests on the gun lobby’s Hobbesian vision of self-sufficient, heavily-armed citizens standing up to vicious thugs. This Die Hard argument is constantly parroted by politicians and conservatives pundits. But the statistical reality is that for every justifiable homicide in the United States—for every lethal shooting in defense of life or property—guns are used to commit 34 murders and 78 suicides, and are the cause of two accidental deaths, according to an analysis of FBI data by The Washington Post...

LaPierre, a career lobbyist, has no clue what it’s like to use a firearm in anger. The Nation spoke to several people who do—combat veterans and former law enforcement officers—and who believe that the NRA’s heroic gunslinger mythology is a dangerous fantasy that bears little resemblance to reality...

Retired Army Sargeant Rafael Noboa y Rivera, who led a combat team in Iraq, says that most soldiers only function effectively after they’ve been exposed to fire a number a times. “I think there’s this fantasy world of gunplay in the movies, but it doesn’t really happen that way,” he says. “When I heard gunfire [in Iraq], I didn’t immediately pick up my rifle and react. I first tried to ascertain where the shooting was coming from, where I was in relation to the gunfire and how far away it was. I think most untrained people are either going to freeze up, or just whip out their gun and start firing in that circumstance,” Noboa said. “I think they would absolutely panic.”

Everyone interviewed for this article agreed that the key distinction isn’t between “good guys” and “bad guys,” because intentions are less important than the rigorous—and continuous—training that it takes to effectively handle firearms in high-stress situations...

Tactical officers typically receive training in “judgmental shooting,” which includes knowing when it’s prudent to hold their fire, and “blue-on-blue awareness,” which drills into them the importance of considering whether other cops are present, including officers who aren’t in uniform. They’re trained to overcome tunnel vision by looking not only at their target but also maintaining an awareness of who or what is behind it...

A case in Texas two weeks ago highlights the risks of civilians intervening in chaotic situations. Police say that as two carjackers struggled with the owner of a car at a gas station in northeast Houston, a witness decided to take action into his own hands. He fired several shots, but missed the perpetrators and shot the owner of the car in the head. He then picked up his shell casings and fled the scene. Police are still looking for the shooter.

The potential for that kind of outcome is why most police agencies strongly recommend that concealed carry holders only use their weapons as an absolute last resort, and not intervene in robberies or other crimes in which they’re not directly involved. David Chipman notes that even police officers are told that if they encounter a crime in progress while off-duty, “maybe the best thing to do at that time is not to take lethal action but instead try to be the best witness you can be.”

Not pulling a weapon is often the wisest course of action in active-shooter situations. While a number of conservatives declared that Oregon’s Umpqua Community College, the scene of a mass shooting last week, was a gun-free zone, the truth is that several concealed carry holders were present, and they wisely decided to leave their guns holstered. Veteran John Parker later explained to MSNBC, “We could have opened ourselves up to be potential targets ourselves, and not knowing where SWAT was… if we had our guns ready to shoot, they could think that we were bad guys.”

Dabid Chipman says the Secret Service’s history is instructive. “Here’s an agency that has all the weaponry that they could ever need, all the training that they could ever need, and they’ve never fired a weapon in defense of a president during an assassination attempt. You’re trained to throw your body in front of the protectee, not to open fire. Just look at the picture taken immediately after Reagan was shot and count the guns in that photograph. They’re all being held by highly-trained experts and not one of them fired. They didn’t shoot [would-be assassin John] Hinckley. And that’s because you’re likely to do more harm than good in that situation”...

Blair co-authored a study for the FBI that looked at 185 mass shooting events over a 13-year period. It found that while around one-in-five were stopped by civilians before police arrived, in only one case was it done by a typical “good guy with a gun” (professionals—an off-duty cop and an armed security guard—used their guns to stop two others). In most cases Blair and his colleague studied, civilians ended a rampage by tackling the assailant...

Epidemiologists at the University of California, San Francisco, conducted an extensive analysis of data from 16 previous peer-reviewed studies, and found that having access to a firearm makes a person almost twice as likely to become the victim of a homicide and three times more likely to commit suicide. Previous research has shown that countries with higher rates of gun ownership also have higher rates of gun deaths and states with more guns have higher homicide rates...

Those who have carried weapons into combat or to make an arrest scoff at the very idea.“It’s insane,” says Stephen Benson. He recalls an anecdote from his first pistol class in basic training. “We put on our issue .45s, and our instructor said, ‘Gentlemen, the first and most important thing you’ve done by putting on that weapon is you’ve increased your chances of being in a gunfight by 100 percent.’ That’s a lesson that a lot of people don’t get. More guns means more gunfights"

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Historical Comparisons to the European Refugee Crisis

BBC Radio Ulster - Everyday Ethics, The Ethics of the Ashley Madison hacking, the Refugee Crisis, and Van Morrison's Spirituality

Cormac Lucey (on the refugee crisis): It evokes a very emotional response when you raise the issue of the Jews fleeing persecution in Nazi Germany, but when the Polish Home Army sent an officer - Jan Karski, into Auschwitz and got him out of Auschwitz and they got him across to the United States and he met the then-Jewish United States Chief Justice Felix Frankfurter in 1943, even Frankfurter doubted his account of what he had seen.

So I think it's wrong to conflate strict immigration policies in the 1930s with somehow tacitly assisting the Holocaust.

Secondly, Joel [from the IOM] has favourably referenced United States immigration policy and you referenced the quote on the Statue of Liberty at the start of this program.

But the United States could only become a country open for massive immigration because they had wiped out the indigenous population and they operated on a philosophy of manifest destiny, which was actually namechecked by Hitler in his book Mein Kampf.

Hitler's attitude to the Jews and East Europeans was similar to what he thought the Americans had practised against the Indians...

They're seeking, at every stage, to improve their life chances... we have two crises in one. We've got refugees fleeing wars combined with people looking to move from poor countries to well-off countries...

People get from, reach a safe harbour from Syria, say. They get to Turkey. But then they look for a better harbour. So they move to Greece, then to Serbia, then to Hungary, then to Austria, then to Germany. And we've two crises in one here...

These are largely Arab people. Where is the rescue effort from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait? Why is it that the EU must fix all of the problems of the world?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Links - 29th September 2015

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Chicken: Too Much of a Good Thing? - "In the United States, the chicken is not even considered to be an animal if it's grown for food"

BBC World Service - The World This Week, Germany welcomes migrants - "In some ways, it's the linguistic divide that explains why a country with so much promise has repeatedly let its people down. Simply put, you can divide Pakistanis between those who speak English and those who can't

Why Don’t Feminists Call Kate Upton A Misogynist? - "If we take feminist “logic” to its proper end, Kate Upton is one of the biggest disseminators of institutionalized misogyny in the world... Blaming anorexia on the patriarchy’s obsession with female weight control, feminists? Well, what about Kate Upton? She parades her body incessantly and is the beneficiary of constant digital alteration to make her appear “perfect.” She also wears prodigious amounts of make-up, which gives other women an additional reason to believe the illusion and that they can never meet her standards of beauty. So who’s subtly encouraging these girls to pray in front of the porcelain goddess in a bid to lose an extra pound or two in vomit? The average man who buys the $8 magazine or the woman, like Kate Upton, who makes the image on the front cover possible?.... We need to dispel the notion that feminists are not aware of their profound internal contradictions. They are. But the decision to blame normal male sexual desire and forget the female collaborators, like swimsuit models and pornographic actresses, is a political one. Leaving the women out allows feminists to spin the overarching narrative that whatever they do not like is either solely because of men or helped by women who couldn’t possibly know better and are therefore spectacularly blameless... by abrogating all female responsibility for the selling of the female body, feminists are infantilizing women one hundred times more than what the manosphere has ever been accused of... The only fair way for SJWs to attack male sexual desire is to vilify the females who choose to satisfy it"

How to Live Wisely - The New York Times - "Deciding on a major can be amazingly difficult. One student in our group was having a hard time choosing between government and science. How was she spending her spare time? She described being active in the Institute of Politics, running the Model U.N. and writing regularly for The Political Review. The discussion leader noted that she hadn’t mentioned the word “lab” in her summary. “Labs?” replied the student, looking incredulous. “Why would I mention labs when talking about my spare time?” Half an hour after the session, the group leader got an email thanking him for posing the question."

Ancient cities and the Norman conquest | Podcast | History Extra - "I hate the idea that the past is there to give us lessons. I think the importance of the past is to free us from the tyranny of the present. We think the world we live in is so important and it's the only possible way of doing things. And I think part of the fascination is to look back into the past 2,000 years ago and see people struggling with some really quite similar problems but from a completely different perspective. Maybe there are lessons about immigration, for instance, that you can't just imitate the Athenian way. Should we introduce metics in Britain?"

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent, Should I Stay or Should I Go? - "I hear President Putin respond to the corruption allegations against FIFA. He blames America for what he seems to see as politically motivated arrests aimed at taking the World Cup away from Russia in 2018... that bellicose form of patriotism is everywhere in Russia today... you hear it all the time on the news. Everything is interpreted as being aimed against Russia. It's absurd. Americans don't spend their lives scheming against us but the authorities here think and talk as if they do, and many people believe it. The rhetoric today is like something from another era - the Soviet era. I feel as though we're asked every day to make a choice between being true patriots or leaving Russia"

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, The Photon - "By putting in numbers into the equations, from measurements that had been made of other things, it was possible to work out the speed of these waves. And when you put the numbers in he found the speed was about 300,000km/s which was quite astonishing because that was a number that had been measured for the speed of light. And so at that moment you have a choice. Is it a coincidence or is it something very profound? And in Science we tend not to believe in coincidences and indeed it was profound. This was a theoretical suggestion that light is nothing more or less than an electromagnetic
wave... It's one of the great wonders of the Nobel Prize that J. J. Thomson got the Nobel Prize for discovering the electron as a particle and his son G.P. Thomson got the Nobel Prize for demonstrating that it was a wave"

The story of St. Columba: A modern copyright battle in sixth century Ireland - "I've long been under the impression that copyright began with the Statute of Anne in 1710, as is generally taught. But have you ever heard of Saint Columba (521-597)? If not, the story is going to sound pretty familiar compared to modern copyright battles. But fortunately, mp3 downloads rarely result in 3,000 deaths... After more arguing and Columba's next offense (harboring a fugitive from Diarmait), the result was the Battle of Cúl Dreimhne, the death of 3,000 people, and Columba's exile."

How Attempted Suicide Cured a Man’s OCD - "the bullet actually destroyed the left frontal lobe, the region of the brain that controls this obsessive behavior, without causing major damage to any other region"

"Rape By Fraud, Deception, Or Impersonation - An Addition To New York's Penal Law: Rape In The First Degree Statute" by Daniel J. Slomnicki (Law Student Connection) - ""The court did voice its disapproval of the defendant's conducts by calling him "The Abominable Snowman.""

I thought I was marrying the love of my life but he turned out to be a woman - "A SINGLE mum who had sex with her ­boyfriend for years was stunned to discover the ­lover she hoped to marry had ­always been a WOMAN. Still reeling as police revealed the truth, Nicole Lindsay, 24, was then told her “man” was a lesbian sex offender called Samantha – once jailed for preying on a girl of 14... To carry on the lie, Brooks would even go to the toilet standing up, a court heard. Police found in her possession an object made from the wooden ­centre of a toilet-roll holder padded out with bandages and overlayed with four condoms. Nicole recalled: “There were ­peculiarities in our relationship. I’m incredibly shy and not comfortable about being naked in front of a partner. Lee pretended to feel ­ the same because he said he’d had testicular cancer. “He also said he had scarring on his torso where a previous lover had struck him with a ­burning piece of wood. I now know that was an ­excuse so she could have a tight bandage round the chest to hide her breasts.” Nicole said Lee ­appeared to have a very strong sexual ­appetite, often dragging her into parks “for a ­quickie because I can’t wait” on the way home after a night out... Samantha Brooks had been ­convicted on October, 5, 2007, of sexual offences against a 14-year-old girl while pretending to be a man... “Lee had pretended to be setting her up with his ‘brother Lewis’ but eventually we discovered it was just Lee using another phone. “Once one of my uncles said, ‘He doesn’t have an Adam’s apple,’ and commented about his handshake not being manly. “My uncle also pulled him up about a bald spot on his head. Lee said it was cancer treatment but my uncle said, ‘I’ve had cancer twice and lost hair from the treatment. All my hair. That’s alopecia and you’re a liar’.... Samantha Brooks, from Uxbridge, North West London, refused to discuss her behaviour or her past conviction. Despite our pictures she claimed she had never even met Nicole."
Keywords: made of toilet paper, thought she was a man

Woman discovers 'boyfriend' of two years is woman when she removes blindfold during sex - Telegraph - "The complainant said she thought she was having sex with a man called Kye Fortune, who was recovering from a brain tumour and did not want her to see his scars. But she claims she eventually discovered it was in fact her 25-year-old friend Gayle Newland, who had persuaded her to wear a blindfold throughout their sexual encounters in which a prosthetic was used... the pair spoke frequently on the phone where the complainant described Kye's voice as "high-pitched"... Describing what she said was their last sexual encounter before she went to the police, she said: "When I was having sex I grabbed for the back of his head and my hand got caught on something. It did not feel right. "I was sat on the bed, he was standing up. Something in my mind said 'pull it (the blindfold) off, pull it off'. I just pulled it off. Gayle was just standing there... I just couldn't believe it, I couldn't believe it. Straight away she held her hand down over her face and said 'it's not what you think'.""
There is stupid and there is...

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Ashoka the Great - "The only evidence we really have for Ashoka is his inscriptions. And all the stuff about how he'd been a violent young man and all this, comes from many hundreds of years later. It's of course very typical of hagiography that if you want to say that somebody was a great saint, you say that he was a terrific sinner before that. Take the story of the Buddha. The Buddha renounced everything and had no possessions so it tend to be made out that he was a Prince who had every luxury although there's no historical evidence for that either. None of these things are likely to have been true and they do come from many hundreds of years later. And Ashoka is rather unique because he left these 33 inscriptions, some of them quite long, and you know: those are the first examples of writing in India... [Ashoka] wants people to go to the monasteries and make sure that the monks are not creating dissension and splitting the sangha, which ever since the time of the Buddha is thought to be about the worst thing you can do for Buddhism, to cause it to split. And he tells people to go and have a look that the monks are in agreement and to defrock those who are causing disagreement... He's not a part of Indian history... he was discovered, as it were, by the deciphering of his inscriptions by an Englishman in 1837. And to this day, even now in Indian schools for instance, the schoolbooks make very little of him. He's known as a Hindu King. They never say that he wasn't in favour of the caste system. They never say that he was, he forbade sacrifices. They never say the sort of things that he said because they are - correctly - considered antithetical to Hinduism. And one of the most remarkable things about Ashoka is that although he was certainly one of the greatest kings - and that's not a value judgment, he ruled virtually the whole of India which nobody did till the British in the 19th century, one of the greatest kings ever known in history, the Indians, very cleverly, totally forgot him and totally buried him. And that's because he was effective. He did exactly what they disapproved of and he knew he was doing it"

23 Studies on Low-Carb and Low-Fat Diets - "Keep in mind that all of these studies are randomized controlled trials, the gold standard of science. All are published in respected, peer-reviewed medical journals. These studies are scientific evidence, as good as it gets, that low-carb is much more effective than the low-fat diet that is still being recommended all over the world. It is time to retire the low-fat fad!"

International Preferences in Selecting Mates - "Chastity proved to be the mate characteristic on which cultures varied the most... Consistent sex differences in value attached to eaming potential and physical attractiveness supported evolution-based hypotheses about the importance of resources and reproductive value in mates"

Attractive women want it all: Good genes, economic investment, parenting proclivities, and emotional commitment

Brain electrodes conjure up ghostly visions

Neuroscientists awaken ghosts… hidden in our cortex - "Stories like this have been reported countless times by mountaineers, explorers and survivors, as well as by people who have been widowed, but also by patients suffering from neurological or psychiatric disorders. They commonly describe a presence that is felt but unseen, akin to a guardian angel or a demon, inexplicable, illusory and persistant. Olaf Blanke’s research team at EPFL has now unveiled the ghost. They were able to recreate the illusion of a presence in the laboratory, and provided a simple explanation. They showed that the “feeling of a presence” actually results from an alteration of “sensorimotor” brain signals, which are involved in generating self-awareness by integrating information from our movements and our body’s position in space. In their experiment, Blanke’s team interfered with the sensorimotor input of participants in such a way that their brains no longer identified such signals as belonging to their own body, but instead interpreted them as those of someone else. The work is published in Current Biology."

Monday, September 28, 2015

Vegetarian Death Threats

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, India: Faith, Food, and Politics

On a family in Ahmedabad:

"He and his family own a tiny top floor flat in a complex known to be vegetarian.

'Earlier, you know these people they start coming to our house and sake of, "you don't cook this, we get the smell and it's against our religion and you know all and all".

But we made them understand, okay, you follow your religion, we have to follow our religion. How can you say, how can you ask us to stop this? And we won't stop that. After that you know , when they saw that okay we are not stopping cooking non-veg and all, then they started sending us a threatening letter. They were writing that we'll kill, we'll rape your daughter, we'll rape your wife, we'll do this and that'.

Mr Auri (sp?) shows me 35 letters, many post-marked, some with condoms taped to them. He acknowledges he has no proof as to who sent them, but for two years he complained to local police. Finally, he was allowed to install CCTV cameras in the building and the letters and threats ceased."
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