Semi-Auto(nomous) Weapons

December 14, 2012

Maybe, just maybe, after the prayers* go out and we turn towards the inevitable discussion about what happened and what needs to be done, people will step outside of the usual, calcified scripts and realize that there are more possibilities than (racist/sexist) fear-mongering government gun control schemes and (racist/sexist) cock-swinging gun fantasies. That American-style gun culture is messed up is not a reason for more legislation and that our approach to social regulation is messed up is not a reason for American-style gun culture.

Yes, if we were to ever get to the kind of society I dream about, there would really be no place for de jure limitations on the possession of personal firearms; that would simply be the result of taking liberty and equality seriously. But at the same time, if we get there, we’re going to have taken “a good hard look at the social relations and lack of or failing social structures which would cause an individual(s) to resort to shooting up a school” and there would be no place for “systemic crushing alienation” either. (HT John Sabin Adkins @ Facebook)As Shawn P. Wilbur said in a Facebook post:
I’m pretty sure that no amount of modification of our gun policy (in any direction) is going to fix things as long as we live in a society where anger and despair are equally foreseeable responses to conditions that seem unlikely to ease. We probably won’t end the spectacular forms of senseless tragedy without ending the tragically systematic senselessness.
For those tempted to add that we cannot eliminate “psychopathy” (or murder or…), maybe not. What we can do, essentially, is confront the notion that we live in a society where acting autonomously, i.e. doing things because they are ends-in-themselves, is reduced to a minimum. What we seem to be getting as a result are people desperately finding ways to do just that, but these ends-in-themselves are violent, immoral and, if you must, psychopathic. But I’m not going to pretend that “psychopathy” (or whatever you choose to call it) is just some isolated thing that happens to some Other, nor am I going to be afraid to understand something because I might be viewed as excusing it.What kind of society do we want to live in? One that fashions us into semi-autonomous “weapons” of Hate, Alienation, and Destruction or one that fashions us into fully autonomous seekers of The Good, The True and The Beautiful?
* Repose in the eternal Fullness grant unto them, O Eternal One, and let the Light above the Æons shine upon them. May they rest in peace.

Here are two nearly identical “boardroom” scenes from the current season of Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice. If sexism were still a problem, the reaction to Star Jones in the second clip would have been different from the reaction to John Rich in the first. We might expect Donald Trump to call it PC bullshit or for Meat Loaf to make a play about good intentions. But since women got the right to vote, like, a long-ass time ago, it doesn’t turn out that way, natch.

Scene 1: Episode 7 @ 01:16:54

Scene 2: Episode 10 @ 02:01:20

(The links will cue to the right spot after some ads. There are also captions below the video for those who can’t or don’t want to hear it.)

Counter Culture

May 23, 2010

Allison Kilkenny writes:

The free market can’t provide solutions to many social problems. As Oliver Willis (sarcastically) put it, “instead of boycotting [the] bus, rosa parks should have been an entrepreneur and started her own bus service. let the market decide.” Therein lies the problem with Libertarian [sic] philosophy. Social minorities aren’t in a position to start their own businesses, and they are frequently at the mercy of state and private business policies. We can’t all be the CEO of BP. Most people live on the other end of the social spectrum, like the poor fishermen, standing on the Louisiana coast, waiting for the oil to hit the shore.

First things first. Repeat after me: Rand Paul is not a libertarian (or a big-L Libertarian, for that matter).

Next, a history lesson. Rosa Parks was standing up to state laws, not the bus company per se. It was precisely the existence of the government’s laws that prevented the free market from having any chance of working in this case. Read the rest of this entry »

Pissed Off

April 30, 2010

The government will fall that raises the price of beer. – Czech proverb

When you invite the whole world to your party, inevitably someone pees in the beer. – Xeni Jardin

The Lost Abbey tasting room is literally an oasis in the desert. They are no joke and one of  only two breweries (along with Stone) to have two beers on Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s list of the top 25 beers of 2009. The San Diego area has 33 breweries, part of what makes it Men’s Journal’s top pick for American beer towns (Portland has a mere 29). Yes, it’s good to live in San Diego.

What was I saying before this turned into a tourism ad? Oh, yes. The tasting room. A dollar doesn’t get you much these days, but in their tasting room, “it’ll get ya drunk” on a seriously generous serving (4 oz.) of high-ABV beer of outstanding craftsmanship; full pints are a bank-breaking $4. It’s a ridiculous deal in a wonderful atmosphere, right among the barrels, tanks and attendant smells of a working brewery.

It was a good deal; then the state showed up to put a stop to it. The frustration, anger, and raw emotion expressed in this post makes for a breathtaking read. There isn’t much more to say. But I’ll say it anyway. Read the rest of this entry »

Take It Easy

April 29, 2010

Anarchists are radical types and some of us love a good boycott. The recent immigration law in Arizona, being an abominable piece of garbage, seems as good a reason as any to ostracize the hell out of somebody. But I’ve seen a few calls for “boycotting Arizona.” Not Arizona business X or Arizona group Y…just Arizona. It’s quote possible that this is just a shorthand way of saying the government or supporters of the law; sloppy, but right on. If they mean something more like anyone or anything from the artificially-demarcated area known generally as Arizona, I have to raise an eyebrow. Isn’t boycotting AZ residents or products en masse akin to the tactic of state sanctions of other states? State sanctions aren’t normally something I see anarchists praise. So why would we want to emulate them?

Jim Davidson, in a conversation on Facebook, agrees:

…a boycott of Arizona as a region makes no sense, to me, because of the parties not involved in, or opposed to, the acts of oppression being boycotted and ostracised.

But he also point out a subtle difference:

I don’t know about the extent to which private actions are similar to state actions….it would be individual actions in a boycott by persons consenting to participate. A state sanctioning another state or country causes everyone in the state which is sanctioning to suffer even if they don’t consent to the sanctions, as well as causing all those in the state being sanctioned to suffer even if they don’t agree with the actions purportedly motivating the sanction. Sanctions are different from individual action in the extent to which they are coercive to all parties.

This is a good point as far as it goes. But the fact remains that they are, if used indiscriminately, directed at “those in the state being sanctioned…even if they don’t agree with the actions purportedly motivating the sanction.” Is it appropriate to boycott just anyone (primarily businesses I imagine, export or tourist) that happens to be from AZ just because the government that no one can ever consent to passed a horrible law? If so, it seems to give credence to the idea that “you are where you live.” That seems to be more than a little ironic when used in support of the idea that people should not be discriminated against because of an accident of birth. I just question the sense of wide-ranging boycotts over large territories simply because the goons forcibly maintaining a monopoly over force there are behaving goonishly. You lose something in both efficacy and the moral high ground.

Green Police

February 7, 2010

Am I the only one who finds this a little too close to reality to be funny? That I can see this being a not too distant future is pretty frightening. Why not? It’s pretty much the way the state approaches everything for the “greater good.”

Of course, the message doesn’t seem to involve any question about the legitimacy of such an approach. Just buy an Audi and you will have nothing to fear! The rest of you deserve what you get.

Underdog Daze

February 7, 2010

Tom Naughton can’t decide between cheering for the Colt or the Saints today. I completely understand because I’m in the same position. I’m a regular fan of neither but they are both likable, talented teams. While I love pro football, it’s not quite as fun to watch when you don’t have a side to cheer.

I’m originally from Louisiana and have always thought the Saints were cool. But I also appreciate the Colts more from a pure football perspective. Peyton Manning is a great example of intelligence in the game. On the other hand, Reggie Bush is pure excitement. Or I could let my wife’s favorite criteria decide: the Saints have better uniforms. I’m torn.

But Naughton thinks there is at least one good reason not to pick the Saints: Read the rest of this entry »

Izzy Serious?

January 26, 2010

From Eddie Izzard’s website:

It has come to our attention that various ticket agencies are offering Eddie tickets at extortionate marked-up prices. Frustratingly this is something that is out of our control despite the imposing of a 6 ticket limit per purchase policy. Eddie was particularly adamant that ticket prices should be kept to a minimum. £30 outside London and £35 in London. If you want to purchase tickets at the original price, check only ticketweb.co.uk or go direct to the venues. If you can’t find a specific seat or ticket you want, then try the other sites (which are all ticket scalper or ticket tout sites and who will charge you a lot more for your purchase – for no reason. Just for their profit). Until legislation is passed, the only way to stop scalpers is to not use their websites.

Stick to comedy, not economics, Eddie. I particularly love the last sentence. I think I’m going to adopt my own version of it:

Until the state solves the problem, the only way to solve it is anarchism.

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