Sunday, June 24, 2018

You're Pavlov's dog and you don't even know it.

If you’re a natural born US citizen I’m about to tell you how you’ve been manipulated and conditioned since birth. I’m talking about something that is so endemic to our lives, it lands somewhere along “Does a fish recognize water?” (Another version is “Does a fish know it’s wet?”) In other words, you’re conditioned to react to it, not think about it, not recognize how you’re being manipulated or that you even are being manipulated. 
It’s called Monroe’s Motivational Sequence. Once it’s pointed out to you, it’s really, really obvious. 
 If I was being snarky, I’d say it’s how to get people to shut down their brains. Which while that is the common result, that’s not the intent– well not entirely. The sad thing is the people who are most vulnerable to being manipulated this way are the ones who think they’re too smart and are making informed decisions and hold knowledgeable opinions. Monroe’s sequence is everywhere. It’s foundational to advertising, marketing, politics, social movements, etc., etc. In fact, it’s so interwoven into our lives that many times, to manipulate people with it, folks don’t even have to run through the whole process anymore. All they have to do is ring the bell and folks are drooling and prancing around. Woof woof. 
About the ‘since birth’ comment. Back in the 1930s a guy named Alan Monroe came up with a five stage process that pretty much ALL advertising follows. (Do the math, if you were born after the 1930s...) Even for people born before, that’s not just ‘adult,’ that’s almost all of their lives. Do I have your attention about how endemic this problem is? 
Good because that’s the first two steps.
1 - Get their attention "
2- State the problem
3 - Provide the solution
4- Imagine (with a variation)
5 - Call to action 
I’m going to use advertising because we’re all familiar with it. 
Step one- Attention. Ever notice that commercials are louder than the show you’re watching? That the colors are brighter? Yep. Get the people’s attention. Oh and that black screen pause? “Wait, what happened to the picture?” Yep. When you’re constantly bombarded with images and noise, a second of silence and black is another attention-getter. 
Step two - State the problem. OH MY GAWDS! My children’s clothes are not as bright and shiny as the neighbors! What shall I do? Where shall I go? What ever shall become of me ? < / end Southern Belle panic voice >
Step three - Provide the Solution. TIDE! Flickering montage of the problem being corrected (with significant product placement). 
Step four - Imagine. Your happy, shiny children out-shining the neighbor’s kids.
Step five- Call to action. Overt message: Another picture of the product. Subtle message (or not): GO BUY OUR PRODUCT! Seriously, how many times have you seen commercials ending with ‘act now?’ Depending on who they’re pitching, they’ll be overt or subtle about the call to action. 
Like I said, once this sequence is pointed out to you you know it well. 
That’s why I’m not really going to spend much more time on the details about it (besides you can look into it). What I am going to spend time on is how it affects us and how it’s used. Starting with this sequence taps deeply into how we are wired as humans. (If you know the term, our Monkey Brain.) We as humans are social primates. We are wired to operate in groups AND to be very concerned about our status in a group. Most of human existence was us operating in small groups and limited numbers. THOSE are the people we’re wired to be concerned about our status with. Advertising exploits this wiring and social conditioning makes us think in terms of large ‘imaginary’ groups. 
How large? Much, much larger than our wiring is for. For example your bright, shiny kids and their sparkly clothing isn’t just to display to your neighbors, but to ANYONE who sees your children. Now instead of impressing a small select group, you’re supposed to worry about getting the hairy eyeball from thousands because (gasp!) you don’t use the right detergent. 
Yes, I’m overstating it, but that’s to get the idea across. The general idea is our very wiring makes us susceptible to manipulation via this sequence. The specific example is our concern over maintaining our social status. When that’s the case, we move into heuristics, biases and – well not to put too fine of a point on it, but– shutting our brains off. (Which, if you’re human, that’s what we default to, until we take conscious control of it.)
The next thing I want to point out is how mixed and muddled steps two and three have become -- and how they effect our thinking.
I’ll start this part by pointing out how uncomfortable people become if you only lay out a problem, but don’t propose a solution. It’s almost like when you don’t 
ARRRRRGH! Finish the sentence! What’s wrong with you MacYoung? Finish the sentence! 
 Again it comes down to conditioning, but in this case take the next step. You’ve been conditioned to expect them to come bundled. What good is knowing a problem if you don’t have a solution? Stop and think about that for a second. Specifically ask, what little alarms does it set off? And why? It doesn’t take but a few seconds to find a simple sounding ‘why.’ Yet it really isn’t that simple. In fact, it gets real deep real quick. Part of the complexity is speed, part of what’s setting off alarm bells is tailoring the problem. 
When it comes to someone manipulating you, these two are seriously intertwined. The speed part is how fast we accept –or reject – solutions. (“Yes Tide.” “Screw Tide, I use Oxyclean.”) That’s not a snap decision, that’s a ‘my mind’s made up, don’t confuse me with other information.’ While that’s an important topic, it’s a rabbit hole we won’t go down. But I will re-stress it’s well worth looking into – because of what happens when we don’t take the time to stop and actually think.
Tailoring the problem is the other part. How relevant is which car parts store you shop at to your children’s shiny clothes? Wait. What? What the hell do car parts have to do with my children not being laughed at for dirty clothes? Welcome to tailoring the problem. And yes, once again, I went to overstatement so you see the general idea. But this time so you can see the far more subtle and manipulative part. 
That is the people who want to sell you something will tailor the problem in such a way that the solution they provide is the only right answer. This even if they have to throw out huge amounts of evidence, complicating factors and – oh yeah – reality itself. They’re going to tell you theirs is the answer to a problem– even if they have to make the problem up! (“Ring around the collar.” The heartbreak of psoriasis.” “GMOs”) 
That’s a big part of rushing you from the problem to their solution. It’s really not in a salesman’s best interest to have you doing your own research – that’s why they so often provide it for you. I’m dating myself but “4 out of 5 doctors smoke Camels” and “4 out of five dentists prefer Trident.” 
Now, stop and think. How many studies, experts on the subject and statistics have you heard to frame a problem and as the basis of their solution? You can also throw in those ‘unquestionable facts’ being used as proof of why their solution must be implemented now. Scurry, scurry, hurry, hurry... no time to think.
The next stage is imagine. That’s also where I said there’s a variation. The imagine part isn’t always warm and fuzzy. Fuzzies are positive advertising. There’s very much an opposite imagine approach; an approach of “It’s the end of the world as we know it” and other dire consequences (especially if we don’t act now). Still another variations is why any other possible solution– by those other rat bastard over there– is wrong. That’s the sophisticated and intellectual version of ‘you have to think this way to be on the right side of history.’ Way too often – knowing that the sale has been blown– it’s time to attack. In fact, the rejection of your cherished solution and/or your version of the problem is the green light to attack those evil, wrong, hateful and oppressive rat bastards – or those whackjobs perverts who are undermining society, corrupting our youth and threatening America, mom, apple pie and God. (Yeah, newsflash folks, this is very human behavior and the more sanctimonious you feel, the further down this rabbit hole you’ve gone.) 
By now, Call to Action should be pretty obvious. 
 But what about perpetuation? That can replace not only call to action, but also allow us to short cut having to do the whole process over again. Ever looked at a billboard and only seen a smiling face with the product? If you’ve bought into that narrative, that’s all they need to do. With the bare minimum effort they remind you you’ve bought into their... errrr... they remind you of the rational and informed decision you’ve made about the subject. So remember, when the subject comes up again, you’ll know how to behave. (Ring, ring, woof, woof.) 
In closing, two things about this article. One: I’ve put this in terms of advertising with only hints about how far it goes into other fields. That’s to bring to your attention how you’re being manipulated. Manipulated not only by professionals, but also to point out how many amateurs who try to use this for their own agendas. It’s not only out there, it’s everywhere.
Two: In writing this, I deliberately used the first two stages of Monroe’s sequence.
1- By using terms like manipulated, Pavlov, don’t know it -- I got your attention.
2- Houston, we have a problem. 
Then I broke the pattern. First by telling you this isn’t the whole of the problem. And then I’m not giving you a ‘fixed solution’ because simply stated, there isn’t one. It’s more important to know and understand the subject exists (including how it’s being used on you) so you can come up with something that works for you. You working on shaking off it’s control over you isn’t something I can tell you quick and easy steps. I just introduced you to the idea, it’s a whole lot bigger and deeper than you realize. The implications –especially when it comes to people trying to make you emotional – are going to take some looking into.
So don’t get cranky because

Friday, April 6, 2018

Dealing With Different Positions

First, try listening to understand. (Not listen to respond.) 

Second, ask for clarification/expansion of ideas that don't make sense. 

Third, step back and consider
a - conditions that might make what the person is saying true
b - soft factors (where they're coming from).
c - if it is a workable premise within it's own parameters* (This is different than the fifth step)
d - is it consistent with the ideals of a group**

Fourth, the Machiavelli Factor
a - what they aren't telling you
b - possible whys they are telling you (what profit, positioning and motive)
c - the nature of how they are telling (insulting, conversationally, etc)
d - what they want you to do about the information (including nothing, but also deliberately not stopping them for future behaviors).

Fifth, then you start looking at if the idea is plausible given external factors.
a - are there other factors influencing the subject? (For example: Standard business practices are _______. )
b - are these factors a more plausible explanation? How do they influence? (For example how do crime, a higher number of uninsured drivers, more stoned drivers influence insurance rates?)
c - do these different positions have a degree of interconnectiveness (Can it be a combo of A and B?)
e - is the person dismissing other factors? (Basically claiming "NO! It's all about A!")
f - seek to find actual reasons why such an interpretation doesn't stand up, it's a whole lot more than an emotional "You're wrong."*** 

 Sixth, ask if this person is aware of these other factors or bring them up in a non-confrontational manner. ("Are you factoring in _____") 

Seventh, if you must refute the position: Make it about the position, NOT about the person. (Know this courtesy will often not be returned.) 

Eight, know that certain canned doctrines are both very predictable in how they are presented AND the holes are consistent. When you derail those who are parroting, expect hostility. The faster they resort to that, the more you know you've got a Kool-Aid drinker. (No matter how much they pretend to be educated, informed and 'reasonable' about the subject.) 

Nine, if someone comes up with some solid points that refute your position, consider them. It might just change your mind. 

Running the early steps will get you thinking rather than just reacting emotionally and from pre-existing biases. It also helps to keep you from going tribal and protecting the ideology of 'us' against the evils of 'them.' (But at the same time, you'll be able to spot when someone is coming at you from a position of 'you're one of them!') 

*Basically, without including external factors, does it make sense? (As opposed to "_______ exists because it's part of the Gray Lizard Men's conspiracy.") 

** Does the idea stand up to the bigger ideas espoused by an ideology, or is this a perversion of those? (e.g., Christianity vs. the Inquisition) 

*** At best, ‘you're wrong’ turns it into a debate (you're trying to win) vs. a dialectic (discussing different viewpoints to gain understanding). Far more common it just devolves into an argument, attitude and insults.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

You Can't Defend Yourself Any More

So have I become a Right-Wing Gun Nut? Have I become ‘political?’ No. Not really. Kinda and “Houston, we have a problem.”

How’s that for being as clear as mud? Let me put it to you this way. I have some really bad news. I’m not being political because I want to. I’m doing it because politics have come to violence. But far worse, your ‘right’ to defend yourself is damned near gone.

Gone not like a Great White Shark that eats half of you in a single bite, but gone like a piranha feeding frenzy. Death comes from countless little bites from many sources. This time though the bites have been taken out over the years. Some of them are political, some are legal, some are ideological and a thunderin’ herd of them are bureaucratic (ass covering and careerism). Now if that isn’t bad enough, there’s a rise in behaviors that lead to violence. Putting it bluntly you’re losing your right to defend yourself at the same time there’s a growing need for it.

That is going to take some explaining, so I ask that you bear with me. As this is a long post you might want to go get some coffee.

I am now and always have been about helping people be able to defend themselves from violence. Furthermore, I have spent my entire life dealing with and studying violence. Not only the act itself and the circumstances under which violence happens, but what leads up to it and the aftermath. eight points about that.

 # 1 - When you know the processes and behaviors that lead to violence, you can see when trains are heading for a collision.

The same goes for attitudes, beliefs, rhetoric and justifications that typically end up with blood on the floor. What you’ll also recognize is the emotional and self-righteous look in the eyes of most people doing them – just before the floor gets wet.

I’ll give you an analogy, back in the day when someone put “Dirty Water” by the Shandells on the jukebox, you knew the rougher elements were past working their way up to a rumble and things were about to kick off. Well, with certain groups, we’re past the opening riff and someone wants to tell us a story...

Put a push pin in this... we’ll come back to it.

#2 - Over the years, , I’ve looked into the heart of darkness...uh ... I mean our legal system.

Which, in case you don’t know, has a lot to do with what is– and isn’t– allowed as self-defense. With the rise of intolerance towards violence, I’ve seen a correlating free fall of being able to effectively claim self-defense. While still legally allowed, it’s almost impossible to meet the ‘standards’ they’ll demand of you. Basically, if you can’t afford a top of the line defense attorney, then you have to be an expert in violence and explain how you knew you were in danger. If you can’t do either, don’t claim self-defense and accept the plea deal they’ll offer.

#3 - Somebody has to go to jail.

Let me tell you about life back in the pterodactyl days. A great deal of violence was resolved with the cop giving fighters a choice, go home or you’ll both get arrested. Kids ‘fighting’ both got detention, the cops were seldom called. A low level domestic was handled by telling the guy to find another place to spend the night. If he returned and the cops were called again he’d not only be arrested, but get his ass kicked on the way to jail. Now this isn’t pining for the good ol’ days, it’s to point out that cops were allowed a lot more discretion about arresting back in the day. Now, it’s not just ‘mandatory arrest’ laws, but CYA– including the police departments covering theirs. See here’s something you might not know, while the police can’t be successfully sued for not protecting an individual, they can be sued if they had grounds to arrest, let someone go and later that person comes back and does something based on that arrest that didn’t happen. (For example, letting a drunk driver go and he/she later kills someone in an ‘accident.’) Now what do you think that’s going to do to what the Brass tells patrol officers? I’ll give you a hint, there’s a lot less slack being cut out there. In fact, I tell people – and it’s a clumsy sentence so read it slowly – “It’s harder for an officer to not arrest someone and explain that decision to his superiors later, than it is to make a weak arrest.”

You also need to know that once the arrest is made, you’re in the jaws of the system. A system that makes pitbulls look like wimps when it comes to letting go. But, and this is important, you are no longer that cops problem. You’ve been passed along and are now –officially and rubber stamped– someone else’s problem. That same sentiment applies to school districts and zero tolerance. Instead of handling things in house and risking liability, call the cops and get your kid arrested.

Oh and add in the local government using police as a form of unofficial taxation. The raw truth is a big part of the reason Ferguson Missouri went up in flames is that sixty percent of the city’s funding came from the police tickets and fines. Busting you for carrying a weapon ‘illegally’ is a good way to make money and keep you disarmed.

#4 - ‘Violence never solved anything.’

Never mind how stupid this attitude is, have you ever considered that it’s an extremist position? I’m serious, that sweet sounding cliche is absolutist propaganda. The problem is we’ve been beaten over the head with it so much that we don’t realize it anymore. ‘Never’ is an awfully big word. One that not only covers every living person on the planet, but through out all of human history and everyone who has ever lived. Yes. It’s that big. Also given that it is presented as an absolute, using the associated ‘classical logic,’ if there’s one exception, then it’s false. So starting with me, I can say “Yes, yes, violence has solved a number of problems for me,” which makes that absolute statement false.

The problem is people have been indoctrinated into believing it’s true – of even if they don’t, they’re afraid to stand up to it and call ‘bullshit.’ (Yeah, I kind of missed that memo.) It’s a short step from believing that to believing that all violence is wrong. Unfortunately, many people haven’t just taken that step, but did a running leap. Despite all the wailing and gnashing of teeth about how our society glorifies violence, most people are really uncomfortable about the subject. To the point, they don’t believe in self-defense, but view all violence as bad and only ‘bad people’ do it. This is especially true, if they’ve drank the Kool-Aid that all violence is abuse (excepting their own, of course.)

Sound hyperbolic? Let me ask you, what do you think your chances are for going to prison for defending yourself are if the jury consists of people who believe “Violence never solved anything?”

#5- And now finally we get to ‘gun control.’ Which is flat out, no holds barred, political.

But more than that, it is very much an attack on your right to defend yourself. Never mind all the bullshit about resisting tyranny or saving the children that the gun control is normally framed in. Gun control disarms the people who needs them the most.

#6 - And if it doesn’t disarm them, it makes them criminals...

You know the kind of people who get arrested for breaking the law. (Brace yourself -- this is a big one.) To truly understand how screwed up this is, we have to go back to the framers of the Constitution. Oddly enough, it does relate to tyranny. See back in Merry Old England you had the nobles and the powerful. Now things had changed a bit and they weren’t in absolute power anymore, but they had this work around. It was called having someone on the police force and in the legal system ‘on their side.’ Basically, if you pissed them off, they’d have the cops and courts screw you. One of their favorite tricks was to throw out a bill of attainder that declared you an outlaw. Not in the romantic sense that evokes in our media baked minds, but outside the protection of the law. Without a trial you were officially labeled a criminal, your lands and properties were seized, your family given the boot, and well not to put too fine of a point on it but, anybody could kill you on sight and not face charges. You were ‘outside the law,’ and straight up, there was nothing you could do about it. All it took was a pissed off noble and you were criminal and, while we’re at it, screw you.

This is why Article I, Section 9, paragraph 3 of the Constitution reads: "No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law will be passed." That is an incredibly important protection of citizen’s rights and part of our legal system. (Where you can only be charged, tried and punished [if convicted] for a specific crime.) Citizens cannot be stripped of their rights, thrown into prison, or executed without due process and on specific crimes. There’s just one little problem...

We actually do have a professional criminal class– and they are armed and violent. This is a really mixed bag of good news, bad news and just plain old ugly news. Good news, there’s nobody more likely to get shot and killed by a violent criminal than another violent criminal. Bad news, while a nearly 100% of people who are killed every years have recent criminal records and involvement in criminal lifestyle, there’s enough slop over that innocent people also get killed. Ugly news is even though we know what they are and what they’re doing, we can’t just throw a bill of attainder on them and execute/imprison them ‘just because.’ That means there’s all kinds of ugly out there roaming the streets. It has to be allowed to roam free because of the abuses that happen when the government can just rule someone an outlaw and/or deserves it. More ugly news, you know all those ‘children killed by guns?’ Well, look at gangs. Most of those dead ‘children’ were gang members. Oh and for those who say “What about all the five year olds who die by guns, were THEY in a gang?” Go look into those deaths with an eye towards relationship and/or proximity with a gangmember. I recommend buying a bottle of brown liquor before you do. You’re going to find these evil bastards will open fire on their gangsta target even if he’s holding a baby. (Whether that baby is his own or a sibling.)

Another fun filled dash of bad news is the very people who need guns the most are innocent folks who live in high crime areas. If you understand how crime happens you’ll understand were owning – and even carrying– a gun isn’t just a good idea, it is, literally, a survival strategy. This without being a criminal yourself.

That is until laws are passed saying you can’t or that the government either
a) makes it impossible for you to comply to their standards
b) sets restrictions and then stonewalls anybody who tries to meet them. (This is actually more common than the first – especially in ‘may issue’ states).

Those ideas set the stage for the biggest bad news of all. It has to do with that blind eye America has.

While the government cannot officially declare someone guilty of being a criminal just because who they are, lock them away the key, we –and the government– know these suckers exist. The blind eye comes in to main flavors:

A - We’ve turned it towards all the laws that have been passed to nail them and keep them in line.
The government can’t do a bill of attainder, but it can pass so many laws that you can be arrested for breathing too hard and looking cross-eyed. The idea being that it gives them reason to arrest, harass and keep the ‘criminals’ in check even if they can’t get the criminal on what they’re doing. Think Al Capone getting nailed for income tax evasion instead of murders, bootlegging, and other crimes. The natural problem with that is those same laws are being used on different sections of the population. Sections, who, if you remember point number one, are flat out furious about how they’ve been treated.

 B - Is how we’ve let the legal system ‘take out the trash for us’ – at the expense of your right to defend yourself.

Let me ask you a question. Can a criminal act in self-defense? It turns out no matter how you answer it comes back to the idea of a professional criminal class and no bill of attainders. (It’s why we spent so much time on them). See legally, it’s not that cut and dried as you might think. While you cannot claim self-defense if you are in commission of a felony, at the same time, the law can’t say you’re a 24/7 criminal (hence you have no right to self-defense). To throw another level of complexity on it, this includes the consequences of an alleged, other crime.

The example I use is let’s say you’re a drug dealer. I – and maybe a few friends– decide to rob you. Criminals ripping off other criminals is arguably more common than other kinds of robbery. (Arguably because surprise, surprise, these aren’t reported to police.) Wearing a mask you don’t recognize me, the robbery goes down and I get away. Later, while trying to impress a woman into sleeping with me by bragging, someone else over hears me, comes to you and says I’m the guy who ripped you off. You’re so infuriated, you grab a gun, come looking for me, and when you see me, you try to shoot me. Unfortunately, luck is not with you and I’m quicker on the draw. Was that self-defense? Legally speaking (not the legal system, but how the laws are written) that would be yes. At the time you tried to shoot me, I was not committing a felony. I was trying to get laid. As to the previous robbery, that is an alleged crime that has not been proven. So looking at that incident independent of anything else, you came in and tried to kill me. I shot first and killed you. Viola! Self-defense I’m going to walk out of that court room a free man and go back to me evil and violent ways.

Yeah, except people and the legal system don’t work that way. Evil people must be punished. This isn’t just the Prosecutor, this is the jury too. So if there is any way the Prosecutor can get the evidence introduced that it was two ‘ebbel drug dealers’ guess who isn’t going to walk? Now you got one dead drug dealer and one drug douchebag in prison for murder. Problem solved for society, right? Umm sorta. See after SODDI (Some Other Dude Did It) ‘self-defense’ is the most common claim for illegal violence. Yeah, right sure... you stabbed the dude 27 time, 11 in the back and you’re claiming self-defense?

So between denying that self-defense exists for criminals and actual ‘what you did wasn’t self-defense’ our legal system is a slaughterhouse if you actually did act in self-defense. How bad is this? I actually had a public defender in the second largest city in the state tell me, “There’s no such thing as self-defense in _____.”

That brings us to...

#7 - You can trust us. You, on the other hand, can’t be trusted.

I have personally witnessed a woman state, in the presence of nine officers with holstered pistols openly carried, “I wouldn’t be comfortable around guns.” Wait, what? Nine guns in plain view. (And those were only the ones visible. There were at least ten cops in plain clothes, the Mayor himself* and– since this was about repealing a gun ordinance– maybe 50 permit holder, legally carrying in the room.)

Ummm Sweetheart. I think your less concerned about guns than who has them. Or maybe your statement should be, “I’m only comfortable around people with guns when I think I think they’re my servants.” Because I’m pretty sure all those pistols hanging from the cops’ hips didn’t magically become invisible. Now I’m not going to go into all the problem with farming your self-defense and personal safety out to third parties. But I will point out that if women get pissed off when a guy patronizes them with, “Well now little Missy, don’t you worry your purdy lil’ head about that” then that same attitude is just as infuriating (to both men and women) when you’re told your safety will be taken care of.

Infuriating that is unless you’ve bought into it. Up to and including the point where people get pissed at the idea that they are responsible for their own safety. Which if you think about it, the folks who want to take away your ‘right’ to defend yourself are usually the ones who not only have drank that Kool-Aid, but like the taste.

What can I say, I just have a hard time when someone tells me I don’t have the need to defend myself so I should have the means to do so– because I can’t be trusted with it.

#8 - You aren’t allowed to defend yourself if we have the moral high ground.

 Remember that pushpin? The one about ‘knowing what it looks like when violence is coming down the tracks?’ Also how certain attitudes tell you that violence is nigh? Folks, I gotta tell you, I’m seeing that a lot more than I’ve ever seen before. Not just in the sense of individual cases, but entire groups giving the world the hairy eyeball – but especially members of groups they’ve ‘othered.’ One of the things I’ve learned after a lifetime of dealing with violence is there needs to be five components
1- Othering of another
2- A way of thinking that allows for a violent response
3- Justification/Casus belli
4- Opportunity
5- Belief that it will work to get what you want (not just get away with it)

There’s a certain light in the eyes of folks who are collecting these or have them already. Or as I once heard it put “The enemies of reason have a certain look to them. ____ has that look.” There’s a lot of noise over big political ideas, history and wrongs. Take those five components I just told you about and hold those ‘big political ideas’ up that light. Yes there is cause for concern. Big picture wise you might want to keep an eye on that. Because when it comes to big issues, I’m not talking about someone who is pissed over a specific thing, I’m talking about folks who have stewed in and carefully nursed those five components. Sometimes to the point of building their entire identity around them. This typically results in a kind of moral fervor. Whether you call it a crusade or jihad, you have holy warriors –even if it isn’t a religious cause (as you understand the term). And it’s even worse when it’s a mob of like minded people.

Oh and when you have large groups protesting guns? And violent groups that hate other group (for the other’s hate and violence)? Yeah, think about that for a second. I’m not going to go too much into this except to say there’s a ‘switch’ in people’s heads that once it is flipped people not only participate but approve of mob violence. Mobs are flat out dangerous – especially if they’ve targeted you. While due process tends to keep mobs to a minimum, when you have them coming at you, you need a gun and even then that may not be enough. Oh and for the record, before you tell me I’m wrong about mobs, I’m going to suggest you try going through a riot or two. (You’ll still be behind my number, but just one or two so you can speak from experience instead of another orifice.)

Despite all this talk about group ideology and mob mentality, it’s actually a lot more individual and self-defense related. Despite all the rhetoric and denial, there are a great many violent people who justify their violence through their ideology. Big ideology gives them an excuse to go out and attack individuals. This isn’t big, social change. No, this is the kind of fanaticism that comes at you in the parking lot and away from security cameras. Because to that person, you aren’t human. You’re the label he’s hung on you. Basically it’s a monster who thinks he’s right with God because he’s got the right to lash out.

So knowing all these, does that mean I’ve ‘become political?’ Well it kind of depends. How secure do you think your right to self-defense is?

Where I’m sitting I’ve seen it dwindle from a lake to a pond and onto a puddle. Why do you think I’ve shifted my focus from the physical to helping keep you out of prison for defending yourself?

* The Mayor would later give me one of the biggest insults of my life saying. “You’re good. You should go into politics.”

Sunday, March 11, 2018

"I'm a good person." "No you're not."

The self-qualification of 'I'm good' (non-quotes intentional) usually has real mental sloppiness attached.
First let's set a baseline. Being good is a combination of both what you do and what you won't do. Notice won't vs. don't it's important.
Many people self-certify themselves as 'good' because they don't do certain things. Fact of the matter is this -- at best -- qualifies them as neutral. Because most of their 'don't do' list isn't from moral fiber, but lack of opportunity. Given a chance to get away with turns out that they have no hesitation (Example, "I don't steal" -- and then when the checkout clerk misses something expensive.")That's why it's important to tweak it "won't do."
Being good is more than just not doing. At best, it's a bare minimum standard. A lot of people don't even meet that. But many deem themselves as 'good' for their half-assed attempts to meet that standard.
That brings us to doing. What do you do that is scaled towards good? What choices do you make? What actions do you take? What effort do you -- every day -- put into being a good person? What higher standards do you meet to be good?
And that brings us to consistency. Gloria Steinem once said, "From pacifist to terrorist, each person condemns violence - and then adds one cherished case in which it may be justified." What are your cherished exceptions that you give yourself permission to act in ways that you condemn -- in others? But it's okay when you do it because...
How many times a day do you do that?
(The mental gymnastics we have to do when we think in both extremes and in simplistic soundbites about complex issues is a fascinating study.)
Another common failing is to self-certify yourself as a good person, and then, by extension, everything you do is good. You don't even have to think, you're good so, by fault your actions are good* That's real common among people whose behavior is one giant string of exceptions of why it's okay when they do it -- it saves all kind stress and the brain drain of rationalizing.
Still another excuse for bad behavior (doing) is a good and noble reason The other side of that coin is your behavior is in in response to great wrong done to you. Whether that narrative is personal or cultural, it's a green light to harm 'targeted' people.
This explanation really takes it out from the realm of thoughts and words and plants it in deeds. Being a good person is about deeds, not words.
* A more viable approach is "I try to be a good person" this makes it more a process and striving to reach that goal.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Rape Culture Hysteria

I have a problem with the idea of 'rape culture.' It isn't that something like they're describing doesn't exist. It does. The problem I have is it's not just about rape. It's about doing all kinds of things to protect the income and institution -- and that includes the predators inside those. As I often say, "Deep sixing rapes is just one of the many services they offer."
I'm talking all kinds of felonies - up to and including murder -- being swept under the rug.
Part of my concern about screaming rape culture, sexual assault and harassment every thirty seconds is it desensitizes people to a very real fact. When there is an attitude of ‘protect the machine at all costs’ -- literally -- the only thing that can blow hole in the stonewalling is rape. That has been -- until now -- the one thing that can bring down corrupt and rotten systems.
I live not too far from CU Boulder. When I first rolled into town it was an open secret that CU was a fast track 'farm' for the NFL. That's a whole lot of money. Now I want to ask you, how much money is involved for the president of the university to argue cunt isn't necessarily a derogatory term? And I quote,“It can be used as a term of endearment."
Oh and BTW, the president was a woman.
Backstory: A female athlete had been raped by a fast tracked football player. She was basically told by the athletic department, the campus police and by the administration to let it go. She didn't, she went to the Denver press. The U made the appropriate noises and swore they hadn't pressured her and that they were doing proper investigations. 
And then another woman came forward and said, they'd buffaloed her into silence about her rape by a foot ball player too. Then another... then another...
The coach had just given a press conference about how they were taking these issues oh-so-seriously when a reporter saw him walking down the corridor with an assistant coach (without being seen himself). The reporter clicked on the tape recorder and got the head coach saying "This cunt just won't go away."
Yeeeeeah, when that one hit the news things started going real bad for CU athletic department. That was the end of the coach and his staff. In an attempt at damage control president Elizabeth Hoffman uttered that term-of-endearment statement. Oh and guess what? Some months later President Hoffman would step down because of financial misconduct. What they were certain of was about $10 million.
This crap had been going on for a long time. And gawds know all the things they'd successfully covered up and gotten away with. But it was rape that finally torpedoed that well armored battleship.
The Title IX tribunals, the reduction of proof, the media frenzies, the constant barrages, decades old allegations, the entire-lifetime hysteria, the , the 'instead of convict, let's destroy careers,' 'let's make the punishment life-long' and "we don't need no stinkin' legal system to get justice' lynchmob mentality scares the shit out of me.
But it concerns me in a different way too.
The excessive cries of 'rape culture' are having a bad set of unintended consequences. Consequences that are both boon to predators and takes away the one thing that works.
The problem is accusations have been so overblown, abused, politically weaponized and turned into witch hunts, that it's all losing power. While the small perma-mob isn't slowing down, much of the public is getting burned out.
Rape, sexual assault, abuse an harassment have been so conflated, so over-hyped, and so politicized that the public is going past numb to they don't care about sexual misconduct. On a smaller scale... “whatever.” On a larger scale, they're going to elect the guy anyway OR it becomes entertainment watching the self-righteous cannibalize themselves.
Until now, these kinds of 'scandals' have been the only thing that could bring down those stonewalls. Stonewalls that so often protect actual predators and unimaginable levels of corruption. Like I said, losing that scares the hell out of me. Not only because it entrenches this corruption, but that predators (and there are real monsters out there) swim safely behind the protection of -- now -- impenetrable walls. Walls made impenetrable by politics, hysteria and lynch mobs.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Celeste's Suicide (and a few notes about life)

Celeste walked onto the tracks and turned her back on the oncoming train. It was over in a second.

While guns make up a slight majority of completed suicides in the US, they aren't the most reliable way to kill yourself. Trains are. Let's put that in perspective (numbers are rounded off). Over a million 'suicide attempts' occur every year -- usually through alcohol and drugs. As almost half of the 42,000+  successful suicides are drugs/booze, you're talking a hell of a failure rate. The booze and drugs failure lends credibility to the maxim of  "Suicide attempts are attention seeking." The odds of survival are in your favor (20,000 to 1,000,000). Guns are used when you're serious about checking out. But even then there's a slight chance of failure. Trains are for when are dedicated about ending it. Celeste was dedicated.

It's typical to speak of the positive aspects of the dead. Not just in terms of etiquette but especially in eulogy. Okay let's get that out of the way. Celeste was -- last time I saw her -- pretty, intelligent, vivacious, fun and witty. She was the kind of person that had a sparkle to her and was fun to party with. But more than that, one look and you saw amazing potential.

She was also a complete fuck up. If you'll excuse the black humor, she was a train wreck.

I met Celeste at a rough spot in my life. If life can be likened to climbing a ladder; some people climb up, some climb down. Sometimes it's not that cut and dried. I'd spent most of a decade climbing out of the streets and away from poverty, booze, drugs and violence. The relationship that had been a major part of my upward climb had just crashed and burned. (We were both nicer and funnier people when we were drunk, sobriety left us dealing with our demons and each other.) It seriously looked like my attempts to get out of 'The Life'  had failed. I took a job bodyguarding strippers. This wasn't a titty bar, it was a lot more edgy.  How edgy? Not only were we skirting legal lines, it was also during this time that I was shot at-- hopefully for the last time in my life.

Basically I was back in the shit, but I was older and I'd been changed in the decade of trying to be a civilian.  Yes, there are all kinds of wild stories about that time. There was a lot of laughter and good times. But mostly it was a pain in the ass. It was dealing with troubled people, stupidity, issues around booze and drugs, dysfunction and staring into the night waiting for monsters to make a run at us. A bad day at work meant someone died, and that person could have been me. This is not hyperbole, my last night there I faced off three gangbangers who'd come to rob the place. I was facing them in the office with a gun in my hand ready for a shoot out, hoping nobody would do the dumb. (This by the way, wasn't the shoot out I mentioned earlier.)  It was a very dark and dangerous place. Given my headspace, it was one of the crossroads of my life.

Celeste was one of the dancers. The darkness of the environment is a big part of why she shined so bright. But like all of us there, she had her own darkness and demons. Her ending up on the train tracks tells you who won.

Remember that ladder I mentioned? Well first off, it's a lot easier to go down than it is to go up.  If you're climbing up (or hell even just hanging on at a rung) you're going to see a lot of people slide past you on their way down. Still others you'll be with them on the same rung for a while before they keep climbing. I tell you that because there's an important factor in all that: age.

See what a lot of people don't realize is the ladder is a long haul. In the long run what gets you up the ladder (and keeps you up there) are skills, effort and developing resources. Those take time and dedication to develop. There isn't a single element that you can point at and say "That's what you need."  It's a combination of elements that work together and the results build on each other. But more importantly, they form the ability to move up to -- and stay at -- the next rung of the ladder.

Conversely, what's called 'baggage' not only weighs you down, but pulls you down.  If you've got a darkness in you, it's real easy to slide down the ladder. I tell you this because when you're young you have the energy to power through. You can push back against it and hold steady at a rung for a while.

That was Celeste in a nutshell. She wasn't just a party girl, she made us laugh. She had a zeal and gusto for experience and adventure and absolutely no filter between brain and mouth. For good or bad she'd respond to whatever stimuli she was receiving. She'd take complete delight in the feel of the ocean breeze and sunlight in her face, at the same time she'd be repelled by a bad smell. As a friend of mine observed, "She experiences the same things you and I do, but she has no filter -- instead of ignoring it, she reacts." (This after he and I kept on going through a rank smell, but she recoiled.)

It was a combination of this zeal and lack of both inhibition and malice that made her so fun to be around. At the same time, older people looked at her and wanted to help her prepare fol later life. We all tried to help her develop  those skills and resources necessary for later life. Resources, not just about climbing the ladder, but at least not sliding down when her energy began to wane with age. A waning that we knew was coming, but she didn't.

She rebuffed all efforts. Know that she'd been diagnosed with ADD. Her parents  had divorced and were their own unique bundles of dysfunction. She also lacked an internal moral code, sense of propriety and understanding of consequences.  In that sense, she was almost like an alien. She simply couldn't understand the unspoken rules of society. They made no sense to her. She couldn't understand why she got in trouble when -- one slow night -- she got bored and climbed up on the roof of work. She also didn't understand why I got so upset with her about the kitten.  An abandoned kitten had shown up on her doorstep. She took it in fed and gave it shelter. A few days later I showed up and asked where the kitten was and she told me it was dead. I asked what had happened and she said she realized it was a burden so she fed it a good meal, petted it and then snapped it's neck.   I hit the roof. She honestly didn't understand why I was so upset. As far as she was concerned she'd made the kitten's life the best it could have been. Since she didn't have a car she felt she couldn't take it to the animal shelter, so killing it was the best and most rational decision. A decision that was both minimum effort on her part. She was hurt and offended that I was yelling at her. She thought she'd done good by making it comfortable and happy before killing it. She honestly couldn't see why it was wrong no matter how hard I tried to explain it to her.

Yeah, about that...

Knowing what I know now I recognize that Celeste was locked in what Time Perspective Theory is known as present perspective.  That can go in one of two ways, hedonistic and fatalistic. Basically the idea is how we look at time influences our behaviors, emotions and ability to plan for the future.  When it's hedonistic you live for sensation. When it's fatalistic your attitude is nothing will ever change so why bother? Celeste eventually slid into that state and walked onto the train tracks.

Tying that idea to the ladder analogy, many young people feel that because they have the energy to hold things at a rung, they don't need to invest time and energy into developing skills and resources. Even if they do, many people from dysfunctional background have a specific set of challenges. If you were raised without certain elements, you don't know they're missing. If you are told about them , there's a different set of issues. Since most people aren't consciously aware of these standards, they suck at explaining them. (Quick, why was killing the kitten the wrong thing to do?) So usually what happens is they end up yelling at that person with no real explanation other than "no, bad wrong!" Even if someone can explain the reasons, there's the challenge of getting the person to assign value to the ideas. For example: "Why should I have to show up at work on time?" (That's a major thing about not choosing to party the night before -- a common problem with present oriented people.) Finally there's the massive amount of work to 'catch up.'  See if you come from a dysfunctional background, you weren't taught certain things (or you were given a twisted interpretation). Normal people get it at a certain age. In the ten years you spend wrestling with the screwed up version you were taught, normal people have 10 years of practicing meeting that standard. If and when you finally do assign it value, you either have to double time it to catch up with your age group or settle for a stunted version.

Or you can go fatalistic, like Celeste. She'd made all kinds of bad decisions about not developing what it would take to get off that rung and time had caught up with her. After years of taking the easy route she'd slid further and further down the ladder. Using another analogy, her life choices had dug her into a hole and she saw no way out of avoiding the consequences so she chose to kill herself rather than go on with the results.

I tell you this because remember I mentioned I was at a crossroads of my life? The darkness was calling me back with its sirens call.  One of my favorite images comes from the artist Ursula Vernon, where a fuzzy critter walks by a pointing sign to the abyss, at the edge a voice from below offers "We have cookies." A big cookie temptation was the amount of money I was making bodyguarding. But then life decided to slam me again and my Dad's cancer came back. Family politics and bullshit aside, that became "My Watch."  It was only up in Oregon that they thought they had a chance to beat it. So I loaded up the car and left California for the last time. The crossroads? I made my choice. I was going back up the ladder.

It was also the last time I saw Celeste. It would be ten years before she stepped out onto the train tracks. It was that decision that told me what had happened. She kept on slipping down.  The life of a stripper isn't an easy one. It takes its toll on a person. Looks fade, boobs sag and hearts harden. In direct correlation to that, the easy money dwindles. The person is left with no skills, no resources and nothing she can use to even hang onto a rung. So the slide happens.

It would be ten more years before I found out about her death.  You can come a long way in twenty years if you keep climbing. I'm married, have a career, a stable life, respect and status and an extended family. Celeste ended up strewn along the railroad tracks.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

What Criminals With Guns?

Ask yourself: What is the one element that is present in most shootings by another person?

I'm not talking suicides by gun (which typically are three times more common than gun homicides and usually make up just over half of all suicides.[1]) I'm talking about being killed or wounded by a firearm in the hands of another person. Or, hell, even shot at.

Before I go on let me point something out. Something that has a major influence on why there's an elephant in the room. An elephant that not only the government isn't talking about; the cops know it, but don't make official statements or talk about it in court; and gun control advocates are mum about too. The idea is found in what's called a "bill of attainder." The U.S. Constitution prohibits them as do the constitutions of all 50 states.

So what is a bill of, writ of, act of attainder? From the dictionary: Under English common law, the state of having lost one's legal and civil personhood, as through losing the legal capacity to own or pass on property.

In plain English it's when you're condemned by the state as a criminal (or traitor) without trial or specific charge. You're -- literally -- declared an outlaw. Not in the romantic bad ass sense of the word, but meaning you're outside the protection of the law. Civil rights? You don't have any.
 Protection by the law? Nope. Sure they can shoot you down like a rabid dog on sight. But more than that they can put you in prison without trial and throw away the key. The cashier's check about this, however, is anything you own can be seized by the powers that be -- again without trial or chance to defend yourself. Taking this a step further, it's not necessarily a specific crime, it's just that you are... you know... a criminal and therefore deserve all this happening to you.

"No bills of attainder allowed" doesn't sound like a big thing, but quite frankly you don't want the government to have the ability to write them up. It's been abused way too often in the past by the rich and powerful. They tell someone in the court, "This guy pissed me off" and 'viola!' you're a state certified outlaw. You're on the run, everything you own is seized, your family is destitute, and helping you isn't just a crime, but giving you a hand will get those folks the same treatment.

As an individual in the U.S. you can only be charged with a specific crime.[2] This nix on bills of attainder is why -- if you listen very carefully -- you'll not hear cops, lawyers, lawmakers, or others refer to someone as 'a criminal' (on the record), but more commonly refer to the person as "involved in criminal activity." While you might hear someone referred to as a career criminal that's both dancing close to the line and still the person can only be charged for specific crimes. While 'career criminal' acknowledge the individual is making his livelihood through criminal activities, it's not branding the individual as an outlaw for just breathing. It does, however, have a lot to do with sentencing. (Habitual is another common term.)

Now to the average person this 'you can't label someone a criminal' sounds stupid. Because we all know there are criminals. We know the cops and courts know there are criminals. If you've dealt with them, you know it's not just a career it's a way of life and mindset. But if you're in the government, a cop, a psychiatrist, or associated with the legal system there are the folks called, 'lawyers.' Lawyers can make a mountain out of a molehill and cause all kinds of problems if an official pronounces someone 'a criminal' and tries to punish them for that general condition. Now this whole 'the government can't call someone a criminal' may sound silly to you, but it's kind of like political correctness. And like PC, it has fangs because of the rules and lawyers.

So guess what is not tracked on a national level when it comes to shootings?

You got it, criminal records and behavior. It is tracked on a local level because it has a lot to do with the investigation into the shooting. Oh and by the way, no matter what you've heard or think: The cops can't blow off a homicide investigation just because the guy was a criminal. Nope, death of a citizen must be investigated. They may do a sloppy, half-assed job because they know he's a douche, but they can't officially ignore it. It has to be investigated especially if it results in a corpse.

In case you didn't get it, the answer to the 'what element is present' question is criminal behavior.

When it comes to gun deaths and shootings, crime is more important than race. It is more important than age. It is more important than income. It is more important than sex. And it definitely has a lot to do with who is pulling the trigger and why. That's why it's 'absence' in official numbers is a serious, "Hold the phone." As in how the hell can you have a rational conversation about guns without it?

The answer is you can't.

This is more suggestive of an agenda than actually looking at the subject of guns, shootings, and deaths. The bottom line is in the U.S. we have a professional, armed criminal class who shoot each other with distressing regularity. They in fact make up most of (nonsuicide) gunshot 'victims.'

Now while I say, "When it comes to crime there are no statistics that are worth wiping your ass with,"[3] I'm going to have to use them to demonstrate a point. It varies from year to year, city to city, but -- in places where homicides are common -- the rate of homicide victims who have criminal records typically range between 90 percent to 100 percent. Oh and guess what?
The same majority applies to the shooters themselves. As one cop from a mid-sized city once told me, "In the twenty years I have been on the force, we've never had a homicide where the victim was not known to the police."

So yeah crime and shootings? Big connection.



Let's talk about some ugly realities here. First, if you keep on using that phrase what do you mean by 'children?' Do you mean anybody under the age of eighteen? Because where I'm from we call anyone past the age of twelve a "teen."

Those ages ten years between two and twelve are "children." And under two babies, infants, or toddlers. The term children typically implies that two to twelve period. (Although legal standards usually go to fourteen and anyone above that is a minor.) Under twelve, however, are not the majority of people under eighteen being shot.\

In fact, according to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report the by age break down of all homicides of minors in 2015 was:
Infant, 182
1-4, 328
5-8, 75
9-12, 78
13-16, 456
17-19, 1,349
Additionally (and for comparison)
20-24, 2,834

Now that's homicides by all means, not just guns. (While very few infants or toddlers are shot, most are killed by abuse and neglect.) Notice the rise in numbers starting with the teens.

Once again we are facing something that is deliberately not tracked on a national level, but is one of those 'criminal thaings.' And that is gang affiliation.

But let's talk about gang affiliation. Not just membership. Gang members make up a majority of teens who are shot and killed. But also on that list are people who know, are related to, and -- often -- are in physical proximity to a gang member (who is the actual target). This especially means other minors. Oh and do you want to know the fastest way for a teenage girl to get shot? Try screwing or partying with a gang member. It's all fun and games until the other side shows up, and bullets start flying.

When you talk about these issues, the common anti-gun and gun control advocate will try to zig and start talking about all the five- and six-year-olds who are shot. After all those children couldn't be in a gang at that age. Nor are they willingly affiliating with them.

Well this will make you want to scream. First, yes, a four-year-old isn't likely to be a gang member, but that child is often in proximity to his or her Baby Daddy -- who is in a gang. Oh and *is* the target. The same goes for younger siblings of gang members. Turns out other gangs aren't really concerned about who gets caught in the crossfire.

Then comes the real disgusting element of how many gangs and criminal organization use children -- actual seven-, eight-, nine- and ten-year-old children-- as part of their criminal enterprises. Talk to older gang members and try to find some who didn't grow up as a hangers on or were being used as mules and look-outs. And yes if a drive-by shooting or assassination happens there's a good chance these children will be caught in the cross fire between warring criminal groups.

So even legitimately innocent children are swept up in criminal gun violence. Not as many as gang member minors, but innocent children. Wanna try and take them away? Oh great, if your try now you're involving child protective services, family court, and parental rights. Welcome to a whole new can of worms.

Now I want to address how a small percentage of children are deliberately killed by firearms. That is in mass shootings, commonly in the form of familial murders and suicides. This isn't 'crime related' nearly as much as it's a family member going off the deep end. Usually the father who kills his family then himself. But often enough not to be uncommon, it's a sibling who also kills parents. (I should say I was once woken up by the sound of gunfire as a father -- who'd killed his two children -- committed suicide by cop by opening up on the local police station. I also have a friend who survived a familial murder/suicide incident so I'm not talking in the abstract about this.) I'm going to redirect your attention to 2015 homicide numbers by age. Then I will point out that of the tens of thousands of gun deaths these are -- if not under 100 -- in the low hundred plus. It happens and it is a horrible tragedy.

Criminal activity ranks in the hundreds of thousands when it comes to homicides and shootings, especially when we factor in robberies using firearms. One source put the 2015 firearm robberies at 123,358.

(Look at the third footnote. Odds are those numbers are extremely low. You also have to factor in the numbers of 'shots fired' reports when the police showed everyone was gone because nobody got hit.)

Oh and BTW, a University of Chicago/Duke study found criminals are armed because they fear each other more than the police. It also found that most firearms in the hands of criminals are acquired by illegal means (i.e., criminal networks).

So yeah in case you missed it: In the U.S. we have a professional criminal class. Criminals who are both heavily armed and who have a bad habit of shooting each other. And they aren't too persnickity about 'civilian casualties.' Now while the average citizen might return the lack of concern and say, "Good, let them kill each other" that isn't how the government works.
Nor should you want a government that takes that line.

Something that does concern Joe and Jane Civilian, however, is when criminals stop shooting each other and aim their guns at... well... Joe and Jane. This is of particular importance to people who work behind the counters of establishments likely to be robbed. In other words, civilians tend to get cranky about criminals pointing guns at them. And face it, it happens -- especially in high crime areas.

Now what you may not know is that high crime areas are not exclusive to poor neighborhoods. Nope. Have you ever heard the term "Robbery Corridor?" It's the one-half to a mile 'corridor' on either side of a freeway and nearby on/off ramps. Businesses located here-- especially cash heavy ones -- are more likely to be robbed than businesses farther away from the freeways. Why? Simple, easier escapes. Jump on the freeway and you're gone. There are various 'crime tracker' sights that show both the types of crime and locations.

You'll also see personal robberies go way up in popular social and night time locations with multiple exit routes. In other words, you're more likely to be mugged while out for dinner and a movie than you are stopping off to pick up your dry cleaning after work.

The fact is very few people who are not involved in criminal lifestyles are ever going to get shot, get shot at, or -- as there are a huge number of unreported robberies and rip offs in the criminal world -- get robbed by a criminal. But that doesn't mean you aren't at risk.

The fact of the matter is you -- whether you know it or not -- probably travel in and out of high crime areas every day and its your lifestyle choices that have a lot to do with your chances of running into a criminal. High crime areas are often safe to go into during the day, but not so much at night. For example in Denver, one of the higher crime areas is downtown where during the day, it's business. At night, it's leisure and entertainment... and robberies and theft.

You've got a good chance of being the victim of a violent crime if you live in a city. This is especially true if you use the same 'accounting' as the alarmist agenda people and include your entire lifetime. (Although for bragging rights, I do have to admit it's been more than 20 years since I was last shot at -- I've never gone that long in my entire life.)

Also, if you live long enough there's a good chance of being on the ground when something bad happens. (Another example, I spent the LA Riots in '92, sitting on my porch, reading, and smoking my pipe with a shotgun next to me as the riots came within two miles of my house.) Seeing mobs run up and down the streets burning and looting forever answered the question of 'why would anyone need a high capacity magazine?' I saw the rioters turned back on live TV. Oh and in case you're wondering, 2000-2010 was the first decade of my life when I wasn't caught in a riot or just down the road from one. I'm going for two consecutive decades in 2020. It makes up for the multiples I dealt with in the '90s. What can I say? Fun times... not.

So let's get real. When people argue for gun control don't let them distract you from the issue of crime. But especially don't let them get away with using statistics that ignore criminal activity. Because while politicians, academics, and gun control proponents can ignore the connection of gun violence and criminals, you can't.

But now you can point out that yes, there's a deliberate attempt to ignore the fact that criminals have guns. Your right to self-defense and gun ownership is strongly tied to this fact.


1) Although interestingly enough while there are commonly three-million-two-hundred- thousand-plus suicide attempts in the U.S. Attempted suicides by firearms typically only numbers in the low hundreds. Yes you read that right, firearms are-- technically speaking -- the leading means of suicide, but are statistically meaningless in suicide attempts. Drug and booze overdoses are the second most common means of suicide, but -- again talking the majority -- also are the most common attempted suicide methods. (Source: Centers for Disease Control

2)  The work-around for that is using the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), but that is when you're part of an organization that is deemed criminal and arising from specific charges.

3)  Yes, it's a big statement. Let's start with any solid number that is given as 'proof' is incorrect. I don't care who it's from.

Issue number one - If it's from 'official sources' (Federal Bureau of Investigation , Bureau of Justice Statistics, Center for Disease Control) it is based on reported crimes. A lot of shit goes down that isn't reported. Mainly because it's between criminals. Which remember, no bills of attainder, so it's still a crime.

Issue number two - What definitions and standards are used? Really, really important. For example, the FBI defines mass shootings as four or more people killed excluding the shooter. (Understandable given murder/suicides and rampage shootings.) Whereas other organizations include both wounded and the shooter in their definition of 'mass shootings.' So how many mass shootings happened in a particular year? It depends on the definition. Official numbers tend to be low because of this.

Issue number three - Are the numbers provided accurate? Seriously, we're talking business and politics having a vested interests in not accurately reporting how much crime occurs.

Issue number four - Remember lies, damned lies and statistics? (Go read "How to Lie with Statistics" by Daryl Huff.) I'll give you a hint. An area with zero homicides for ten years will demonstrate a 100 percent increase for the year if someone is killed.

Issue number five - Estimated numbers. Yeeeeeeah, some lie low, some lie high-- especially when your funding is based on the size of the crisis you are reporting on. Basically, the idea is to take the known low numbers and make up huge numbers to warrant your funding.

Issue number six - Redefinition of crime. Basically the exact reverse of number two with a heap of the motive for number five included. Instead of narrowing the definition, expanding them. For example, rape is no longer defined only as forced penetration. Add in drunk sex, throw in "sexual assault" (up to including a boob bump) and 'attempted' rapes and estimates and the numbers explode.

Number seven is yearly variances. Let's say there are ten shooting victims per year in a city over five years. For the last two years, all shooting 'victims' were criminals. The year before that there was a murder of a non-criminal (so the rate of criminals as victims dropped to 90 percent) before that it was 100 percent criminal. This year, there was a familial murder suicide where ex lost it, shot his former wife and two kids, then himself. (Excluding the shooter only 70 percent of the people shot and killed were criminals for that year.) Those are going to change the percentages. In tracking homicide averages for the last five years do you use the mean, the median, or the mode? Because each will give you different numbers.  All statistically sound.

The best I can do to accurately convey understanding is to provide actual numbers when ever possible and when using statistics say they typically range between ___ and ___ .