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Video Special – UTG 2: Under the Gun Fo Reelz This Time

For your Halloween enjoyment.

Shooting Guns In Space

I was asked a question recently about shooting a firearm in space, specifically on the Moon but we’ll treat it as space generally and hit some specifics about the moon that are different. We’ll focus on normal “Earth guns”. That is guns that are designed to work on planet Earth within all of the environmental conditions present on the planet.

Shooting in space generally:
We’re going to ignore things like calibre, bullet weight and velocity and just focus on the most trivial bits here first. Shooting a pistol in space would probably not be very mundane but for a few microseconds if we assume that the weapon isn’t exposed to direct sunlight. It could get downright deadly to the shooter though. Space is not just big but super cold. It’s about the coldest environment you could think of. Not much of anything in the universe is much colder, especially if the sun isn’t shining directly on you. Assuming that it’s not then the gun is going to be something crazy like -400 degrees F and change.

At these kinds of temperatures the metal in the gun itself would tend to be very brittle and upon firing it would almost certainly explode unless made from an alloy designed to be flogged near absolute zero. The exploding pieces would be moving at approximately 2/3 of the burn rate of the powder and would certainly wound, if not chew up very badly, the astronaut as well as his space suit so he’d be hurt generally and exposed to the vacuum of space in short order and have his blood likely sucked from his body from any holes that managed to get poked in his skin. Perfect way to ruin a space suit and a day and a pistol.

If the gun was not in the shadow but instead exposed to the sunlight then the side of it that’s lit would rapidly heat while the other side soaks the heat. This would result in some parts of the gun reaching over 200 degrees Fahrenheit and other parts reaching -200 until equilibrium was reached. There’s no air in space so the cool side of the gun wouldn’t conduct and transfer the heat effectively to anything else which means the whole gun will soon be ridiculously hot. This will almost certainly cause malfunctions of the mechanism. Some parts would swell while others might contract. Slide rails and cylinder hands and all the little bits inside the gun that fit so tightly would begin to fit too tightly or not tightly enough and there’s a strong probability that the gun just would not fire. If it did fire there’s a near certainty of some kind of malfunction for anything semi-auto. Revolvers would probably fare pretty well though and single shots might be physically unaffected depending on how robustly they’re constructed.

If it did fire while sizzling hot then the ammo is going to be hot from baking in the chamber and you’re going to find a dangerously overpressure round as your first one and they’ll get worse as you keep (if you can) firing. Eventually you’ll see a kaboom and the brass case will open up and things will get 20 kinds of bad suddenly, very similarly to shooting the gun when it’s -450F and it explodes but this will be higher energy but also probably less destructive to the shooter. Metal is still pretty darned strong when heated to modest temps of a few hundred degrees and so the gun probably wouldn’t explode so much as you’d see the mag launched from the gun, the slide stop broken, a burst cartridge case and that sort of thing. The same sort of thing you’d see from a kaboom on a range on Earth. For a revolver, a loose cylinder gap could be utilized to accommodate the potential for large over-pressures.

Special ammo could be created that’s ultra-high temp compatible but because space is burning hot in the light and freezing cold in the shadow it would almost certainly be either very inconsistent or not very powerful. If something isn’t consistent you don’t want to make it very powerful. Makes hiding from the blast when necessary a harder thing to identify as being necessary.

There’s also the problem of inertia. In space proper, you hold a pistol and shoot directly away from you. Well, unless you’re braced against something that can provide counter thrust then you’re going to be pushed backwards away from the direction the bullet was launched. The bullet will continue forever in a straight line until acted on by a force like gravity or impacting something. So will the shooter. The bullet will move hugely fast but you will not unless the gun you were using was a howitzer. You’ll move backwards from your firing position at a speed relative to the total energy being projected. The bullet will get half and you’ll get half. So if the bullet has 300lbs/ft/sec of energy, so will you and you’ll move away at a speed reflective of that input energy which would be fairly slow even by terrestrial standards.

Shooting On The Moon:
So we’ve dealt with the bits of shooting while floating in space which is where the danger really resides. All of those problems are present on the moon. Light at 250F and dark at -400F is one thing. Micro-gravity is another problem of its own.

Apart from the fact that shooting a firearm on the moon would be a violation of international treaty it could be pretty dangerous too depending on the gun. Since gravity is weaker there the bullet will drop slower meaning if you’re not careful about weapon and ammo selection you might just shoot forward away from yourself and end up with the bullet hitting yourself in the back a few hours later. That would require a nasty fast bullet and is really borderline hyperbole but it’s still potentially true. The bullet’s maximum horizontal range – the distance it travels before gravity pulls it to the ground – is given by the equation:

R = v2 × sin (2a) / g

g is a measure of the strength of gravity. On Earth, it is 9.8 m/s/s. To find g on the Moon, we need another equation:

g = G×M/R2

G is the gravitational constant, M is the mass of the Moon, and R is the radius of the Moon. So, on the Moon:

g = 1.6 m/s2

Acceleration of gravity on earth is 9.81m/s/s. On the Moon it’s 1.622m/s/s. On earth with air resistance a bullet leaving at 3K fps will slow to 1.5K fps by .7KM and will have been flying for about one second meaning it’s fallen 9.81m (darn near 30 feet). On the moon it’d not slow down due to air resistance because there is none and so would fly at 3K fps (~1KM/sec) until acted on by something else to slow it down.

The moon being 10K and change kilometers around a bullet would need 10K and change seconds of flight time to make it around the Moon and hit you in the back if launched at 3K fps. This means that you’d have to launch the bullet from an altitude of over 1.6kilometers and then nearly 3 hours later be standing on the surface to get hit. Like I said, it’s possible technically. The bullet would not fling off into space. Even if you shoot it vertically, it’ll probably still be captured by the Moon’s gravity and eventually return instead of zinging across the solar system.

Truth be told, ballistics on the Moon is massively simple compared to ballistics on the Earth. The Moon rotates on its axis so slowly that vertical coriolis drift are essentially non-factors. Spin drift would also be reduced or nearly eliminated. Horizontal Coriolis drift would continue to be a problem because the Moon is still not a cylinder but instead an oblate spheroid. That makes it so there are really no straight lines when you engage in free flight over the surface. When you fire a gun on the surface of the moon you might get scooted back a tad from where you were standing but not far because there is some gravity there. Just enough gravity to be useful.

Once you’ve made it past the temperature and gravitational effects and the lack of atmospheric drag you get to the other problem: What the hell are you shooting at. There’s nobody there gunna rob you and you can be certain that if you leave your shit there that it will definitely not get stolen. There is also a distinct lack of any sanctioned firing range so the target practice excuse kinda kicks its legs up and dies.

Shooting on the Moon brings with it nearly all the problems of shooting in space (all of them that are problems because of a lack of gravity) and brings with it brand new problems unique to an environment with some gravity, though not much, and with all of the problems of heat/cold and a lacking atmosphere. The benefits of no atmosphere are to be had too. Consider what would happen to a groundhog on the moon if hit by a bullet from 10K kilometers away that was still going 3K fps. You think they fly into the air when hit with a .223 bullet still doing 2K fps after flying 400yrds across a field in South Dakota, wait’ll you see how high they fly when you hit them at 3Kfps from 10,000,000 yards and change. Betcha that surprises the shit out of them.

The ideal gun to shoot in space would be the Gyrojet. The projectiles fired are actually rockets and don’t have a lot of initial thrust (takes a few feet to get really sizzling) so recoil would be minimal and because they’re rockets meant to burn over a respectable amount of time instead of powder meant to burn more or less all at once the shooter is unlikely to be sent whizzing in the opposite direction with much energy.

User Contrib: A Discussion On Marijuana, Law, Politics and Fact

I posed a question of opinion (rather than objective measurable fact) to a user of BallisticXLR (Timothy) during an email conversation. It struck me as one of the best discussions of the topic I’d ever read and not only reinforced many of my own opinions on the topic but also caused me to step back and think to make sure I wasn’t guilty of any internal intellectual shenanigans. It’s not just that what he wrote was an actual answer to my question or that it contained a brillian discussion of some of the points I’d brought up but also because it’s well written, easy to read and completely free of any of the vitriol or failures of logic that so often accompany such things.

My question to Timothy had to do with his opinion on marijuana legalization and was spawned by his telling to me of how things have been in his neck of the woods over the years much of which can be directly attributed to international marijuana trafficking.

Without further ado:

In one line; remove the profit and you remove the incentive of a specific focus.

That said, and because you have raised the issue of opinion, there are many lines to consider.
There are the issues of politics, control, morality, health, revenue, liberalism, substance abuse, and most damaging, misinformation.

Because a strong factor of human personal and social behavior is to varying degrees drug acceptance and often drug dependency, we have and will always indulge in relief from pressure through substance interaction. From comfort foods to a cold beer after a hard day of work, to fancy dinner and wine, the drug alcohol has been accepted world wide. Thousands of years of development, use, research, and political intervention has solidified its presence in human lifestyle. It is naturally occurring under certain conditions and we have learned how to harvest it for a multitude of valid uses. There are many more naturally occurring substances that can be beneficial or harmful depending on use. In comes marijuana and that brings us to control.

Control can be at the personal use level or at the mass population through manufacturing, and distribution. This brings us to the politics of government which includes revenue, health, morality, liberalism and other issues that determine the direction of political intervention. All of which can only be correctly determined and facilitated through honest and comprehensive research and evaluation. When politics of control are biased by faulty agenda and misinformation, nothing about the issue can be correctly surmised and benefitted from.

That was a long winded dissertation of generality that can now be applied to cannabis sativa.
The hemp plant has many industrial and medical uses but because of political agenda it was the subject of a monumental misinformation act designed to vilify it in the eyes of the populace. It became the scapegoat of corrupt agents who then classified it where it currently stands as a class one narcotic under strict control of the corrupted government. That means an end to valuable research in the public domain ending the possible benefits of “legal” development and use. As always, when you take something away from someone that they want, they will find ways to have it anyway. For cannabis, that made it very profitable for the black markets. Geography, climate, substandard living conditions, corrupt officials made Central and South America ideal cultivation models for the newly created American supply problem of a long term substance use. Cartels formed to supply the demand and it was/is unbelievably profitable.
The more evil it is labelled, the more illegal it will be regarded, and the more profit will be realized.

One problem of our governing body is their ignorance based arrogance. As a whole, they focus on personal advancement over the quest for truth and knowledge. Long standing misinformation designed to pacify the simpleminded populace remains their justification for not seeking and acting in the interest of their constituents. They ride the political winds of job security. Then there are the few brave souls of the underground movements that discretely perform the illegal research and development that will eventually come to light through liberal activism in a country based on freedom and the pursuit of happiness. The will of the people eventually overcomes the restrictions of the government. When the control is lifted, the misinformation is revealed and the truth can manifest in the just rewards.

This spells doom for that finite focus of the black market, but not for the black market itself. Another misconception is that the Cartels are just mindless , ignorant criminals. I can assure you that they are quite the contrary. They are ruthless businessmen and women with more cunning and disregard for humanity than any Wall Street broker or Fortune Five Hundred CEO. They use any means to develop and market their product that will assure their continued wealth and power. History gives us models to observe if we only take the time. One example is the Cosa Nostra that moved from Italy to the U.S. and through their efforts eventually converted their illegal activities into socially and governmentally accepted venues of legitimate business resulting in Las Vegas, and the Powerball Lottery. As long as there is a market, they will supply it.
You can change the product but you will not stop the Cartel as they are already infiltrating communities and businesses, banking, transportation, law enforcement, and government.

The current American movement to legalize cannabis will simply shift the Cartel behavior into legitimate business efforts in cannabis and also open new opportunities for substitute contraband within their current black market enterprise. Heroin is making a comeback, meth is being shipped by the tonnage, new designer drugs are entering the vile concoction of destructive substances to feed the never ending craving of American substance use and abuse.
The market is here to stay and so are the illegal enterprise organizations.

The legalization of cannabis will free it from the false stigma and allow legitimate research and development of its true great potentials in medicine and industry and of course there will be those that choose to abuse it as a social drug. That is the way of a free nation as long as there are those of us that are willing to fight to keep America free.

“Count your bullets so you can count your blessings”


If everyone took the sort of tack that Timothy does with their political and social views, that of objective fact over fallacy|opinion|politics|emotion, we might achieve some real progress with the problems we have in the world. Things like terrorism, drugs, violence, corruption, environment, healthcare, economics and more could be approached not with a preconception that solutions must exist but with a preconception that IF solutions do exist and they’re not worse than the disease that we might be able to agree that some problems don’t have useful solutions and we have to deal with that reality rather than spin dreams. Also, that other problems we’ve been unable to solve might be best solved with a completely different approach.

In short: Rights never need to be trampled on to solve a problem. If they are, then the solution is itself now a problem. Also, civil discourse is possible on any topic as long as people do not get emotions in front of thought. We have huge brains for our body mass. We need to get back to a place where the we all think and consider without being constrained by politics, emotionalism or any other evil, necessary or not. We need to seek to know which are necessary evils and which are just evils. Politics, for instance, is a necessary evil. People are the problem politics is meant to solve. Emotionalism is a necessary part of the human condition but it is not necessary in the pursuit of knowledge of truth. The two can be separated and should be.

Above all a civil discussion of any hot-button issue requires a willingness to self-criticize. If you can’t be in the wrong and admit it to yourself then how can you ever know when you’re not in the wrong? Timothy doesn’t seem to suffer from subjective blinders and I have to not only point that out but celebrate the fact. I try in my daily life to do the same and even if I occasionally fail, at least I’m trying. Let’s all follow Tim’s example and try. All you have to do is do something 10 times in a row and it’ll become a habit. This seems like a good one to develop.

Who’s Lives Actually Matter

A week ago (yeah, I’m a bit late) the Black Lives Matter gang at Dartmouth decided to get all protesty on campus and ran around shouting racist nonsense and being generally criminal and violent. Big shock there. We’ve come to expect the BLM movement to act like a racist criminal gang rather than a focused social movement. We’ve come to expect it because really they’re no different than the Ku Klux Klan in the way they act. Violent and unwilling to engage in any useful discourse which might find solutions to their perceived ills or at least identify that, yes they do perceive problems and no, none of us have been able to find a solution for butthurt so they might just get the hell over it.

The whole thing started over (apparently) a BLM shirt display being vandalized. Ok jerk move there, vandalism is never ok. Still it’s usually predictable. The BLM movement is inherently racist. If you don’t think so then ask yourself what you’d do if whites started a #WhiteLivesMatter movement to protest the nearly 50 unarmed whites that have been killed by cops this year (according to the BLM stats which I’m going to just call bullshit on right now). Would you not expect a KKK shirt display on a university campus to be vandalized? Of fucking course. At least the Klan knows to keep their displays out of public atrium of a private university.

Universities are the locus of politically correct intolerance, strident advocacy of narrow concerns and emotional immaturity. The utterly idiotic and self contradictory nature of some terms in the previous sentence and the ideas that make the whole next couple sentences true might strike you like it did me while writing them. The social justice warriors that infest universities fight vigorously against organizations, people and ideas that don’t comport exactly with the SJW’s, often violently and always uncivilly. You can’t possibly agree properly with all of the idiotic and frequently self contradictory ideas of SJW’s so you’re bound to run afoul of them no matter what you do. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

Ok, we know they’re incapable of actual tolerance, that’s fine. We’ll accept that, much like ISIS they are defining now what is tolerance and it’s not defined by the actual meaning of the word. Ok, fine. So why then were they so surprised and pissed about the shirt display being vandalized and then removed? BLM as a movement denies the fact that blacks have it better now than ever and that it only keeps getting better for them with more handouts and societal tolerance that now spans the gamut from simply ignoring their systematic destruction of the English language and music to downright deification of the least respectable and most criminal among them. Being blind to the realities of the situation they’re capable of reacting with superhuman cognitive dissonance and vigor to the most banal of mundane agora.

Originally Posted by
The display shows 74 shirts representing the 74 unarmed individuals who lost their lives to police brutality this year. Twenty-eight of these shirts were black, representing the 28 unarmed black individuals killed by police brutality in 2015.

As we all know, shooting an unarmed person is always questionable but not always unjustified. If you make me think you have a weapon or just the ability and intent to do me great bodily harm and you won’t back down then I’m under no obligation to not kill your stupid ass nor am I under an obligation to determine your current weapons status and intent before taking decisive action to stop you from carrying out your intended malicious action. Nobody unarmed gets killed by a cop simply for being unarmed. You might get killed by a cop for simply being armed but the other way around is beyond unlikely and in the realm of ridiculousness. You have to do something else other than not be armed and just having a killer tan you can’t get rid of doesn’t get it. Yes, there have been and always will be some really bad shoots every year and those are always dealt with though not always to the satisfaction of the public. Nonetheless I think the BLM movement might want to consider that there’s a reason blacks are a disproportionately large component of the kill count, and of the prison population of the USA. They have sown a culture of tribal criminality, violence and willful ignorance and reaped a bumper crop. What the hell did they think was going to happen?

If BLM wants blacks to stop being disproportionately imprisoned, shot, beaten, suspected, distrusted and stereotyped then they should stop disproportionately commiting crimes (or otherwise properly asking for it) and start disproportionately pushing their kids to be honorable, educated, driven and successful. If they did that they could just as well rise above whites on the economic ladder much in the way that Asians do. Why do I bring up Asians? You don’t think that broke ass China was able to flood the USA with tens of thousands of brilliant engineers, doctors and scientists because they ignored their kids running around Beijing in criminal gangs do you? No, the parents in China pushed their kids, frequently to the breaking point, to get educated and to be honorable and hard working, to move to the USA and get a career and to succeed at all personal cost. In so doing they’ve become an unnoticed economic power in the USA and other than interesting jokes about driving and diet they’re treated no differently than whites. In fact, most whites I know seem to trust Asians more than they do whites. If blacks want equality they have to earn it and not just stand around bitching, stealing, dealing drugs and hurting people. The parents in black households need to control their damned kids and push them to success the way Asian parents do. If black kids die because of stress induced suicide instead of drug induced homicide it’s somehow a little more honorable. It’s black America’s unwillingness to do what needs to be done to raise their kids in a competitive world that allows negative perceptions of black culture to persist. They’re allowing; almost encouraging, negative aspects of black culture to persist and dominate. There are good and bad things in every culture and it’s not racist to point out those things that are unhealthy for society. Tolerance isn’t giving a thumbs up. Tolerance is giving a middle finger up and taking it no further.

Earnings by Race 1967-2012

Black lives matter exactly as much as white lives and brown lives and yellow lives: Not a damned bit. What matters is what you do with your life, not the fact that you have/had one.

A Rant About the Failure of Tracking Point

What started out as a brilliant idea was seemingly handled by people who were uneducated on the subject matter and ultimately led to the demise of the first iteration of the company. It’s hard to think of a step taken or decision made or feature enabled that was done without harm to the company or the product or the goal. The real shame was that there was a product in there that could have been made great. TP decided to make a product whose superficial flaws almost completely obscured the fundamental flaws. Probably the single biggest flaw was forgetting their target market.

The pricing basically made this into unobtanium and moved it out of what might be considered for military procurement. The Pentagon telling them it’s ITAR classified doesn’t mean it’s worth a damn. In fact that ITAR restriction means TP can’t sell it to friendly nations without a big hassle. No regular joe is going to save up 9 grand for a base model TP rifle and since the scope is integral to the rifle the cost can’t be spread out at all. What we’ve got is a really really expensive scope and a terrible idea (electronically actuated trigger) bonded in such a way that it makes little sense. If TP didn’t get in the way of the fire control system and try to make a guided electronic gun then it might not have been ITAR’d.

Custom Ammo:
For the system to work the computer has to know the ammo performance and ballistics to a high degree of precision. This means you have to buy your ammo from TP or very precisely duplicate its performance. They don’t advertise the ability to update your ballistics inputs which means that this gun can not be reasonably fed from a shelf either. Enough bad things can’t be said about this. You can’t use your own custom ammo, or military ball ammo or whatever you have access to even if you have access to thorough, accurate and complete ballistics data for them. Just can’t.

Custom Gun:
What caused them to decide that they needed to interfere with the trigger is obvious. They were hung up on the idea of the gun improving the skill of crappy shooters artificially. The only justification for a 9,000 dollar rifle that’s no good in battle is to sell it to dolts with more dollars than sense who want the one-pill solution to all of the problems they encounter. These are the customers you don’t want. They’re not going to respect the weapon, they’re just going to use it. They advertised it as a military level solution to all problems a bullet could solve then implemented it in a way only good for dilettantes, fart-abouts and eccentric layabouts.

No wind handling:
This is a critical and fundamental flaw. The system cannot tell how fast the wind is moving or in what direction and worse it depends on a manual input. Winds change. The reason most serious shooters of long range targets hold off manually for wind because it changes so suddenly. TP offers half MPH increments to the wind inputs as well which is overly granular. Even the best readers of wind in the world can’t be that precise. Most of us like to use the 0-5, 5-10, 10-15, 15-20, 20+ rule and unless we’re in a competition environment that’s all that’s really going to be necessary. Even in competition because sighter shots are normally granted for long range matches the issue is doubly meaningless and useless to include. Again this is a case of catering to crappy shooters but not delivering a product that caters well to their actual needs so much as their personal fantasies of what their needs will be.

Fire control system interference
I can’t imagine the legal jeopardy that their EULA absolves them of. Design a lethal product and then make it make the decision to pull the trigger as long as the user doesn’t veto it by moving too far off the target or releasing the trigger before the gun fires. So what’s the first malfunction going to buy the user? A day in court? What about TP’s liability. Only a test case will decide. Additionally, good/proper trigger control is being deleted from this weapon system as a requirement for it to perform. The user then picks up another non-TP rifle and finds that they’re completely incompetent or even dangerous because they’ve trained themselves to a modified procedure. Well, we’ve now just made a weapon system that requires not just its own training and familiarization but those are going to be different than any other rifle that looks similar.

Fire control battery
The gun will fire with a dead battery. I’m not sure this is a good idea. The whole idea behind it is the guided trigger. As much a fan as I am of manual overrides one has to wonder what edge cases are going to be found.

Radiation emissions
The scope emits infrared radiation for the rangefinder to work. Prematurely broadcasting radiation across the battlefield is a bad idea. Plain ol’ optical scopes are really better suited to the kind of mission that TP rifles would be great for if it wasn’t designed with that capability almost specifically excluded: Use by skilled operators for hard target interdiction. You know what those operators use? Conventional optical scopes and conventional manually operated or semi-auto rifles without gizmos. If that won’t do the trick they call in an airstrike.

Weight and Size
The scope is huge and does not at all help the lines or balance and it increases the visibility profile of anyone using it. The red and blue lenses are beacons to any countersniper seeking to stop the user from successfully engaging their target.

Range limitation
Range is limited by the LRF inside the scope. The LRF’s don’t closely approach the range of these weapon systems and cannot lock on targets farther than the LRF is useful for against non-reflective targets.

If TP wanted to make this device really catch on they should have designed something more like a mix between a Timney trigger, a DBAL, a 1-mile capable laser rangefinder, a kestrel and a ballistic computer using something like Applied Ballistics software. That could be easily packaged into a rifle which was meant to have all that stuff packaged into it instead of retro-fitting already well engineered rifles like AR-10 and AR-15 and Remington 700 style rifles with what really is a bolt-on accessory.

You don’t make an integrated weapon system by bolting bits of other shit onto existing designs. That’s not what integration means or how it’s spelled.

Tracking Point took a great concept and ruined it with an abysmal implementation.

Agitprop Smackdown – Kohn Artist Edition

Twitter addicted agitprop specialist Sally Kohn recently penned an article which originally claimed that 10,000 “kids” a year are “killed” by guns. The article humorously advertises the sort of fallacy based thinking that is de rigueur among those prone to populist thinking and politics in the title “We regulate toys, so why not guns?”. I thought that 10K was an amazingly high number considering that there are about 30,000 deaths from bullets per year for all age groups in the USA and half of that 30K are suicides which are mostly adults. That means that all of the non-suicide, non-child shootings that are fatal that happen every year in the USA amount to about 5,000. Something about the math is suspicious to me. How is it that kids are taking up two thirds of the total non-suicide gun related deaths per year. I smell some dirty dirty lies being spread by a dirty dirty bird.

As is normally expected, the fact that the 10K figure was complete bullshit didn’t escape those that are keen to check sources. As Karnak would predict the Twitter-sphere went completely ape-shit and called her out on the flatly wrong statistic originally quoted and she finally updated her article with the 10K number referring now to firearm related killed or injured kids. Ok, but that still seems high to me. The math I did above is one reason I was suspicious but not the only one. Think of how it would be if it were not bullshit. If we were having 30 actual children per day wounded or killed; either by accident or stupidity or malice, we’d never hear the damned end of it. Cable news, local news, radio news. For sure none of them would ever let 30 bloody kids a day go by without finding a way to make some ratings from it and waving bloody t-shirts around.

Not content to simply read the article, I also read the articles it referenced which were seriously orthogonal and labored poster cases for the point she seemed, by slow degrees, to be trying to make. That point was basically nothing but Sally going forth (pun intended) to go full Helen Lovejoy. Advocating the restricting of a constitutional right based on a “Oh won’t somebody puh-leez think of the children!” sort of appeal to emotion fallacy decorated with an incipient slippery slope fallacy. Typical agitprop nonsense. That might not otherwise bother me but, it is not just sloppy thinking. It’s plum dangerous because it denies that there might be actually important and consequential outputs from a discussion were it to be had in some rational and logical way. Substituting inane talking points for important dialogue is unproductive. It’s a shame really that this is the only way policy is discussed in the USA anymore. We’ve left behind the time in our history when civil discourse on important topics was able to be had and all we’re left with now is aggressive advocacy in support of narrow concerns by people uneducated in the topics they’re vehemently supporting.

I noticed at the bottom of Kohn-girl’s article that she uses The American Academy of Pediatrics as a source for the 10K number. Ok, well no actual article or study is cited but AAP is reputable enough that we can go there and check so I Google “american academy of pediatrics child gun injury”. The second result in the return is directly from AAP LINK. Reading over the AAP doc I notice that the first several references their article gives are from the CDC so I take a trip down that link and end up on the WISQARS system which is an inelegant but easy to use query system for injury data.

Here’s a link to the actual query system I was using. Provided so you don’t have to do like I did and go on a spelunking expedition though a typically shitty government web site to find the fucking thing

My initial suspicion was that the 10K number was probably based on including adults age 19-25 in the data set and so I started with a query that stops at (inclusive) 18 years old. Well, that returned about 1800 inuries. That’s kinda far from 10K. So I add firearm injuries to 19-25 year old’s into the data set and get 7300. Well that’s pretty close but shit folks, 19-25 isn’t a kid by any definition other than the disproportionate likelihood of them living in a basement that belongs to at least one of their parents and the inverse likelihood that they’re paying any rent.

Finally I’m starting to get really irritated and a bit giddy with anger at being lied to so blatantly and I resolve to figure out exactly what in the actual hell AAP considered to be “children”. I include ages 0-29 (because you should never trust anybody over 30) and get just a tit over 10K. Well, that’s technically enough but I know it’s not going to be enough reliably year over year. It’s going to be too close to 9,999 in a mellow year to get the kind of propaganda points that TEN THOUSAND does so we make it 0-30 and bang. The number we’re looking for and it’s far enough above 10K that we don’t have to worry about a relatively peaceful year fucking up our efforts at carefully misleading the public.

Well, now I’ve revealed to myself exactly what level of gullibility and blatant and unrepentant lying Sally Kohn is capable of and what sort of poorly concealed and utter dishonesty The American Academy of Pediatrics is prone to. I’ve also discovered that the CDC is a vastly better resource for information than I might have previously given them credit for. CDC has a tough mission. They’re charged with dealing with threats to public health but what exactly the definitions of “public” and “health” are vary from administration to administration and like all branches of government in the USA their actions and directions of research are heavily influenced by politics. They can be trusted well to gather data but I wouldn’t ever trust them for policy advice.

When I probed the CDC firearm injury data further I did find something shocking and terribly sad. It looks like when you get to 70 years old you’re suddenly much more likely to die or be injured by a bullet. I would assume that this is a spike due to suicide and it speaks to the loneliness and discomfort of aging and the horrifically low level of care or time or thought that people under 50 spend giving any fucks at all about those over 60. Call your mom and dad sometime and just say hi. No long protracted chats, just say hi and care a little. Call your grandparents or hell, go visit them if they’re still alive. They won’t be forever.

The kind of dishonest rejiggering and clouding of data sources by “news” organizations that goes on today is stunning. They’re responding to a flattened market and trying to pull as much money off the table as possible. They’ve taken to doing that by treating headlines as news. Headlines are not news. Headlines rarely have useful information in them. They’re the old fashioned version of click bait meant to distract you, not to inform you. News is complete information, well researched and TRUE regardless of point of view. To CNN’s credit the editor notes at the by-line of the article noting the author is an activist which is basically shorthand for “FUCKING LIAR”. It’s clear that she’s an activist first and a journalist not at all. A properly written article would have links to sources but no. I had to go and tear through the article, then figure out what the source for her information was, then find the source that that source used and then finally figure out how the actual source data was interpreted (misinterpreted in this case) and then expose how that misinterpretation was carried, knowingly and dishonestly, to the readership of CNN’s web rag opinion articles.

Here’s the actual data. Numbers below 20 are considered (by the CDC) to be unreliable for uses of statistical analysis. Notice what happens after you turn 18? Yeah, you’re a college student or young adult and you do stupid shit and get killed and injured at a disproportionate rate that goes nuts until 25 and then starts tapering down. By adding 18-30yo’s into the data set what’s been done is precisely cherry picking and worse yet, it’s dishonestly purposed cherry picking. It’s being done expressly for political and rhetorical purposes and in the face of the actual meaning of the data. American Academy of Pediatrics? How about American Academy of Polemics.

Be sure to follow Sally Kohn and let her know how much you appreciate liars.

Age in Yearsrs Deaths Population Crude Rate
0 15 3941783 0.38
1 17 3955942 0.43
2 12 3989135 0.3
3 19 3989538 0.48
4 19 3991690 0.48
5 16 4121797 0.39
6 9 4142191 0.22
7 10 4108053 0.24
8 11 4095205 0.27
9 19 4103335 0.46
10 21 4073258 0.52
11 14 4055918 0.35
12 41 4155875 0.99
13 68 4217964 1.61
14 118 4147439 2.85
15 174 4147445 4.2
16 276 4158116 6.64
17 399 4191188 9.52
18 548 4285609 12.79
19 659 4376606 15.06
20 741 4445721 16.67
21 842 4568663 18.43
22 887 4655731 19.05
23 857 4652806 18.42
24 798 4472517 17.84
25 720 4372201 16.47
26 695 4300520 16.16
27 706 4322247 16.33
28 684 4360245 15.69
29 660 4224985 15.62
30 640 4294831 14.9
31 619 4297330 14.4
32 642 4254331 15.09
33 598 4342738 13.77
34 591 4075159 14.5
35 554 3996723 13.86
36 483 3957642 12.2
37 481 3842679 12.52
38 521 3964301 13.14
39 479 3842425 12.47
40 467 3904767 11.96
41 461 4084927 11.29
42 515 4323573 11.91
43 543 4380926 12.39
44 491 4154727 11.82
45 441 4070408 10.83
46 497 4076903 12.19
47 478 4156273 11.5
48 557 4409800 12.63
49 570 4494922 12.68
50 573 4494482 12.75
51 574 4489236 12.79
52 575 4547907 12.64
53 571 4589261 12.44
54 558 4438340 12.57
55 532 4415162 12.05
56 524 4369543 11.99
57 482 4215577 11.43
58 501 4181408 11.98
59 501 4012740 12.49
60 455 3862796 11.78
61 435 3715993 11.71
62 350 3603520 9.71
63 351 3519231 9.97
64 387 3420461 11.31
65 366 3391067 10.79
66 366 3534440 10.36
67 256 2604610 9.83
68 273 2569911 10.62
69 287 2508689 11.44
70 309 2569502 12.03
71 244 2238499 10.9
72 250 2044846 12.23
73 254 1934570 13.13
74 234 1820632 12.85
75 205 1743415 11.76
76 197 1607329 12.26
77 200 1534778 13.03
78 213 1471162 14.48
79 170 1321197 12.87
80 185 1277377 14.48
81 192 1219160 15.75
82 178 1160321 15.34
83 203 1111120 18.27
84 149 1000660 14.89
85 842 6040789 13.94
. 33625 316128839 10.64

When Did the Infection Become So Pernicious?

The right wing of American politics has long been a collection of people from pretty diverse groups within an otherwise politically homogeneous umbrella. The outer group is composed largely, and this is due to the way that history played out and not because of any intent, of people who view government in general with a bit of distrust. That distrust seems to me to be borne of a desire to go on with their lives free from anyone else’s opinion on the matter. Within that outer umbrella of those that I’ll call “personal responsibility advocates” there are quite amazing numbers of smaller parties with highly diverse interests.

We have many issues that seem to resonate with the right wing: drug policy, foreign policy, gun rights, alcohol policy, welfare policy, states rights, the size of government, the powers delegated to government, the mechanisms of delegation of power, and on and on. For many in the right any one of the issues that matters to them may matter enough for them to be called single-issue voters on the issue because their opinion on it weighs so very heavily in their voting habits. Gun rights advocacy is one of the poster-children of this tendency.

2A advocacy deeply affects the voting habits of millions of Americans and that’s understandable. Once enshrined in the Bill of Rights the second amendment is no longer just an amendment to an agreement about the formation and rules of government. Rather the Bill of Rights is seen widely as a charter not of simple civil rights but of human rights which are much more fundamental. You have, individually, all of the rights spelled out in the first 10 amendments and no man can take them away from you. God given, natural, etc… whatever you want to call them, you have them from birth no matter where you’re born as long as you’re under U.S. civilian jurisdiction.

That’s the belief despite the fact that those rights can be and; quite frequently are, taken away or otherwise violated or infringed by the very government we put in place to protect them. Remember that after you’ve been convicted of certain crimes and have served your sentence (i.e. your debt to society has been paid) you are no longer in possession of several of those 10 fundamental rights of a free man. Some of them but not all of them can be kept. A rational and dispassionate person might question, “Why the selectivity?” A really thoughtful one might suggest that it’s like that for a reason and then describe exactly what those reasons are and compare them to the realities of the world and decide that a change is or is not in order. They will certainly have given it the due thought that few people give to even fewer issues these days.

Beyond genuine political matters such as welfare and women’s rights, taxes and immigration policy there are matters of conscience that are being dragged into the discussion and being used as selection criteria for our politicians. These are dangerous areas to contemplate legislation in or to select legislators on the basis of because conscience and politics are not always able to be rationalized in the same framework. Frequently you have to put one to the side or there just will be no progress. Sometimes it’s a matter of oxymoronic definitions that can’t be dealt with rationally. Sometimes it’s simply fallacious to ask a system of politics to solve for a matter of; essentially, faith.

In the past 50-ish years but, in particular since the 1973 Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade which legalized abortion, and especially since the founding of the Moral Majority by Jerry Falwell something really dramatic has happened to the right wing and particularly to the Republican party. It’s been infected with religious fundamentalist based conservatism which has gradually gotten more and more pernicious, internally logically inconsistent and intolerant of its own members. The right now largely sees the bounds of the ethics of modern evangelical protestant Christianity as the boundaries and defining character traits of how they think the Republican party in the USA should act. The hell of it is, they’ve been a little inconsistent with their beliefs over the last 30 years.

For two thirds of a decade after the Roe v. Wade decision nobody in non-Catholic circles seemed to give two damns about the abortion question. In 1968 Christianity Today (the bulwark magazine for the conservative Christian at the time) flatly refused to characterize abortion as sinful and prominent ministers such as W. A. Criswell (former president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas and one of the most famous fundamentalists of the 20th century) was pleased: “I have always felt that it was only after a child was born and had a life separate from its mother that it became an individual person,” he said, “and it has always, therefore, seemed to me that what is best for the mother and for the future should be allowed.” If you look at things it was a decade between one pastor saying he didn’t give a hoot about abortion and Falwell’s creation of a political advocacy group that seemed to care very much about abortion and anything else they could get their judgmental mitts on.

Falwell created the Moral Majority explicitly excluding the idea that it might discriminate against any religion. He actively courted Jews, Catholics and anyone else that agreed with their message, much to the chagrin of men like Bob Jones Jr. (then president of Bob Jones University, about the most bigoted university in the USA) who called Falwell “the most dangerous man in America”. Falwell deliberately injected religion into politics partly to shore up the Republican chances at electoral victory in the 80’s and by the time he’d shut down the Moral Majority he was able to declare that the central mission of the organization; which I contend was an afterthought, to make sure that religious conservatism was in American politics to stay, was completed and successful. He didn’t give a damn about abortion per se’. If he had he’d have formed MM in 1973 instead of 6 years later. What Falwell seemed to want was a job leading the masses and he was able to give himself not only a job but a fortune and political power which he didn’t have to win in an election or serve a traditional constituency to keep. Seems more than just a little self-serving any way you look at it. In fact a look at Falwell’s entire career suggests the speedy evolution of an opportunistic leech with a keen eye for creating divisions in groups that would push money into his pocket and power into his jacket.

So even in the height of the discussion as a matter of law, the evangelical movement seemed to not care very much, possibly at all until Falwell needed something to do and a paycheck. Now the abortion issue is right up there with gay rights and drugs and whether Jesus is or ever was anyone’s particular savior and whom exactly he was saving from precisely what. The evangelical movement sees all of those as matters of deep political consequence and has not only lost the capacity for forgiveness both inside and outside their ranks but has seemingly lost the page marker in the Bible where it talks about not judging and the reasons for not doing so. They are hyper-judgemental and the first to condemn someone for being any different than they are. Unfortunately for the right Evangelicals largely seem to call themselves Replublicans and that seriously dilutes and harms the message of classical republicanism which concerns itself with the delegation of limited authority and the sovereignty of the people rather than of the executive (or king). Republicanism has nothing intrinsically to do with silly things like abortion or gay marriage or whether or not the planet is 4.5 billion years old or around 6 thousand. It simply makes no statements about that stuff because it’s not concerned with them at all.

Nowadays we in the Replublican party are being overwhelmed with not just fundamentalist protestant christian religiosity but with a curiously under-considered dogmatic interpretation of scripture which is largely modern and appears to be attempting a revival of pre-renaissance ideas of a flat and young Earth, literal readings of the Bible, condemnation of your neighbor and other fundamentalist tropes. The Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision was immediately and loudly and is still being decried as the corrupt product of an “activist court” “legislating from the bench” and “outside SCOTUS’s authority”. What that analysis lacks is any idea of what the Supreme Court’s authority is, which is to decide matters of constitutionality on any case that is brought to them. They can accept or refuse any case, they have life tenure, are appointed not elected and their decision is final and binding. If you come to them with a case and they take the case up then whatever decision they reach is the final word on the matter until a new court is seated (which can take decades) and a new case is found and fought and accepted by SCOTUS. The idea that a century ago some states attempted to nullify SCOTUS decisions by simply failing to follow or enforce them is meaningless because those states that attempted nullification were acting outside the constitution, in open rebellion and contempt of court, just like Kim Davis did.

Religion has a place. I’m not sure what that place is since it’s never had one in my life but I’m sure there’s a place for it in the world if not in my personal universe. Possibly it would go well in a museum or a text book dedicated to mental disorders. There’s also a place for politics. Possibly in a museum or in a text book about mental disorders. When the two start sharing the same decision space though, we get nothing but the worst possible products of both. We must remember that this is not a Christian nation. It’s a nation populated largely by Christians but the two are not synonymous. The founding fathers created a pluralistic system of government at a time when the common way to do things was for one religion, one specific sect even, to be dominant and to occupy the spaces of political power as well as spiritual power. They did that because they weren’t stupid or all from the same sect. Some were apparently even flirting pretty vigorously with atheism. All recognized though that several of the sects in parts of the emergent country would want to eradicate sects in other parts so they’d better make it so the sects all had to tolerate each other by giving none of the sects as such a single ounce of political power.

If the Republicans want to succeed then they need to drum out of the party the idea that religious ideologies have any place in discussions on matters of governance. We need exorcise the demons of hate, bigotry, pride, wrath and judgement from our ranks. It doesn’t matter if someone wishes to believe a stack of 2000 year old indefensible, unproveable superstitions based on the bizarre ideas of theocratic primitive tribesmen. That’s fine. Kinda illogical but fine. Don’t inject the ideology of a religion into matters of law and governance though. Some religions think abortions are a non-issue, just like fundamentalist evangelicals in the 60’s did. Today the only religious group I can identify that is as vigorous about compliance with their particular superstition is fundamentalist Islam. A shocking and some might say unjust comparison. I don’t think so. Look at the actions and words of the two groups. The only difference I can really find is Christian fundies in the USA usually show their faces when they commit an atrocity.

Some religions don’t give two damns about 2 guys that like to kiss and hug and want to spend their lives together. Some care very much indeed. No two systems of belief; which is by definition the blind acceptance of some story as fact without a shred of evidence and occasionally in the face of evidence to the contrary, are going to see exactly the same way on these sorts of divisive issues because they arise from someone asking a divisive question in the first place. Doing so in a way that the question cannot be satisfactorily answered by either side. As soon as there is real testable and falsifiable evidence which can be independently verified you can do just that and come up with something that can objectively serve as some sort of answer.

I spend a good bit of time on gun and speech rights forums and what I’ve found in each of those is astonishingly disheartening. The most vicious, hateful and persistent diatribes against any one person or practice are handed down by those that profess adherence to a religion of forgiveness and love. The most forgiving and loving statements seem to come from those with absolutely no bond at all to any system of supernatural faith. It seems to me that secular humanists have stolen from Christianity the mantel and title of protector and defender of the sinner and given to the religious right, by way of like kind exchange, a complete indifference to the suffering of men and a feeling of self-superiority which appears to be unjustified in all of its many manifestations.

The religious Republican right seems to act a lot like the way that they say the Democratic left operates. Sticking its nose in the affairs of others, punishing non-conformity, berating and attacking classical constitutional liberalism (classical liberalism associated with individual freedom, not modern liberalism associated with welfare), and rewarding willful ignorance. The right wing has lost its lofty position as defender of freedom and is now engaged in a campaign of gain-saying and division which if left unchecked will collapse the Republican party and take with it the last bits of the conservative ideal: That men are free to do with their lives that which they wish. If they should transgress against another then they must stand and take the consequence willingly to make recompense, and; having done so, return to the fold of the community to continue his life unabated in pursuit of whatever joy he can find.

No problem of physics or mathematics or chemistry or logic can be solved by ignoring the facts. No problem of society can be solved by society fracturing. No problem of governance can be solved by reaching outside the world of government. No amount of faith stops a bad idea being a bad idea. No amount of empirical evidence will convince a mind clouded by blind belief.

If you think that’s anti-christian, ask my christian wife how anti-christian I am. I hold all three of the Abrahamic religions in some level of contempt, it’s hard to look at their histories and not do so. I don’t actively try to destroy their freedom to be themselves. I also recognize that, in the west at least, the competition for power between the forces of faith and the forces of temporal authority (government) created independent powers that did not need permission or enablement by the other to be legitimate and in that separation of church and state authorities space was created for genuinely free men to enjoy a life not ruled by a political or religious center of power but by the people through their representatives. Christianity is a one to many relationship. God says so, so everyone has to do it. Modern representative constitutional democracy is a many to one relationship where the masses agree on a set of rules and the individual is imposed upon to obey them or to accept the consequence of not doing so. They’re so fundamentally different it should be obvious to all that the mixing of them can only be nonsensical.

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