Pixel Scroll 6/13/16 Carry On My Wayward Scroll

(1) NEXT STEP. Sigrid Ellis responds to the Orlando attack with a series of autobiographical notes in “The road to murder is paved with microaggressions”.

  1. I was horrified to hear the news out of Orlando. But I wasn’t surprised. I wish I found murders of LGBTQIA folk to be surprising. But I have been found guilty of being gay my entire life. I know how much, how casually, how thoughtlessly I am hated. Hated not because I am evil, but because I am merely the most horrible disgusting thing people can imagine.
  2. The shooter went to a place of refuge, of joy, of celebration. He went to a place where queers go when we are told we are too queer to be seen anywhere else. He went to the place where all the shoving and flaunting of queer would have been hidden away from him. He sought it out, this crusader vigilante, this one good man with a gun we hear so much about. He took his righteousness and hunted down the gay he hated and feared.
  3. So how do we go on. How do we live in a world that hates and fears us?

I cannot stop anyone from murdering anyone else. I don’t have that power. But I am … done. I am done with letting the jokes and remarks slide by. I cannot continue to passively agree that I am a punchline, a threat, a bogeyman, a cautionary tale. I just, … I am done.

I can’t stop the Orlando murders, or any other murders of queers.

But I am done being complicit.

(2) HELPING. Stephanie Burgis researched a list of links about ways to help Orlando victims, and community LGBTQ organizations.

This is not the post I wanted to write today. Today, I was planning to announce a fun new project up for pre-order. I was going to talk about other stuff, the normal, small incidents of life. But I’m still reeling. So I’ll post about all those things another day. Today, I just want to pass on the things I’ve seen that might help a bit:…

(3) DIAMOND TIME. Alastair Reynolds’ story “Diamond Dogs” will be on stage in Chicago this season.

An adaptation by Althos Low (the pen name for Steve Pickering and creatives from Shanghai Low Theatricals) of Alastair Reynolds sci-fi story “Diamond Dogs” will complete The House Theatre’s 2016-17 season.

The production, set in the future, follows characters caught in an alien tower and will be third in the company’s season, running Jan. 13-March 5. Artistic director Nathan Allen will direct.

(4) TIME TRAVELERS PAST. The Economist discusses“Time-travel from H.G. Wells to ‘Version Control’”.

MUCH of what is good in science fiction is not about the future. Rather, the genre uses the future as a canvas on which to imprint its real concerns—the present. Counterintuitively, perhaps, time travel stories are often those tales that are most anchored in the present. As Sean Redmond argues in “Liquid Metal: the Science Fiction Film Reader”, time travel “provides the necessary distancing effect that science fiction needs to be able to metaphorically address the most pressing issues and themes that concern people in the present”.

One of the earliest time-travel novels, H.G. Wells’s “The Time Machine”, can, for example, be read as reflecting contemporary anxieties about the effects of the industrial revolution on Britain’s rigid class system. The elfin “upper class” Eloi are seemingly content, but are in fact easy prey for the ape-like “working class” Morlocks. The fear that a strong but supposedly inferior working class, empowered by industrialisation, could come for them would have resonated with many of Wells’s Victorian readers.

Robert Heinlein’s time and dimension-hopping novels featuring Lazarus Long, who lives for over 2,000 years, are rooted in the author’s rejection of the social norms of his times. With their enthusiasm for nudism and free love, the novels, which must have seemed provocative in the 1950s and 60s, can now feel dated.

(5) REYNOLDS WOULD STAY. Alastair Reynolds tells “Why I’m for the UK remaining in the EU” at Approaching Pavonis Mons by balloon.

Many of the arguments for and against membership of the EU seem to revolve around economics, which seems to me to be an extremely narrow metric. Even if we are better off out of the EU, which we probably won’t be, so what? This is already a wealthy country, and leaving the EU won’t mend the widening inequality between the very rich and almost everyone else. More than that, though, look at what would be lost. Friendship, commonality, freedom of movement, a sense that national boundaries are (and should be) evaporating.

(6) THE CENTER WILL NOT HOLD. SF Gate reveals the crime of the millennium — “The great city of San Francisco no longer has a center”.

A brass surveyor’s disk, recently installed on an Upper Market-area sidewalk to mark the precise geographic center of San Francisco, has been stolen.

On Wednesday, city surveyors and Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru visited the spot in the 700 block of Corbett Avenue to call attention to the disk and to the work of the surveyors who had established the spot as the precise center of town.

It wasn’t technically the center of town — that spot is under a bush on a nearby hillside — but it was close, and it was publicly accessible.

At the time, surveyor Michael McGee predicted that the small brass disk — attached to the concrete with heavy-duty glue — would suffer the fate of similar markers and be stolen by vandals.

“I’d give it about six weeks,” McGee said.

He was off by five weeks and six days.

On Thursday, an orange arrow and shakily written “Geographic Center of City” were still on the sidewalk. A circular patch marked the spot where the disk had been, briefly.

(7) YOU SHOULD WEAR A HELMET. “Could a satellite fall on your head?” BBC follows German scientists’ efforts to find out.

“There are a lot of satellites in orbit and they will come down sooner or later,” he says. “They’ll probably break up and the question for us is: what is the chance of an impact?”

In other words, could sections of dead satellites survive re-entry to hit something or, worse, someone?

The wind tunnel being deployed for Willems’ experiment resembles a giant deconstructed vacuum cleaner attached to a pressure cooker, arranged across a concrete floor. The gleaming machine is covered in a mass of pipes and wires. Capable of producing air currents of up to 11 times the speed of sound, the wind tunnel is used for testing the aerodynamics of supersonic and hypersonic aircraft designs.

(8) GENRE DINERS. Lawrence Schoen presents — Eating Authors: Naomi Novik, the June 13 edition of his Q&A series.

I’m preparing this week’s post from New Mexico, where I am ensconced at a writers’ retreat and working hard to up my craft (while also enjoying great company, fabulous meals, and some truly awesome leisurely walks through nature). But such things cannot stop the juggernaut that is the EATING AUTHORS blog! Which is about as much of a segue as you’re going to get this week by way of an introduction for my latest guest, Naomi Novik, who should already be known to you for her Temeraire series which blends fantasy and alternate history (or, as it’s more commonly described, the Napoleonic Wars with dragons!).

(9) SEND ONE BOOK. Throwing Chanclas pleads the case for a Nevada high school library looking for book donations. Cat Rambo says SFWAns are pitching in.

I live in a town of 1200 people in the Northern Sierra Nevada –where it meets the Cascade Range near Mt. Lassen National Park and about two hours drive northwest of Reno, NV.  Two hundred of that population is students. Over the years as the population dwindled after mines closed, then mills–nothing except tourism and retirement have emerged as ‘industries.’ Many businesses have closed down and with it many things we take for granted—like libraries….

What we’re lacking is pretty much everything else.

We need racially diverse books. We need graphic novels. We need women’s studies. We need science. We need series. We need film. We need comics. We need music. We need biographies of important people. Looking for Young Adult. Classics. We want zines! Contemporary. Poetry. Everything that would make a difference in a young person’s life. Writers send us YOUR BOOK. We have many non-readers who we’d love to turn on to reading. We need a way to take this tiny area and bring it into the 21st century. We have a whole bunch of kids who don’t like to read because all they’ve ever been given is things that are either dull , dated, or dumbed down.

The students who are excelling are doing so because they have supportive parents at home and access to books and tablets elsewhere. But most students are without.

So here’s what I’m asking. Will you donate a book? A real book. Something literary or fun—something that speaks to your truth, their truths. Something that teaches them something about the world. Makes them feel less alone?

I’m not asking for money. I’m asking for you to send a new book or film or cd to us to help us build a library we can be proud of. Just one book.

So who is with us?

Send us one book.

Greenville High School/Indian Valley Academy
Library Project Attn: Margaret Garcia
117 Grand Street
Greenville, CA 95947

Thank you for your support.

If sending during the month of July (when school is closed) please send to

Library Project/Margaret Garcia
PO Box 585
Greenville, CA 95947

(10) SFWA. Today was the second SFWA Chat Hour. Streamed live and saved to video, you can listen to Operations Director Kate Baker, member Erin Hartshorn, Volunteer Coordinator Derek Künsken, President Cat Rambo, and Chief Financial Officer Bud Sparhawk talk about the organization’s new member experience, game writer criteria, the state of SFWA finances, volunteer opportunities, Worldcon plans, the 2017 Nebulas, awards for anthologies, what they’re reading, and more.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born June 13, 1943 — Malcolm McDowell

(12) TSF&HF. Leonard Pierce experiments with placing the emphasis on each different word in this six-word phrase, and ends up with a column called “Third Booth on the Left”.

“So, what do you guys sell?”

“Traditional science fiction and high fantasy.”

“Your average author isn’t 83 years old and nearly dead, then?”

Traditional science fiction and high fantasy.”

“Oh.  Okay.  But, I mean, you don’t just do space operas based on the technical education of someone who was an undergraduate when Eisenower was in the White House, right?”…

(13) TEH FUNNY. John King Tarpinian recommends today’s Reality Check cartoon by Dave Whamond.

(14) CHINA SF AWARD. “The Chinese Government is Setting Up Its Own Major Science Fiction Award” reports the Lifeboat Foundation.

This is pretty interesting: during the latest national congress of the China Association for Science and Technology, chairman Han Qide announced that the country would be setting up a program to promote science fiction and fantasy, including the creation of a new major award.

Throughout much of its genre’s history, China’s science fiction has had a legacy of usefulness, often promoted to educate readers in concepts relating to science and technology. This new award will be accompanied by an “international sci-fi festival” and other initiatives to promote the creation of new stories.

(15) HE BITES. A deliberately harmful robot named “First Law” has been built to hype discussion about the risks of AI.

A robot that can decide whether or not to inflict pain has been built by roboticist and artist Alexander Reben from the University of Berkeley, California.

The basic machine is capable of pricking a finger but is programmed not to do so every time it can.

Mr Reben has nicknamed it “The First Law” after a set of rules devised by sci-fi author Isaac Asimov.

He said he hoped it would further debate about Artificial Intelligence.

“The real concern about AI is that it gets out of control,” he said.

“[The tech giants] are saying it’s way out there, but let’s think about it now before it’s too late. I am proving that [harmful robots] can exist now. We absolutely have to confront it.”

(16) VERY LATE NEWS. Appropriate to the previous item, Bill Gates was named 2015 Lifeboat Foundation Guardian Award Winner – in January.

Story

January 3, 2016 — The Lifeboat Foundation Guardian Award is annually bestowed upon a respected scientist or public figure who has warned of a future fraught with dangers and encouraged measures to prevent them.   The 2015 Lifeboat Foundation Guardian Award has been given to Bill Gates in recognition of his fight against infectious diseases, his warnings about artificial intelligence, and his funding of improvements in education since a smarter civilization is one that is more likely to survive and flourish.

About Lifeboat Foundation

The Lifeboat Foundation is a nonprofit nongovernmental organization dedicated to encouraging scientific advancements while helping humanity survive existential risks and possible misuse of increasingly powerful technologies, including genetic engineering, nanotechnology, and robotics/AI, as we move towards the Singularity.

(17) PLAY BALL. “Chewbacca Mom and some special ‘Star Wars’ friends threw the first pitch at the Rays game”, as major league baseball blogger Chris Landers told Cut4 readers.

Over 150 million Facebook views later, “Chewbacca Mom” was born. She sang with James Corden. She was offered a full scholarship to Southeastern University in Florida. She started charging $20 for an autograph. And finally, on Saturday, the cherry on top: Payne threw out the first pitch before the Rays’ 4-3 loss to the Astros.

But, befitting a woman who was brought happiness to so many, it wasn’t just any first pitch. It was a “Star Wars” first pitch — featuring the cantina song, another Wookiee, and of course, Taylor Motter at catcher wearing a Chewy mask.

[Thanks to Cat Rambo, Jim Henley, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day JJ.]

194 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/13/16 Carry On My Wayward Scroll

  1. @Hampus Eckermann

    Using the same United Nations numbers I believe you’re looking at, four examples:

    United States of America
    Loose gun laws
    4.9 homicides per 100,000

    Switzerland
    Loose gun laws (classifying here mainly because of Swiss Militia system)
    0.5 homicides per 100,000

    Mexico
    Tight gun laws
    15.7 homicides per 100,000

    Japan
    Tight gun laws
    0.3 homicides per 100,000

    Essentially those statistics are meaningless in regards to gun policy. There are cultural factors at play. Tightening US gun laws would not be a bad thing but until those cultural factors leading to a high violence rate change I don’t think it has that much of an impact.

  2. Tasha Turner:

    “Is that new information? All I’ve seen is he was questioned several times by the FBI but they didn’t see a reason to continue investigating. I’ve seen a senator make a statement that he was on a watch list but not cite their sources.”

    You are correct. Seems like he was removed from the watch list.

  3. @.Bruce Arthur:

    Nicole, if you were leaping to my defense in your response to Steve Davidson, it’s okay; I didn’t take it personally. I tend to automatically turn down the fervency of Steve’s comments when I read them; they tend to be, umm, strongly worded but (I think) sincere.

    I wasn’t leaping to your defense in particular – I hope you noticed I included myself in those whom he insulted. I’m not happy with Steve’s tendency to imply that those who do not do like he does are less moral than he, whether the subject is how you vote on Hugos during slate season or how much you’re willing to expose yourself to hate speech.

    I mean, I’m happy for you that you are able to filter that tendency out. I hope you’ll understand that I nevertheless felt the need to call it out.

    I’ve wasted enough spoons reading JCW’s past opinions, I don’t feel like wasting another. Steve may just have more spoons available than I do, and that’s fine.

    That’s the thing, though. He obviously does have more spoons available, but he doesn’t seem to consider “I haven’t the spare spoons to do so” sufficient reason not to seek out and read JCW’s latest hatescreed. It’s incredibly privileged to present the thing that requires more spoons to do as being the most moral thing to do.

    And considering that many of us don’t have the spoons for JCW’s hatescreeds precisely because we get nickel and dimed by that sort of bigotry every day, on the internet and face-to-face, much of it aimed at us personally, simply by being who we are, it’s really rich for Steve to imply that we’re somehow less connected to reality by virtue of not actively seeking out more bigoted content to read.

    I value the general tendency of File770 regulars to engage with each other in good faith, and to extend the assumption of good faith to each other. To have a regular snidely imply that anyone who doesn’t have the spoons to deal with yet more ugliness from JCW’s keyboard is failing some moral duty runs rather counter to that community standard.

  4. @Nicole – there are a few File770 regulars who seem very happy to ravage anyone who falls afoul of their opinions. I love the general tone of this place, and have majorly toned down my usual vitriolic rhetoric in respect of OGH and the people who read and post here, but there have been some conversations, particularly lately, that make me less inclined to be pleasant. I’m starting to worry that people who have interesting things to say but are not interested in displaying their plumage are being discouraged from posting.

  5. “Essentially those statistics are meaningless in regards to gun policy. “

    Essentially, those statistics are not meaningless at all. It is only that you can’t look at a figure or gun law alone. You mention Switzerland, but there are no “loose gun laws” there. Actually, they had a large problem with increasing crime and started to regulate their laws in the 90:s and have made a lot of amendments between 2004 and 2010.

    – You are not allowed to own a firearm if you have ever been involved in domestic violence.
    – You need to reapply for a license every five years.
    – You are not allowed to walk around with your gun in town as in US. You need a special permit for that and you will not get one unless it is for your occupation.
    – When transporting a weapon, it may not be loaded. Ammunition must be separated from weapon. It is highly regulated for when you are allowed to transport a weapon.
    – Citizens who have their weapon as part of military standby are no longer allowed to store their ammunition at home, this because of the increase in suicide rates. This means that number of guns does not equal number of loaded guns. Also, it is possible to store your gun at an armory of the military.
    – It is regulated on how weapons must be stored at home.

  6. Rev. Bob

    Something I want to know: how can I, an average citizen, reliably distinguish between a Good Guy With A Gun™ and a cold-blooded killer who’s about to go on a rampage? Better yet, if the killer starts shooting, the GGWAG fires back, and the police arrive on the scene during the firefight, how do they know which is which?

    that’s easy: when you point in the direction of a Good Guy, the crosshairs on the screen go red. </sarc>

  7. I simply think that the only chance of implementing gun control the US is to invent a time machine, go back in time, and prevent the 2nd amendment.

    I think you can manage with a less ambitious time machine. You only need to go back about 25 years, maybe 40 if you want to prepare the ground properly to get the decision that all that “well regulated militia” guff was just a sign that the Founding Fathers were excessively found of their own voices.
    Require people to be part of a well regulated militia before they’re allowed guns and that solves a lot of the problem.

  8. Most suicides are a short-term impulse with lasting consequences. That’s why changing the type of stove in Britain or putting fences along bridges in the US could cut the suicide rate–people who were only temporarily balked would change their minds.

    Maybe a lot of murders are also short-term impulses with lasting consequences. It’s harder to say because the NRA is terrified of any research on whether guns make you safer or not and if so how much (why is that I wonder). But if that were true it would explain why making guns harder to get or changing how they can be stored in the house is associated with lower murder rates. Anything that slows down a steamingly angry person or a suddenly frightened person or a temporarily depressed person from shooting gives them time to calm down and avoid murder, suicide or accident.

    I do think more epidemiological research on gun violence would be a great thing and changing the laws the NRA put in place forbidding that should be an immediate focus (though I would resist any “don’t do anything else until this thing we will make impossible has been achieved” formulations on that.)

  9. That’s why changing the type of stove in Britain

    There are probably stats about this available somewhere, but I don’t know where to look.
    in the 1960s we had gas ovens run on coal gas, which was toxic (see Sylvia Plath). These days everything’s just methane with a smell added to help people spot leaks. Non-toxic, not an effective means of committing suicide.

  10. Household gun ownership has declined for decades, manufacturers know this, and like many corporations aren’t shy about squeezing money from their customers. So, every mass shooting is followed by the claim that the 2nd Amendment, no, the Constitution, no, America is in imminent danger. It’s a form of advertisement and the NRA and the Republican party are willing participants.

    It’s true that violence springs from toxic subcultures, but until the frame of reference is shifted from the legitimacy of gun ownership to the way the gun industry manipulates America to please its stakeholders, I don’t think we’ll see any real resolution.

    Igor Volsky has been connecting politicians to their NRA contributions, while also demonstrating the ethical bankruptcy of “thoughts and prayers” without action.

    In general, I see effective gun control as following tobacco control, in the combination of fact and advocacy that, over decades, achieved success. It won’t be easy, but it can be done.

    Meanwhile, John C. Wright makes noises that resemble words! Astounding!

  11. @Hampus Eckermann

    you can’t look at a figure or gun law alone

    Indeed. I think that was exactly my point.

    The Americas and Africa have the highest rates of homicide in the world. I don’t think it is because of gun policies. It is about countries with high poverty, large income inequality gaps, weak social safety nets, and poorly supported mental health systems.

    To change the violence rates, I think that is the change we need to focus on. Gun laws are largely a sideshow distraction.

  12. I want the federal law that forbids the CDC from studying the epidemiology of gun violence to be repealed. We can’t effectively stop gun violence if we don’t properly understand it.

    Anyone opposed? If so, why?

  13. “The Americas and Africa have the highest rates of homicide in the world. I don’t think it is because of gun policies.”

    Gun policies are absolutely part of the reason for why american homicide rates rank together with african countries. There is no doubt whatsoever about this.

  14. It is very easy. When Australia got a problem with masshootings, they changed their laws and tightened regulations. Crimes plummeted.

    When Switzerland got a problem with high suciderates and higher crime, they changed their laws and tightened regulations. Crims plummeted.

    When US gets a problem with crimes and masshootings…

    …they will blame it on everything but the availability of guns. Of assault rifles. It is impossible, people will say to get crimes and homicides down with regulations. When every study shows that it is very, very possible. Where we have lots of real world examples, even from the us, that it is very possible.

    This is ridiculous. The debate about firearms is totally insane. It is clear and total madness to say that you have change the violence rates while not being the least interested in getting the fucking assault rifles away from civilians.

  15. @Stoic Cynic: the fetishisation of the 2nd amendment in the US is absolutely, 100% part of the problem, though.

  16. @Oneiros

    I don’t disagree. From a utilitarian perspective it’s why any changes to gun laws in the US are unlikely in the near term. A large portion of the population sees gun rights as a fundamental civil liberty and have become increasingly radicalized. Even common sense measures like universal background checks or presenting ID to buy ammunition are facing an uphill battle because of it.

    @Hampus Eckermann

    Assault weapons is a marketing term. Assault weapons in a military sense have not been easy to obtain legally in the US since the 1930’s. What we call assault rifles in the context of gun laws are really self loading rifles that look like military automatic weapons. There are a fair number of rifles similar in operation that just don’t look as ugly as assault weapons. It’s why the 1994 assault weapons ban was theatre. It focused on cosmetics. The gun manufacturers stepped right through the loopholes. Also, it should be pointed out – self loading rifles, outside mass shootings, are also rarely used in crimes.

    In context of mass shootings you have roughly two groups of shooters: the mentally ill and the ideologically motivated. The ideologically motivated are likely not going to be deterred by gun laws. Further Oklahoma City and Boston didn’t involve guns. The mentally ill are a different issue. It’s part of where we need to bolster the US mental health system.

  17. the fetishisation of the 2nd amendment in the US is absolutely, 100% part of the problem, though.

    For me at least, my mention of the 2nd Amendment wasn’t fetishizing it, but pointing out that it exists–and that and that passing constitutional amendments– including repealing or modifying earlier constitutional amendments–is (rightfully) a slow and difficult process. Also that because of the 2nd Amendment there are several hundred million guns in the US. If you live in a country with .001% of people owning guns, it is arguably not very rational to want a gun for self-defense. But in a country with more guns than people it is (again, arguably) entirely rational to think that you might need one of your own–better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

    I am confident that any attempts to modify or nullify the 2nd Amendment would fail. I am also absolutely, positively, 100 percent certain that any attempt to confiscate all guns would immediately lead to a literal revolution and civil war. The only way there would be to get rid of the several hundred million guns in the US would be to go back in time and make them never legal in the first place.

    (For the record, not only do I not own a gun, I’ve never even fired one.)

  18. Stoic Cynic;

    It is totally irrelevent for the discussion if it is a marketing term. The point is: these weapons have no civilian use and should not be in the hands of the civilians. That should be obvious to absolutely everyone – at least after this massacre.

    The hell anything gets better with mentally ill people having assault rifles. It is ridiculous to try to avoid discussing the weapons after this kind of massacre. The world is not Blackadder. You can’t slaughter this many people with a fruitknife.

    More regulations is so totally obvious that ot boggles me how people try to avoid talking about it.

  19. And the strawmen again. Regulation is not about confiscating every existing weapon. There are lots of laws, some that might pass, some that might not:

    – Forbidd selling of assault weapons that have no civilian use.
    – Extensive beackgroundchecks in every state.
    – Have to renew license every five years.
    – Regulate where weapons are allowed.
    – Regulate how weapons are stored at home.
    – Regulate when and how a weapon might be transported.

    And so on. Everything does not have to pass at once. The wuestion is if these are good changes. Then work patiently for one regulation at a time and see what might pass.

  20. Darren Garrison, the founding fathers had gun control laws. They *wrote* the second amendment. So, why can’t we?

    I’m a staunch supporter of the first amendment. And I also believe that falsely yelling “fire” in a crowded theater, or inciting a riot, or making credible threats of bodily harm to another person, should all be illegal. And I don’t see a contradiction in that.

  21. Darren Garrison, the founding fathers had gun control laws. They *wrote* the second amendment. So, why can’t we?

    As far as I know (I make no claim to be an expert on this) the second amendment is the founding fathers’ gun control law. (Some googling shows me that the founding fathers did have a gun control law–all men were required to own one.)

    I’m a staunch supporter of the first amendment. And I also believe that falsely yelling “fire” in a crowded theater, or inciting a riot, or making credible threats of bodily harm to another person, should all be illegal.

    To make the comparison to the first amendment, it is more like saying that it is okay to outlaw pencils because you could potentially write a threat. The fact is, the vast majority of people who own guns (even high-capacity guns) never commit mass-murder with them.

  22. Guns are a common murder weapon. Regulations have proven to decrease the amount of murders and suicides. To constantly avoid this fact is just weird.

  23. I also have a problem with the deference people show old dead people. They didn’t have precognition. They had no idea how the future would look. They were human and all their ideas weren’t bright.

    Being fundamentalist regarding centuries old law is not better than being fundamentalist regarding religious law.

  24. Hampus Eckerman: Being fundamentalist regarding centuries old law is not better than being fundamentalist regarding religious law.

    I think your application of the statement needs to be challenged, because you only mean that in a kind of cafeteria-selection way. What more fundamental law is there than that against murder?

  25. Darren Garrison, As far as I know (I make no claim to be an expert on this) the second amendment is the founding fathers’ gun control law. (Some googling shows me that the founding fathers did have a gun control law–all men were required to own one.)

    It was forbidden for slaves to own guns. Is that not a gun control law?

    Also, as I understand it, belonging to a militia was a requirement for free men in many (not all) states. Does that mean you should be required to belong to the National Guard?

  26. Mike Glyer:

    “I think your application of the statement needs to be challenged, because you only mean that in a kind of cafeteria-selection way. What more fundamental law is there than that against murder?”

    I do think we differ in the usage of the expression fundamentalism? I mean to see a hundred or thousand years old scripture as commandments that need never be reevaluated or changed. That has to be accepted as a whole.

    I know that this is partly a cultural thing. The swedish constitution is changed now and then (mostly in small ways) to update to new demands and expectations from the society.

  27. I also have a problem with the deference people show old dead people. They didn’t have precognition. They had no idea how the future would look. They were human and all their ideas weren’t bright.

    It isn’t “deference to old people”–it is acknowledgment of the fact that these are the rights and limitations that are laid out for Americans in the Constitution, and that to change those rights, certain rules must be followed. It is no different than the case of the constitution of the WSFS. Not being a member I’ve not been keeping up with the several threads recently discussing new proposals for modifying the constitution to make it harder to game the Hugos, but the very fact that there must be such proposals–and such discussions–is because the rules laid out in the constitution of the WSFS must be treated like they mean something. If you can arbitrarily change the rules to say whatever you want them to say without due process because the original composers of the WSFS constitution didn’t anticipate the puppies, then the constitution of the WSFS is meaningless.

    It is the same with the US Constitution. Don’t like it? Attempt to change it through the established constitutional amendment process. But for the Constitution to mean anything, the rules for how to change it must be followed. And if you can’t get enough people to agree with you to actually pass the changes? Tough. That’s part of living in a democracy.

  28. (For those unfamiliar with the process for amending the US Constitution, here it is, with lots of utterly superfluous drawings of cheerful people of multiple ethnicities.)

  29. It was forbidden for slaves to own guns.

    Loyalty oaths were imposed by some gun regulations. Race-based exclusions barred free blacks from owning firearms. Guns were prohibited in some locations, or at certain events. Many militia laws were actually gun control laws in disguise – regulating what types of firearms could be owned, and by who, and under what conditions they could be stored. Regulations governing the storage of gunpowder were common. Laws banning carrying (or selling) concealed firearms were relatively common. And so on.

  30. @Darren: “with lots of utterly superfluous drawings of cheerful people of multiple ethnicities.”

    Yes, because that’s exactly the sort of hilarious comment that everybody finds useful right after dozens of “cheerful people of multiple ethnicities” have been slaughtered.

    Way to be utterly tone-deaf, DG.

  31. Darren Garrison:

    So what you say is that it is nothing special to think that an amendment is stupid and need to be updated to modern society. Good.

    Otherwise, the Second Amendment is ambigous enough to mean more or less anything. Does “The right of the people” mean The People, in which it may be delegated to a part, or the people as in ordinary people? Is it a statement by itself or connected to the statement before? Depends on who you ask and the politics of the current judge.

  32. Rev Bob: Hope you didn’t pull any muscles while really, really reaching for that one.

    (And that’s the most polite response I could think of.)

  33. So what you say is that it is nothing special to think that an amendment is stupid and need to be updated to modern society. Good.

    Yes, I would be perfectly okay if the 2nd Amendment had never existed. But it does exist, and we are stuck with that fact. There are more than 300,000,000 guns in the US. Attempts at changes now are closing the barn door after the horse escaped, attempting to squeeze the toothpaste back into the tube, trying to put the genie back into the lamp, or whatever other metaphor you want to come up with.

  34. I dunno, Darren, I was thinking it was an utterly superfluous comment on your part at best, and an unpleasant slap to people of non-white ethnicities. I didn’t tie it to the murder of the Latin@ LGBT community in Orlando, but here was nothing either necessary, useful, wise, observant, or even polite about your remark.

  35. That link definitely had a lot of goofy illustrations on it, but the fact that it featured people of different ethnicities is not what made them goofy and bringing that part up does kinda come across in a “the only reason to include not-white people is to be politically correct” type of snark, which I agree does seem a bit tonedeaf given the identities of the victims of the shooting massacre.

  36. “There are more than 300,000,000 guns in the US. Attempts at changes now are closing the barn door after the horse escaped, attempting to squeeze the toothpaste back into the tube, trying to put the genie back into the lamp, or whatever other metaphor you want to come up with.”

    Again. Regulation does not have to mean to confiscate every existing weapon. There are a lot of regulations that can be passed. I gave you several examples above. Why are you ignoring that comment?

  37. “Yes, I would be perfectly okay if the 2nd Amendment had never existed. But it does exist, and we are stuck with that fact. “

    We are also stuck with that the ammendment only says “right to bear arms”, not what arms. It is ok today to ban grenade launchers. It would also be ok to ban all fully automatics and semi-automatics. Backgroundchecking is allowed today, so it is no problem to have that. There is no problem with having regulations on how weapons need to be stored at home. There is no problem saying where it is allowed to bear arms. The amendment allows for saying that the arms are only allowed on private property with the property owners explicit acceptance.

    I don’t understand why people use the second amendment as an argument. You could have as strict regulation as in Sweden with that amendment.

  38. Stoic Cynic:

    There are a fair number of rifles similar in operation that just don’t look as ugly as assault weapons. It’s why the 1994 assault weapons ban was theatre. It focused on cosmetics.

    Cosmetics are not irrelevant, though. How guns looks is a big part of what makes them cool and macho. I see a lot of US gun nuts who talk about how cool their guns are. How macho. How manly they look with their gun. People have facebook profile photos where they show off their macho, military style rifles.

    To put it bluntly: If guns where mandated to be pink and fluffy, it would be much more difficult to make yourself believe that you can restore your masculinity by brandishing a gun.

    The ideologically motivated are likely not going to be deterred by gun laws.

    I think it’s funny how people insist that gun laws will both take guns away from people, and be totally inefficient in taking guns away from people.

    Sure, it’s pretty much impossible to keep guns away from all people who shouldn’t have one. There will be guns among criminals. It will be possible to get a gun outside legal channels. It will be possible to get a gun through legal channels, despite having sinister intents. But it’s not difficult to make it much, much harder to acquire a gun without a respectable intent. If anything, the sentiment that gun laws will be a serious problem for law-abiding people, yet irrelevant for bad guys, shows an amazing lack of faith in your own lawmakers and law enforcement agencies.

    ***
    Darren Garrison:

    If you live in a country with .001% of people owning guns, it is arguably not very rational to want a gun for self-defense.

    You actually exaggerate the difference in gun ownership. I live in a country where approx. 10% of the population own guns. I have lived most of my life in a household with a gun – but it’s always been stored in a way that makes it unusable for self defence. Sweden (where Hampus lives) have similar numbers. I don’t see any need for a gun for self-defense. Rather, I am certain that more liberal gun laws, allowing people to own and carry guns for self defence, would make me less safe not more.

    The only way there would be to get rid of the several hundred million guns in the US would be to go back in time and make them never legal in the first place.

    A long time ago, in a discussion about regrets, I saw a sentiment I rather liked: Having regrets shows a failure to consider the future. Instead of regretting that you didn’t do something, do it now. Instead of regretting that you didn’t pick up a guitar ten years ago, pick one up now – and ten years from now you will be someone with ten years of guitar playing under the belt.

    And I think the same sentiment applies to what you say here: Instead of regretting that gun control didn’t happen many years ago, start doing it now. Sure, bringing guns under control will have to be a gradual process that takes decades. But the best way to reach the goal is to work towards it – not sitting around moaning that you didn’t start earlier.

    (And to make this a little more relevant to File770: I think this sentiment also permeates the characters in T. Kingfisher’s stories, and it’s a big part of what I like in them. Gerta have no idea how she’s actually going to save Kay, but she plods on. She doesn’t give up when she finds out she’s wasted half a year in the witch’s house – she plods on. And so on.)

  39. Again. Regulation does not have to mean to confiscate every existing weapon. There are a lot of regulations that can be passed. I gave you several examples above. Why are you ignoring that comment?

    Because while it may work well for some cultures that put high value on conformity, those regulations will be seen as noting more than something to work around in a culture that idolizes the idea of “rugged individualism.” A society where nobody is allowed guns can work. A society where everybody is allowed guns can work (for a certain definition of “work.”) But a society where a majority of people can have guns while a smaller group are denied them? The people that want them will find a way to get them, regulations be damned. (And that goes for any prohibited item, not just guns–alcohol during prohibition, and “illegal drugs” now, for example.) People wanting to commit crimes are the least likely to be concerned about regulations.

  40. “Because while it may work well for some cultures that put high value on conformity, those regulations will be seen as noting more than something to work around in a culture that idolizes the idea of “rugged individualism.” “

    And still you can have law that says to fasten your seatbelt.

    “But a society where a majority of people can have guns while a smaller group are denied them?”

    I see that you totally, to 100%, ignored every example of regulation I gave.

  41. @Darren Garrison:

    The fact is, the vast majority of people who own guns (even high-capacity guns) never commit mass-murder with them.

    What about plain old regular murder? Or manslaughter? Or accidental shootings? I admit I don’t have the spoons to look up stats here, but it is so much easier to end a life with a gun than without, deliberately or no.

    The vast majority of people never commit mass-murder, period. But the fact that the US has so many tools for easy killing available scares the everlovin’ crap out of me. As does the fact that there are many citizens who believe that they have a fundamental right to have as many easy killing tools as they want.

    @Mike Glyer:

    What more fundamental law is there than that against murder?

    The problem, as I see it, is that there is encoded in a lot of fundamentalism an attitude if not an actual decree that “killing [insert race/religion/gender] is not really murder because they are not really people”.

  42. To put it bluntly: If guns where mandated to be pink and fluffy, it would be much more difficult to make yourself believe that you can restore your masculinity by brandishing a gun.

    That’s working from a stereotype that only men want guns. There are plenty of pink guns for women. (Which, of course, is working from the stereotypes that only women want pink and women want only pink.)

    ETA never heard of this group before googling for photos of pink guns.

  43. Dawn Incognito: The problem, as I see it, is that there is encoded in a lot of fundamentalism an attitude if not an actual decree that “killing [insert race/religion/gender] is not really murder because they are not really people”.

    What I was trying to point out is that human cultures generally have a prohibition on murder. That can be traced to ancient times. So Hampus’ argument against venerating centuries old laws — which he is arguing to support gun control, and in opposition to someone citing the 2nd amendment — is superficially appealing but inherently self-contradicting, in that there are laws of ancient origin he wouldn’t challenge.

    “Murder” itself is an encoded term, with exceptions for self-defense, or war, that vary among cultures, nations, or religions. I’m interested in having gun control, because that will make it harder for people with their own notions about the exceptions to walk into public places and act on them.

  44. Darren Garrison: Hm. I booted The Phantom for trying to post that link yesterday. I guess made the wrong decision.

  45. The fact is, the vast majority of people who own guns (even high-capacity guns) never commit mass-murder with them.

    The vast majority of people who buy fertilizer don’t make bombs out of it, but we still have regulations on the sale and distribution of fertilizer in an effort to monitor its use and prevent people from doing exactly that.

  46. Which link? The Pink Pistols one? I’d never heard of them, but apparently they are fairly significant with 45 chapters. (Of course, the wiki doesn’t say how many people per chapter–could be a total membership of 150 for all I know.)

  47. That’s working from a stereotype that only men want guns

    No, it’s not. It’s working from the fact that almost all mass shooters are men.

    And it’s working from the fact that US gun culture apparently says it’s completely normal to post pics like the one Hampus linked to, or like this, or this.

    And it’s working from the assumption that there’s a connection between the gun fetishization that goes on in pictures like that, and the thought processes that causes young men to think it’s a good idea to become a mass shooter.

    (And just to head off the inevitable misunderstanding: No, I’m not saying that there’s any direct causality between the specific pics I’ve linked to and any mass shootings. Those are examples of a culture, not individual culprits.)

    (Also also, I advice against going to the profile of the second pic. It’s as tasteless as last year.)

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