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The United States of Guns

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Like many of you, I read the news of a single person killing at least 17 people in Parkland, Florida today. While this is an outrageous and horrifying event, it isn’t surprising or shocking in any way in a country where more than 33,000 people die from gun violence each year and guns that can fire dozens of rounds a minute are perfectly legal.

America is a stuck in a Groundhog Day loop of gun violence. We’ll keep waking up, stuck in the same reality of oppression, carnage, and ruined lives until we can figure out how to effect meaningful change. I’ve collected some articles here about America’s dysfunctional relationship with guns, most of which I’ve shared before. Change is possible — there are good reasons to control the ownership of guns and control has a high likelihood of success — but how will our country find the political will to make it happen?

An armed society is not a free society:

Arendt offers two points that are salient to our thinking about guns: for one, they insert a hierarchy of some kind, but fundamental nonetheless, and thereby undermine equality. But furthermore, guns pose a monumental challenge to freedom, and particular, the liberty that is the hallmark of any democracy worthy of the name — that is, freedom of speech. Guns do communicate, after all, but in a way that is contrary to free speech aspirations: for, guns chasten speech.

This becomes clear if only you pry a little more deeply into the N.R.A.’s logic behind an armed society. An armed society is polite, by their thinking, precisely because guns would compel everyone to tamp down eccentric behavior, and refrain from actions that might seem threatening. The suggestion is that guns liberally interspersed throughout society would cause us all to walk gingerly — not make any sudden, unexpected moves — and watch what we say, how we act, whom we might offend.

We’re sacrificing America’s children to “our great god Gun”:

Read again those lines, with recent images seared into our brains — “besmeared with blood” and “parents’ tears.” They give the real meaning of what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School Friday morning. That horror cannot be blamed just on one unhinged person. It was the sacrifice we as a culture made, and continually make, to our demonic god. We guarantee that crazed man after crazed man will have a flood of killing power readily supplied him. We have to make that offering, out of devotion to our Moloch, our god. The gun is our Moloch. We sacrifice children to him daily — sometimes, as at Sandy Hook, by directly throwing them into the fire-hose of bullets from our protected private killing machines, sometimes by blighting our children’s lives by the death of a parent, a schoolmate, a teacher, a protector. Sometimes this is done by mass killings (eight this year), sometimes by private offerings to the god (thousands this year).

The gun is not a mere tool, a bit of technology, a political issue, a point of debate. It is an object of reverence. Devotion to it precludes interruption with the sacrifices it entails. Like most gods, it does what it will, and cannot be questioned. Its acolytes think it is capable only of good things. It guarantees life and safety and freedom. It even guarantees law. Law grows from it. Then how can law question it?

Roger Ebert on the media’s coverage of mass shootings:

Let me tell you a story. The day after Columbine, I was interviewed for the Tom Brokaw news program. The reporter had been assigned a theory and was seeking sound bites to support it. “Wouldn’t you say,” she asked, “that killings like this are influenced by violent movies?” No, I said, I wouldn’t say that. “But what about ‘Basketball Diaries’?” she asked. “Doesn’t that have a scene of a boy walking into a school with a machine gun?” The obscure 1995 Leonardo Di Caprio movie did indeed have a brief fantasy scene of that nature, I said, but the movie failed at the box office (it grossed only $2.5 million), and it’s unlikely the Columbine killers saw it.

The reporter looked disappointed, so I offered her my theory. “Events like this,” I said, “if they are influenced by anything, are influenced by news programs like your own. When an unbalanced kid walks into a school and starts shooting, it becomes a major media event. Cable news drops ordinary programming and goes around the clock with it. The story is assigned a logo and a theme song; these two kids were packaged as the Trench Coat Mafia. The message is clear to other disturbed kids around the country: If I shoot up my school, I can be famous. The TV will talk about nothing else but me. Experts will try to figure out what I was thinking. The kids and teachers at school will see they shouldn’t have messed with me. I’ll go out in a blaze of glory.”

In short, I said, events like Columbine are influenced far less by violent movies than by CNN, the NBC Nightly News and all the other news media, who glorify the killers in the guise of “explaining” them. I commended the policy at the Sun-Times, where our editor said the paper would no longer feature school killings on Page 1. The reporter thanked me and turned off the camera. Of course the interview was never used. They found plenty of talking heads to condemn violent movies, and everybody was happy.

Jill Lepore on the United States of Guns:

There are nearly three hundred million privately owned firearms in the United States: a hundred and six million handguns, a hundred and five million rifles, and eighty-three million shotguns. That works out to about one gun for every American. The gun that T. J. Lane brought to Chardon High School belonged to his uncle, who had bought it in 2010, at a gun shop. Both of Lane’s parents had been arrested on charges of domestic violence over the years. Lane found the gun in his grandfather’s barn.

The United States is the country with the highest rate of civilian gun ownership in the world. (The second highest is Yemen, where the rate is nevertheless only half that of the U.S.) No civilian population is more powerfully armed. Most Americans do not, however, own guns, because three-quarters of people with guns own two or more. According to the General Social Survey, conducted by the National Policy Opinion Center at the University of Chicago, the prevalence of gun ownership has declined steadily in the past few decades. In 1973, there were guns in roughly one in two households in the United States; in 2010, one in three. In 1980, nearly one in three Americans owned a gun; in 2010, that figure had dropped to one in five.

A Land Without Guns: How Japan Has Virtually Eliminated Shooting Deaths:

The only guns that Japanese citizens can legally buy and use are shotguns and air rifles, and it’s not easy to do. The process is detailed in David Kopel’s landmark study on Japanese gun control, published in the 1993 Asia Pacific Law Review, still cited as current. (Kopel, no left-wing loony, is a member of the National Rifle Association and once wrote in National Review that looser gun control laws could have stopped Adolf Hitler.)

To get a gun in Japan, first, you have to attend an all-day class and pass a written test, which are held only once per month. You also must take and pass a shooting range class. Then, head over to a hospital for a mental test and drug test (Japan is unusual in that potential gun owners must affirmatively prove their mental fitness), which you’ll file with the police. Finally, pass a rigorous background check for any criminal record or association with criminal or extremist groups, and you will be the proud new owner of your shotgun or air rifle. Just don’t forget to provide police with documentation on the specific location of the gun in your home, as well as the ammo, both of which must be locked and stored separately. And remember to have the police inspect the gun once per year and to re-take the class and exam every three years.

Australia’s gun laws stopped mass shootings and reduced homicides, study finds:

From 1979 to 1996, the average annual rate of total non-firearm suicide and homicide deaths was rising at 2.1% per year. Since then, the average annual rate of total non-firearm suicide and homicide deaths has been declining by 1.4%, with the researchers concluding there was no evidence of murderers moving to other methods, and that the same was true for suicide.

The average decline in total firearm deaths accelerated significantly, from a 3% decline annually before the reforms to a 5% decline afterwards, the study found.

In the 18 years to 1996, Australia experienced 13 fatal mass shootings in which 104 victims were killed and at least another 52 were wounded. There have been no fatal mass shootings since that time, with the study defining a mass shooting as having at least five victims.

From The Onion, ‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens:

At press time, residents of the only economically advanced nation in the world where roughly two mass shootings have occurred every month for the past eight years were referring to themselves and their situation as “helpless.”

But America is not Australia or Japan. As Dan Hodges said on Twitter:

In retrospect Sandy Hook marked the end of the US gun control debate. Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over.

I hate to leave it on that note, but Hodges’ words ring with the awful truth that all those lives and our diminished freedom & equality are somehow worth it to the United States as a society.

Tags: guns   USA
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StunGod
4 days ago
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How pants-shittingly scared of the world do you have to be to load up on guns and argue for more? The people arguing for more guns aren't patriots, they're cowards.

I intend to portray them as such from now on, and encourage everybody else to do the same.
Portland, Oregon, USA, Earth

7 Prefab Companies That Oregon Dwellers Should Know

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Modular homes available in the Beaver State, known for its abundant forests, place emphasis on sustainability and stay connected to the region's timber legacy.

Salem, Oregon-based Ideabox approaches prefabricated homes from a modern and sustainable point of view, seeking to build prefab residences that are beautiful, efficient, and affordable. With 9 basic types that can be customized, the homes start at 400-500 square feet and reach about 1,600 square feet. Each home is built with open-web engineered trusses, insulation with high R-values, dual pane low-e windows, and EnergyStar-certified appliances.

Last year, 88 percent of Oregon's healthy population growth was due to newcomers, no doubt drawn by the state's West Coast attitude and varied, pristine landscapes. If you're thinking about a move to Oregon or simply daydreaming about setting up a winter cabin near Mount Hood, consider looking into these prefab home builders and designers that are based in, or provide service to, the state of Oregon.

TLC Modular Homes

At 939 square feet on the main floor, the

At 939 square feet on the main floor, the "Get-Away" cabin by TLC Modular Homes also features about 150 square feet of an outdoor covered deck and a lofted second floor. TLC Modular Homes, while based in Goldendale, Washington, services areas in both Oregon and Washington state, and they offer modular homes that vary from more traditional styles like Cape Cod homes to smaller, rustic cabins, all made in their proprietary factory that opened in 2000.

Courtesy of TLC Modular Homes

The couple desired a new home that would suit their eco-conscious lifestyle. On their must-have list was a location close to Seattle’s recreational-friendly Greenlake, a large roof deck, eco-friendly materials that reduced their carbon footprint, and surprisingly, no garage. “It is a modular home, so basically you're saving a lot of money on the [construction] time," says the team behind Greenfab, which served as general contractor for the project. "Your construction costs are also way lower.”

Greenfab designs and sells prefab, modular homes with an emphasis on healthy, energy-efficient, pre-designed or custom homes. From their headquarters in Seattle, Washington, they design and build homes throughout the Pacific Northwest, each with eco-friendly materials like low-VOC paints and finishes, insulation and windows with high R-values, and cost-effective mechanical systems. Many of their homes can also easily incorporate solar panels, and also include an energy-monitoring system to allow owners to collect and measure energy and water use.

Courtesy of Porch.com

Purcell Timber Frame Homes is, as they say, a product of their environment: the beautiful Kootenay mountains of Nelson, British Columbia. They've developed a strong relationship with the local forests, and build prefabricated, packaged, and fully-customized homes in British Columbia and Alberta, Canada as well as several states in the Pacific Northwest, including Oregon. Their homes feature natural timber frames, and their catalogue collection includes bungalows, beach houses, ski chalets, cabins, and cottages that are designed to perform with the elements and be low-maintenance.

Purcell Timber Frame Homes is, as they say, a product of their environment: the beautiful Kootenay mountains of Nelson, British Columbia. They've developed a strong relationship with the local forests, and build prefabricated, packaged, and fully-customized homes in British Columbia and Alberta, Canada, as well as several states in the Pacific Northwest, including Oregon. Their homes feature natural timber frames, and their catalogue collection includes bungalows, beach houses, ski chalets, cabins, and cottages that are designed to perform with the elements and be low-maintenance.

Courtesy of Purcell Timber Frame Homes

Based in Portland, Oregon, MODSpdx is a West Coast builder with a holistic approach to customized and site-specific modular multi-family and commercial buildings. Buildings are constructed in their Portland factory, with a focus on proper ventilation and thermodynamics for the finished product through tight factory controls and an analysis of repeatable processes. Because the company works with a range of general contractors, architects, construction companies, and residential developers, their finished homes vary in aesthetics from traditional to contemporary.

Based in Portland, Oregon, MODSpdx is a West Coast builder with a holistic approach to customized and site-specific modular multi-family and commercial buildings. Buildings are constructed in their Portland factory, with a focus on proper ventilation and thermodynamics for the finished product through tight factory controls and an analysis of repeatable processes. Because the company works with a range of general contractors, architects, construction companies, and residential developers, their finished homes vary in aesthetics from traditional to contemporary.

Courtesy of MODSpdx

Salem, Oregon-based Ideabox approaches prefabricated homes from a modern and sustainable point of view, seeking to build prefab residences that are beautiful, efficient, and affordable. With 9 basic types that can be customized, the homes start at 400-500 square feet and reach about 1,600 square feet. Each home is built with open-web engineered trusses, insulation with high R-values, dual pane low-e windows, and EnergyStar-certified appliances.

Salem, Oregon-based Ideabox approaches prefabricated homes from a modern and sustainable point of view, seeking to build prefab residences that are beautiful, efficient, and affordable. With 9 basic types that can be customized, the homes start at 400 to 500 square feet and reach about 1,600 square feet. Each home is built with open-web engineered trusses, insulation with high R-values, dual pane low-e windows, and EnergyStar-certified appliances.

Photo: ideabox LLC

While sustainability, ease of construction, and affordability are priorities for most kit home companies, not all are as concerned with aesthetics. Stillwater Dwellings, which has participated in both the 2013 and 2014 Dwell on Design exhibitions, puts a distinct emphasis on natural lighting, intelligent floor plans, and high-quality craftsmanship to ensure innovative, modern designs.

While sustainability, ease of construction, and affordability are priorities for most kit home companies, not all are as concerned with aesthetics. Stillwater Dwellings puts a distinct emphasis on natural lighting, intelligent floor plans, and high-quality craftsmanship to ensure innovative, modern designs. Although Stillwater Dwellings is based in Seattle, Washington, they ship throughout the Pacific Northeast and have constructed many homes in Oregon—all with sustainability in mind. Their modular homes reduce energy consumption with super insulation and high-efficiency heating systems, and reduce a building's environmental impact with a fabrication system that reduces waste by up to 50 percent compared to site-built homes. 

Stillwater Dwellings

Method Homes is a custom manufacturer of precision–engineered, prefabricated, modern structures that services the Western United States and Canada, including Oregon. Their homes range in size and style, from 1,200-square-foot rustic cabins to 3,5000-square-foot contemporary residences. Method Homes also has an ongoing commitment to sustainable design, with many of their homes eligible for LEED certification and other environmental certifications; some homes can even be designed to be energy net-zero.

Method Homes is a custom manufacturer of precision–engineered, prefabricated, modern structures that services the Western United States and Canada, including Oregon. Their homes range in size and style, from 1,200-square-foot rustic cabins to 3,5000-square-foot contemporary residences. Method Homes also has an ongoing commitment to sustainable design, with many of their homes eligible for LEED certification and other environmental certifications; some homes can even be designed to be energy net-zero.

Courtesy of Method Homes

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StunGod
11 days ago
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Not a bad option for people who want to build on that perfect lot.
Portland, Oregon, USA, Earth

Take out your zit-picking obsession on this pimple-popping toy (and not your skin)

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If squeezing pimples until they pop and ooze pus sounds appealing to you, then you'll want to check out the Pop It Pal. It's a fleshy, blemish-blowing novelty toy that lets you obsessively squeeze out "pus" without tearing apart your own skin.

The married couple behind it, Billy and Summer Pierce, came up with the idea one day while driving. Billy explains:

You see, one day, my wife and I were driving down the road.

She said:

"How awesome would it be if we could make a pimple that felt real and the pop was huge, just like those videos we watch?"

I thought: "You might be on to something Dear."

Maybe, just maybe, this means she would STOP picking on me all the time. Ladies and Gentlemen, I KNOW you know what I'm talking about.

So, I spent the next year figuring out how to make it happen.

It's now available in their online shop for $19.99. "Pus" refills are available for $5.99.

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StunGod
11 days ago
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I'm getting one of these for somebody close to me. It will make me a hero.
Portland, Oregon, USA, Earth

enigmatic-being: ““Die mad about it” is my favorite shade ever....

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enigmatic-being:

““Die mad about it” is my favorite shade ever. Now stop making women justify wanting birth control coverage because of all the other health care benefits the Pill has.”

DIE MAD ABOUT IT.

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StunGod
11 days ago
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Die mad about it.
Portland, Oregon, USA, Earth

The 'pornographic' exhortations teens heard in Portland band's 'Louie, Louie': Throwback Thursday

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Fifty-four years ago this month, the FBI's Tampa office sent a recording of a Portland band's song to the bureau's laboratory in Washington, D.C.

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StunGod
12 days ago
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I had no idea about this. It's almost something I'd expect to see happening right now.
Portland, Oregon, USA, Earth

A list of 25 Principles of Adult Behavior by John Perry Barlow

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Silicon Valley visionary John Perry Barlow died last night at the age of 70. When he was 30, the EFF founder (and sometime Grateful Dead lyricist) drew up a list of what he called Principles of Adult Behavior. They are:

1. Be patient. No matter what.
2. Don’t badmouth: Assign responsibility, not blame. Say nothing of another you wouldn’t say to him.
3. Never assume the motives of others are, to them, less noble than yours are to you.
4. Expand your sense of the possible.
5. Don’t trouble yourself with matters you truly cannot change.
6. Expect no more of anyone than you can deliver yourself.
7. Tolerate ambiguity.
8. Laugh at yourself frequently.
9. Concern yourself with what is right rather than who is right.
10. Never forget that, no matter how certain, you might be wrong.
11. Give up blood sports.
12. Remember that your life belongs to others as well. Don’t risk it frivolously.
13. Never lie to anyone for any reason. (Lies of omission are sometimes exempt.)
14. Learn the needs of those around you and respect them.
15. Avoid the pursuit of happiness. Seek to define your mission and pursue that.
16. Reduce your use of the first personal pronoun.
17. Praise at least as often as you disparage.
18. Admit your errors freely and soon.
19. Become less suspicious of joy.
20. Understand humility.
21. Remember that love forgives everything.
22. Foster dignity.
23. Live memorably.
24. Love yourself.
25. Endure.

Here’s what these principles meant to Barlow:

I don’t expect the perfect attainment of these principles. However, I post them as a standard for my conduct as an adult. Should any of my friends or colleagues catch me violating one of them, bust me.

You can read remembrances of Barlow from the EFF and from his friends Cory Doctorow and Steven Levy. The EFF wrote:

Barlow was sometimes held up as a straw man for a kind of naive techno-utopianism that believed that the Internet could solve all of humanity’s problems without causing any more. As someone who spent the past 27 years working with him at EFF, I can say that nothing could be further from the truth. Barlow knew that new technology could create and empower evil as much as it could create and empower good. He made a conscious decision to focus on the latter: “I knew it’s also true that a good way to invent the future is to predict it. So I predicted Utopia, hoping to give Liberty a running start before the laws of Moore and Metcalfe delivered up what Ed Snowden now correctly calls ‘turn-key totalitarianism.’”

Barlow’s lasting legacy is that he devoted his life to making the Internet into “a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth … a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity.”

Tags: Cory Doctorow   John Perry Barlow   lists   Steven Levy
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StunGod
13 days ago
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That's a worthwhile list. I think I'll appropriate it.
Portland, Oregon, USA, Earth
TimidWerewolf
13 days ago
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Words to live by
dnorman
13 days ago
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fantastic guidelines. focus. give a shit. love.
Calgary
digdoug
13 days ago
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Mr Barlow would definitely give me a "D" as an adult. But I'm trying.
Louisville, KY
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