Monday, February 19, 2018

The iGen Moves In

A Mass Shooting Generation Says Enough:

This is life for the children of the mass shooting generation. They were born into a world reshaped by the 1999 attack at Columbine High School in Colorado, and grew up practicing active shooter drills and huddling through lockdowns. They talked about threats and safety steps with their parents and teachers. With friends, they wondered darkly whether it could happen at their own school, and who might do it.
Now, this generation is almost grown up. And when a gunman killed 17 people this week at Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Fla., the first response of many of their classmates was not to grieve in silence, but to speak out. Their urgent voices — in television interviews, on social media, even from inside a locked school office as they hid from the gunman — are now rising in the national debate over gun violence in the aftermath of yet another school shooting.
While many politicians after the shooting were focused on mental health and safety, some vocal students at Stoneman Douglas High showed no reluctance in drawing attention to gun control.
They called out politicians over Twitter, with one student telling Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, “YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND.” Shortly after the shooting, Cameron Kasky, a junior at the school, and a few friends started a “Never Again” campaign on Facebook that shared stories and perspectives from other students who survived the rampage.
The reason people are scratching their heads over this sudden wave of activism and defiance is because it's a new generation. The IGeneration (born 2000-2019) is a completely new group of folks who have no affinity for or connection to the self-absorbed, klonopin-addled Millennials (1980-1999), the mid-life meltdown, cranky Gen Xers (1961-1979), or the pearl-clutching bitter, aging Boomers (1941-1960). Basically, anyone over the age of 18 who isn't doing anything to protect them while at school, they have no use for. It's a generation that's had enough of your duck and cover, code red, active shooter drills. They're not old enough to "remember a time when" school shootings rarely occurred; they just simply know this bullshit is wrong.

They find the oldsters tiresome, their arguments about "gun rights" boring, and worse their inaction to do anything about mass shootings reprehensible. They look at Washington and they see nothing but old geezers out of ideas and completely compromised in their beliefs. And apparently, they've had enough and are taking things into their own hands with a planned series of school walkouts over the next few months, openly defying politicians who are trying to use them for political capital, and completely giving the finger to the 2A gun nuts and all their money.

Frankly, if there is any hope in this horrific incident, it's that this next generation is getting woke. This might be the real "time's up" incident we remember as the beginning of the next generation to move in and finally do something about the social problem of mass shootings that the Boomers created, the Gen Xers ignored (because we were too busy being ironic), and the Millennials couldn't focus on (because whacked out on psychotropic meds).

This is my kids' generation. And I couldn't be more hopeful or proud.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Thoughts and Prayers (and STFU)

Gunfire Erupts At School. Leaders Offer Prayers. Children Are Buried. Repeat:

Once again a nation sends thoughts and prayers, because it has happened once again.
The flak-jacketed police storming an American school in lockdown. The anguished parents pressing against the police cordon, the morning’s hurried goodbyes suddenly precious. The assembled media unfolding camera tripods and chasing the same story angles as if for the first time.
Aerial footage of children filing out of the school, hands above heads in surrender to the tense moment. Then their frantic dash to safety, their young minds yet to process what they have just witnessed.
Then that moment when the local law enforcement official, face blanched by the sorrow of what must be imparted, appears before cameras. On Wednesday, it was Scott Israel, the sheriff of Florida’s Broward County, who stepped forward to announce the toll of a massacre inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School: 17 children and adults dead, another 16 wounded.
The suspect in custody: Nikolas Cruz, 19, a former student who was expelled from the school and who unnerved acquaintances with his obsession with violence and guns. After the slaughter, the police said, he dropped his legally purchased rifle — an AR-15 — ran out of the school, and bought a drink at a Subway.
“There are no words,” Sheriff Israel said.
Other than offers of thoughts and prayers. Or “prayers and condolences,” as President Trump wrote on Twitter Wednesday afternoon.
Like literally from a script. Then the pro-gun 2A nuts (and their bought and paid for politicians) start in with the usual "ain't about guns" "too soon to talk about guns" "need more guns to stop 'em" dyslexia, and the cycle starts all over again.
“I spent four years dealing with these kinds of events after Sandy Hook,” said the former agent, Katherine W. Schweit, a co-author of a study of 160 active shooting incidents in the United States. “We are not going to be out of business very soon. When I retired in July, I left a whole team still doing this. It’s not shock — it’s sadness.”
This American ritual does not end with a sheriff’s announcement of the number of dead and wounded. Other parts are acted out in an ever-running play whose plot turns on the national paralysis over the Second Amendment.
An organization called Gun Owners of America complains that “another gunman was able to roam freely without any armed teacher or principal opposing him.” Gun control advocates and opponents criticize each other for not allowing the families of victims even one day to grieve. Pundits solemnly pontificate.
Pontificate by giving us their deep thoughts on the "search" for the "real reasons" why he did it (other than gun availability).
Later, in his televised address, Mr. Trump said he planned to work with state and local leaders to “tackle the difficult issue of mental health.”
On Thursday night, Gov. Rick Scott of Florida, a Republican, told CNN that he would “do everything I can to make sure this never happens again.”
Paul Gold, 45, said he lived next door to the Cruzes in 2009 and 2010 and stayed in touch with Lynda Cruz over the years.
“He had emotional problems and I believe he was diagnosed with autism,” Mr. Gold said of Nikolas Cruz. “He had trouble controlling his temper. He broke things. He would do that sometimes at our house when he lost his temper. But he was always very apologetic afterwards.”
He added: “He would sometimes be hitting his head and covering his ears. One time, I sent him home because he was misbehaving at our house and he took a golf club and smashed one of my trailers.”
Again, and for the umpteenth time on this blog over the years, school shootings and mass shooting have nothing to do with "mental illness." Nothing. It's not about Autism or Bi-Polar or the fact that he has "anger issues." The careful level of planning and execution of these shootings suggests a fully rational person who knows exactly what they're doing. A person mentally ill or in the throes of psychosis would literally be unable to carry out such a thing.

All the mental health rhetoric is simply designed to get the focus off the real culprit: the availability of semi-automatic weapons, which states like Florida make it easier to purchase than they do get a driver's license. In fact, in another cruel irony: you can buy an AR-15 at the age of 18 in Florida and go sweep your school, but you can't buy an alcoholic drink till three years later. 
There is still one more reason the weapons are so popular in states like Florida: They are very easy to buy — and for a 19-year-old like Nikolas Cruz, the shooting suspect, far easier to obtain than a handgun.
Florida has a three-day waiting period for handgun purchases. But anyone without a felony record, domestic abuse conviction, or a handful of other exceptions — such as a commitment to a mental institution — can walk into a gun store, wait a few minutes to clear a background check, and walk out with an AR-15 -style rifle, magazines and ammunition.
Under federal law, you also must be 21 to buy a handgun from a firearms dealer. But 18-year-olds can buy semiautomatic rifles.
Because in Florida, you're mature enough to lug a street sweeper around, but not a beer. Got it.

I'm not saying the other structural and environmental factors didn't play a role. I think the loss of both your parents before you're 19 years old creates anomie, and his already disconnected status from school fueled it as well. And sure, kids get angry, like really pissed, in adolescence. All of them do, and that's particularly tied up in toxic masculinity.
Studies have shown, for example, that in school shootings, the killers virtually always “leak” their intentions, leaving a trail of clues behind them. Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old who the police said has confessed in the Parkland shooting, apparently was no exception: Students reportedly avoided him and joked that if anyone were going to shoot up the school, it would be him.
Researchers have also found that in many, if not most, cases of school violence, the perpetrator has done extensive research on previous school shootings, studying them in detail, often with special attention to the killings at Columbine High School in 1999. A study of nine school shootings in Europe conducted by J. Reid Meloy, a forensic psychologist in San Diego who consults on threat assessment for schools and corporations, found that a third of the killers had “consciously imitated and emulated what had happened in Columbine.”
Finally, there is nascent, but increasing, evidence that violence begets violence, with one school shooting — especially if it receives a lot of publicity — leading to others, a phenomenon that researchers refer to as “contagion.” And some psychologists believe that news media reports of mass killings may propel people who are already at risk of violence into committing copycat crimes.
And before you know it, there will be "Parkland appreciation" websites lauding this dope and what he did on Valentine's Day, and soon more shootings using his methods, etc.

Sadly, there simply isn't the political will to move against these semiautomatic rifles and remove them from society. There isn't any kind of political will at all to do any kind of guns control because, as noted several times already on this blog, the reaction to these kinds mass carnage is more, not less, guns. 

That's right, more. This is how we get more campus carry, concealed carry, open carry (and the quantifiable leap in violence in those states which have passed them v. those who didn't), and pretty soon if we're all armed, every single person will be able to start shooting when a mass shooter enters the building, and when the cops show up, they won't know who the "good guy with the gun" is and who isn't, and believe me, all you Rambo/Deathwish/Dirty Harry mf's will end up dead too. 

Good luck with that. And Happy Belated Valentine's Day, America.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

What Happened In Vegas Shouldn't Have (part whatever)

Las Vegas Gunman's Brain Exam Only Deepens Mystery:

Stephen Paddock, the 64-year-old gunman who killed 58 concertgoers in Las Vegas last October in the worst mass shooting in modern American history, had not had a stroke, brain tumor or a number of other neurological disorders that might have helped explain his actions, a recent autopsy and examination of the remains of his brain showed.
Why would it have? There's never been a neurological or biological link associated with mass shootings, or even violence generally, that's ever been documented. I'm stunned they spent the money to do this.
The brain examination was conducted by Dr. Hannes Vogel, the director of neuropathology at Stanford University. Dr. Vogel said he was able to perform an adequate evaluation, despite damage caused by Mr. Paddock’s fatal, self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
“With a good deal of screening, I didn’t see anything,” he said, that could explain why Mr. Paddock became a calculating mass killer.
There was no evidence of frontotemporal lobar degeneration, which affects “executive functions,” including decision-making and social interactions, and can cause personality changes and unrestrained behavior. That disease would likely have been inconsistent with someone able to engage in meticulous planning.
Again, duh. No one psychotic or delusional could have carried out something as meticulously plotted as what this dumb ass did.
A primary care physician in Las Vegas — who said he had been Mr. Paddock’s doctor since 2009 and had last seen him as a patient roughly a year before the shooting — told officials that he suspected Mr. Paddock had bipolar disorder. That psychological disorder, however, cannot be identified in a typical post-mortem examination of brain structures. And while some studies have shown that people with bipolar disorder are more likely to have a history of violent behavior than the general public, the majority of them do not, and the relationship between mental health and violence involves many other factors.
Right, namely that there is no relationship between mental health and violence.
The doctor, who was not named in the report, also described Mr. Paddock as having behaved oddly, showing little emotion and expressing fear of medications. Mr. Paddock had refused prescriptions for antidepressants, but the physician had prescribed anti-anxiety medicine for him.
LOL. That's like 99% of men in the United States. Guys are socialized to show little emotion and express fear of taking meds or going to the doctor generally. So what?
Even so, Dr. Vogel, the Stanford neuropathologist, said the results of his examination should reassure the public that Mr. Paddock’s doctors had not missed diagnosing a tumor or other major brain disorder that could have been treated.
Yeah, because we're all still out here worrying about whether the old cuck had a brain tumor or that he "snapped." Said no one, ever.

You know what they should have measured? The size of his penis. I'd bet dollars to donuts dude had what the literature calls a "micro-penis," and that "pencil dick" is highly correlated with both gun ownership and violent outcomes.

I'm kidding (maybe) but that's how stupid it is for this general physician to suggest depression or bi-polar had anything to do with it. In fact the whole article is stupid because it furthers the idea that this guy was a lone wolf, and not the product of our culture and society.

I've already explained the motivation in earlier posts. Why the media supposedly keeps "looking for the reasons or motivation behind why he did it" is beyond me. He did it because he could. Because guns everywhere. Because our culture is soaked in violence and blood.  Because toxic masculinity. And because we're a dumb society.

Any other questions?

Friday, February 2, 2018

Further Evidence We've Surrendered

School Shooting Simulation Trains Teachers:

Teachers across the country will soon be able to train for an active shooter on school grounds using a computer simulation that includes realistic details like gunfire, shattered glass and the screams of children.
This vivid and realistic digital simulation was created by the federal government. It was modeled after a real school and includes 20 classrooms, a library, a cafeteria and a gymnasium with blue-padded walls.
To depict the chaos of a school shooting, the software developers studied audio dispatches from the mass killings at Virginia Tech in 2007 and Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.
“It is a very traumatic, very panicky situation,” said John Verrico, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, which funded the $5.6 million program. “We tried to make the environment just that disturbing.”
So to be clear: the federal government funded this with $5.6 million in tax dollars, as opposed to, say, passing sensible gun control. Got it.
Since the attack on Columbine High School in 1999, mitigating the damage of on-campus shootings has been an increasingly urgent priority. More than two-thirds of public schools nationwide practiced their response to a shooting in the 2013-14 academic year, according to the Department of Education; 10 years earlier, fewer than half of schools did so.

School districts may choose to supplement those drills by using the simulation to train staff members to make decisions under pressure. In a demonstration video, students in the simulation huddle in a corner awaiting orders from the teacher, who must select one of seven commands, including “Get out through a window,” “Find a place to hide!” or “Follow me!”

Participants can play as students, teachers and other school employees, or law enforcement. And, in an option reminiscent of first-person shooter video games, they can also play the person with a gun, either as an adult or as a child.
That might seem like an unusual choice, but Mr. Verrico said it was more realistic and effective for a real person to decide the unpredictable actions of an active shooter, rather than leave that to the software.
If this isn't making your blood boil, or at least wonder why on earth we're wasting tax dollars on training people how to both shoot up a school and survive a school shooting, you've got serious f'ing problems. This is the dyslexic mantra "the only way to stop a bad kindergartner with a gun is a good kindergartner with a gun" come to life for the PS4 and Xbox crowd. And it furthers the false DeathWish/Dirty Harry revenge fantasy lurking in every gun nut's brain.
Not everyone in the school security field thinks the simulation is a good idea.
“I would much rather see school staff trying to practice a lockdown between class changes than sitting in front of a computer,” said Ken Trump, a school security consultant.
He added, “I think we’re just sort of grasping for solutions that have a wow impact to them, but they are bypassing the fundamentals.”
Right, fundamentals like PASSING SENSIBLE GUN CONTROL AND GETTING AR-15's AND OTHER STREET SWEEPER SEMI AND AUTOMATIC WEAPONS OFF THE STREETS.

But again, go ahead and concede defeat, arguing "we have to be prepared, just in case." That's not sensible or safety. It's cowardice and surrender and defeat.

Monday, January 29, 2018

#MeThree

How the Finance Industry is Cashing in on #MeToo:

Accusations of sexual harassment have felled dozens of executives, but in one quiet corner of the financial world, the #MeToo movement looks like a golden opportunity.
Companies that offer money to plaintiffs in anticipation of future legal settlements are racing to capitalize on sexual harassment lawsuits.
That is setting off alarms in some quarters because the industry, like payday lenders, has a history of providing cash at exorbitant interest rates to customers who need the money for living and sometimes medical expenses.
The largely unregulated companies have operated with less public scrutiny than the rest of the litigation finance industry, which provides money to law firms to fund commercial lawsuits.
Historically, settlement-advance businesses have targeted personal injury and medical malpractice plaintiffs, many of them referred by their lawyers. But in recent months, lawyers say, more pitches are directed at women with sexual harassment claims.
 For example, days after news broke of the Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s history of sexual harassment, LawCash, a settlement-advance company, was trying to cash in. “Sexual abuse is a crime #HarveyWeinstein,” read a LawCash tweet. The Brooklyn company offered cash upfront to sexual abuse plaintiffs “if you or someone you know is in need of financial help.”
Nice. Because if a buck can be made off it, it will be made off it, and the issue or seriousness of the movement itself becomes just another commodity.
The settlement-advance firms get paid back only if a plaintiff collects money from a lawsuit. They make money by charging interest rates as high as 100 percent, which they are able to do because technically the money is considered an advance — not a loan — and therefore is not subject to state usury laws.
For the past two decades, settlement-advance companies have been chasing the hottest — and most lucrative — trends in litigation. They have provided advances to victims of surgical vaginal mesh products; those suffering from ailments related to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks; and former National Football League players with brain injuries.
“There are some companies that are trying to ride that ‘me too’ thing, and we are not doing that,” said T. Thomas Colwell, chief executive of TriMark Legal Funding in Oregon. “That is just opportunistic.”
LOL. But not vaginal mesh products, or football players committing suicide because their brains have been destroyed by the game. That's just good old fashioned business sense.
Nova — the same company that advanced money to Ms. Rothermund — plans to announce that it will provide financing for lawyers pursuing Hollywood sexual harassment cases.
“We’re trying to level the playing field in cases against big Hollywood players,” said Ron Sinai, Nova’s founder.
What a joke. In today's over-heated, borderline McCarthy-era red scare environment re sexual harassment allegations, these clowns are going make serious, serious coin via moral panic. 

And the worse irony: an otherwise healthy social movement by women and about women, will be exploited and commodified by the sexist and patriarchal nature of all the all-male predatory lending industry.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Ringing The School Bell

With Gunfire:

On Tuesday, it was a high school in small-town Kentucky. On Monday, a school cafeteria outside Dallas and a charter school parking lot in New Orleans. And before that, a school bus in Iowa, a college campus in Southern California, a high school in Seattle.
Gunfire ringing out in American schools used to be rare, and shocking. Now it seems to happen all the time.
The scene in Benton, Ky., on Tuesday was the worst so far in 2018: Two 15-year-old students were killed and 18 more people were injured. But it was one of at least 11 shootings on school property recorded since Jan. 1, and roughly the 50th of the academic year.
And since most kids have only been back in school for about two weeks since the holidays, we're basically having a school shooting every other day now. 
“We have absolutely become numb to these kinds of shootings, and I think that will continue,” said Katherine W. Schweit, a former senior F.B.I. official and the co-author of a study of 160 active shooting incidents in the United States.
The F.B.I. study that Ms. Schweit helped write examined active shooter episodes in the United States between 2000 and 2013. It found that nearly one-quarter of them occurred in educational environments, and they were on the rise.
In the first half of the study period, federal officials counted 16 active shooter incidents in educational settings, meaning instances of a person “actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area.” In the second half, the number rose to 23. (Many, but not all, of the school shootings tallied by advocates so far this year meet that definition.)
“Any time there’s a school shooting, it’s more gut-wrenching, and I think we have a tendency to react in a more visceral way,” Ms. Schweit said in an interview on Tuesday. “But I really don’t think as a whole, in society, we’re taking shootings more seriously than we were before — and that’s wrong.”
Even so, jarred and fearful school administrators across the country have been placing greater emphasis on preparing for the possibility of an active shooter. According to a report issued by the Government Accountability Office in March 2016, 19 states were requiring individual schools to have plans for how to deal with an active shooter. Only 12 states required schools to conduct drills, but two-thirds of school districts reported that they had staged active shooter exercises.
Which is, pardon my french, the most f'd up thing I've ever heard. Rather than eliminating or tightening gun access around schools, we're putting kids through drills about what to do when an active shooter storms the gates (because that certainly doesn't contribute to their anxiety or anything in the least). 

It's a total abdication of societal responsibility...literally saying to the madmen, the gun nut lobbies, the 2A jerkoffs who push this garbage, and the gutless politicians who support it: "we surrender, we give up, you win."

The rise of these shootings, as I've pointed out time and again on this blog, and which has been shown in the data over and over, is a direct result of the "guns everywhere" legislation which has passed in more than 25 states in the last decade. Open-carry, campus-carry, concealed-carry...guns, guns, and more guns. Why? Because these dopes actually believe that if we have MORE guns, we'll be able to stop the "active shooters."
In Kentucky, lawmakers have grappled with how to address the risk of school shootings. Last year, state legislators considered, but did not pass, a bill that would have allowed people with concealed-carry permits to bring weapons on to public school campuses, where proponents argue they could be used to respond to active shooters. A similar bill, limited to college campuses and certain other government buildings, has been introduced this year. 
Part of that, of course, is Kentucky being Kentucky, but this kind of stupid thinking is everywhere in the U.S. today

It's tiring, frankly. You want to be outraged, you want things to change, you want someone to explain to these grieving parents, of sons and daughters who went to school that morning, like any other morning, why their child came home from school that afternoon in a body bag. But instead, like a lobotomized parrot bug-eyed on crack, the gun nuts squawk: "more guns, more guns, more guns."

You get the carnage you vote for, folks. And if you vote for politicians who support these relaxed laws, the blood is on your hands as well.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Should Lower Crime = Less Police?

The U.S. Has Lower Crime: Does That Mean Fewer Police?

With the close of the year, the tally was in: Crime was down in the 30 largest cities in the United States, and even a worrisome uptick in urban murders had subsided.
More than two decades of safer cities has cleared the way for major changes in the nation’s criminal justice system: fewer prisoners, shorter sentences and more pardons.
But fewer crimes have not resulted in fewer police officers on the streets.
In 2016, there were slightly more officers per capita than in 1991, when violent crime peaked, according to data collected by the F.B.I. Now, officers deal with half the crimes per capita that they did then.
But hardly anyone questions the size of police forces. Not taxpayers, who might expect the decades-long drop in crime to produce some budget savings. Not politicians, though they have a host of competing priorities, like schools and hospitals.
Interestingly, schools and hospitals will take funding cuts all the time, but police departments never do. Why? Part of it is the fear that crime will necessarily go up if we cut police departments. Logically that makes sense, though it has no basis in reality. 

Jeffrey Reiman hit on this in his book "The Rich Get Richer, And The Poor Get Prison" years ago: the police and crime have a dialectical relationship in that increases or decreases in crime are always used to justify more police. In other words, when crime goes down, we assume that's because we have the right amount of policing, and that if we really wanted to lower it further, we'd hire more police. And when crime goes up, we simply need more police. The criminal justice system feeds on itself and, oftentimes, feeds on failure.

So why is crime going down so dramatically (e.g. the lowest in Gotham since the 1950's)?
The factors driving the crime rate are complex, mysterious and can vary from city to city. Data-driven policing strategies, economic growth and decreased alcohol consumption were bigger contributors to the overall drop in crime than having more police or higher incarceration rates, said Inimai Chettiar, the director of the Brennan Center.
Last year, a study by three economists found that opening a new drug treatment center could save a city about $700,000 a year in crime-related costs. Another new study found that expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act caused a 5.8 percent reduction in violent crime.
But the old mentality of "git tuff" on crime is still politically successful. 
“American police officers are screaming, ‘Help us with mental health, with drug and alcohol addiction. Help us to stop using arrest to deal with these problems.’ ” Mr. Serpas said. “And then there are others who are screaming: ‘Crime is up. Help us arrest everyone again.’ ”
Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, for example, has warned that “violent crime is back with a vengeance” and advocated a more traditional law-and-order approach.
Like announcing last week that he was going back to war against marijuana, even in those states where it's now legal (six and counting). Which shows you both A. how out of touch with reality this administration actually is, and B. why it won. We have 65,000 people od'ing on opioids every year in the U.S. (and exactly 0 overdoses on weed), but it's weed we're going to war against because race. 
Black Lives Matter activists, who oppose police brutality and racial bias, have regularly called for redirecting money from the police to community intervention programs, which could deploy “community conflict de-escalators, gang intervention specialists, and mental health response centers” to deal with nonviolent situations.
There are few points of agreement between the Black Lives Matter movement and police unions, which maintain that officers are overworked and unfairly criticized. But they agree that the police should be better trained for the types of situations they are asked to handle. Employing fewer officers could free up money for better training, and perhaps also for higher pay.
After all, said Chuck Wexler, the executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, the police are called on to make life-or-death decisions. “I would rather have highly paid, highly identified, highly skilled police officers who can respond to these crises,” Mr. Wexler said. “I equate what the police do to an emergency room physician.”
Correct, but we don't need armies of physicians standing around the ER waiting for patients. Fewer will do. That's the point: the hyper-militarized era of policing should come to an end, and if it's simple economics that moves the needle, then so be it. 

But the politics of it make it still unlikely to happen.