Red Flag Laws Again

inside-the-asylum_730_auto_main

Fundamental problem of “Red Flag” laws: If a person is a “threat to self or others” because of mental health issues, then taking away their guns doesn’t make them not a threat to self or others. It simply removes (maybe—illegal avenues for obtaining firearms still abound) one method that could be used to do that harm.

Look, I could go to the local Walmart and walk out with the means to kill dozens to hundreds of people easily. The information on how to do it is trivially easy to find on the Internet or a public library or, hell, a good encyclopedia.

Three methods that are so obvious that I’m not worried about “inspiring” someone (don’t try this at home, kiddies) by mentioning them: fire, explosives, and poison.

If a person is “a threat to self or others” then taking their guns away does not stop the threat. You have to deal with the person and the person’s issues. If you do that, stop the person as a threat, then the guns become a non-issue. If you don’t, then the guns are also a non-issue because there are just too many alternatives available to a person who is a threat to self and others.

Look at the list of the deadliest massacres in the US. Even if we exclude those committed by government, you find plenty where guns weren’t used. The deadliest slaughter in the US involved a handful of terrorists using box cutters, which they used to gain control of airplanes, which they then used do destroy the twin towers. Number two used fertilizer, fuel oil, and a rental truck. Gasoline spread at the base of a stairwell and the only access to a social club was used to kill more people than any non-government mass shooting in US history—multiple exits won’t prevent such a deliberate slaughter; it would just be more work.

You have to deal with the person. Everything else is a distraction. Deal with the person and the rest won’t matter. Fail to deal with the person…and the rest won’t matter.

So
1) Make help more readily available to those who need it.
2) Remove, or at least dramatically reduce the concern that getting help will lead to permanent loss of fundamental rights like RKBA. This fear only serves to cause people to avoid getting help when they need it.
3) When people won’t get help on their own, that’s what due process is for. Use it.
2-3a) I’ll note that a person who comes in to get help of his own free will, or with only mild “nudging” can generally be expected to cooperate with treatment and identify relapses calling for a return to treatment. Benefit of the doubt should be extended to those people to be able to use their own judgement about whether they are safe around arms or not. Let them keep their rights (or recover it once they’re well into recovery from their problems). If people have to be forced by court order to go into treatment for severe mental problems that make them a threat to self and others, well, that’s a pretty good indicator of how they will behave in the future as well, n’est pas?
4) When a person is in treatment, they need to be very closely monitored. Look, mental health can be a complicated issue and the treatment that’s perfect for one person can make three others worse. One needs to keep close watch while finding the right combination of treatments—which can include medications, counseling, and other things—to make sure you’re not making the issue worse, or simply temporarily masking it. Just writing a prescription and then leaving it can end up increasing, rather than decreasing, the “threat to self and others.”

Anyway, that’s my suggestion. Note that abandoning due process to deprive people of liberty and property (to say nothing of life) is no part of it.

Advertisements

Once Again, People are Talking About Violent Crime

 

In a recent post, among other things, I pointed out that violent crime rates had actually fallen dramatically since the early 90’s.  I got called “delusional” for my pains.  So, here are the facts.

Politifact, a group that claims to be a non-partisan fact checking organization but has repeatedly demonstrated a strong left wing bias. Has kindly compiled the following from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports (I cite them here since no-one can realistically claim a right-wing bias):

violent crime rates

You will note that the numbers peaked around 1992-1993 and have fallen since.  Thre was a slight “bubble” around 2005 to 2007 after which it fell again and plateaued at just under 400 per 100,000, a rate not seen since 1971.

Some will look and say “Ah hah! The chart stops at 2019 on an upward trend.  Surely crime has skyrocketed since then!”

Well, actually, no.  Going directly to the FBI’s own report and compiling the numbers from 1998 to the present (which, incidentally, serves as a check on that portion of the above graph), we get:

recent crime rates

Yes, there was a slight “bump” in 2015 and 2016, but the violent crime rate fell again in 2017.  The FBI has a preliminary report for 2018 which shows that violent crime has fallen an additional 4.2 percent, so from 382.9 per 100,000 to 366.8 per 100,000, or some 50,000 fewer violent crimes than in 2016.

So, contrary to media portrayals, violent crime is not on the rise.  Nor is murder itself on the rise (the rate fell 6.7% in 2018 from 5.3 per 100,000 to about 4.9 per 100,000).  But, boy, you wouldn’t know that to listen to the news or to certain political pundits.

I have claimed that this fall in violent crime rate was occurring at a time when more people were permitted to carry more guns in more places than ever before.  Doubt that?  Check out this video:

That’s just the passage of “shall issue” or the blanket removal of licensing requirements (often called “Constitutional Carry”).  It does not include things like Indiana passing laws reducing the number of places where licensed individuals can carry:  forbidding businesses from having a “no guns in locked cars” policy (they can forbid people from bringing guns into the business itself but cannot stop them from being armed going to and from work), permitting licensed individuals to leave guns out of sight in locked cars in school parking lots, forbidding cities, counties, and townships from prohibiting guns on most public property, and so on.  Other states have similarly reduced restrictions on where people can carry–Utah and Texas, for instance, permitting carry on college campuses, several states removing restrictions on carry in places of worship, and so on.

Now, one might dispute that the increased ability of citizens to carry caused the decrease in violent crime, what cannot be disputed is that the increased ability to carry most certainly did not cause an increase.  Indeed, for the folk supporting gun control, that the restrictions on people being permitted to carry and the actual rates of violent crime have gone in opposite directions demonstrates conclusively that, at best, giving them every benefit of every doubt (something they are not willing to grant me and those like me), other factors are far, far more important than such restrictions.

In the absolute best case, from the folk promoting gun control as a means of crime control, focusing on gun control is a distraction from dealing with real issues that affect the rates of violent crime.

The “rank and file” individual, I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt on this issue.  They have been told things which are untrue and for whatever reason have not dug deeply into the factual basis (or lack thereof) of those things.  After all, there are only so many hours in the day and they can’t investigate everything that crosses their paths. (However, when they won’t listen when the factual basis is brought to their attention?  Well, that’s on them.)

The folk of the political class, however?  They get no such benefit of the doubt.  The folk in leadership positions in various anti-gun groups, media pundits, politicians–especially politicians–are only ignorant of the reality if they deliberately choose to be (call it “reckless disregard for the truth”).

They have their own reasons for wanting to disarm the American people and it’s not reducing crime.

 

 

Getting in Shape

I would say getting back in shape but, really, I never was in what I would consider good shape.  Closest I ever game was late eighties when I got serious about bicycling but for various reasons that didn’t last.

I have heard it said that nothing is more boring than someone else’s diet or someone else’s exercise program.  On the other hand, I’ve also heard people getting motivation form other people’s progress.  So, for the former, skip it if you gotta.  The latter?  This is for you.

The biggest problem I’ve always had was a combination of trying too much, too quickly, and the related one of setting unrealistic goals. (Hey, I grew up wanting to be a superhero, which is pretty much the definition of unrealistic goals.)

So, when I decided I needed to do something about the encroaching years and try to actually get in something resembling some sort of shape I wanted to start gradually, have a modest but chartable progression (it’s easier to stay motivated if I can actually point to measureable progress).

Modest, but continuous progress is nothing to sneeze at. (Just ask the famous tortoise.) Back when I was in Judo one of the parents of a younger student said “If you start with just one pushup a day, add one each week, at the end of a year you’re doing more than fifty.”  And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.  Oh, I didn’t start with one pushup.  I was a couple of months into the year when I started the program but I took the number of weeks we were in (my calendar app numbers the weeks) and used that as my starting point.  I have religiously added one each week so, as of today, I’m doing 34 every day. (As a point of comparison, that’s enough for a 37 year old to pass the push-up portion of the Army’s physical fitness test, just as a point of comparison.)

I’ve added other exercises to the program as I’ve gone along.  One is a special kind of half-squat that I do specifically to help with ice skating.  In ice skating class the instructor explained that you want to keep ankles, hips, and shoulders all in a line.  When a person normally bends their knees, they tend to push their hips back and lean forward with their upper body.  That is to be avoided on the ice as the weight shift does bad things to your balance and where your weight is centered on the blades.

So, what I do is stand with my back just brushing against a wall–not leaning against it, just barely in contact.  I then bend my knees lowering my body and just barely keeping my back touching the wall.  I can’t go down very deep with those squats because my ankles will only flex so far and I need to keep feet flat on the floor (again, I’m working on ice skating posture with this).  Then slowly back up.  Again, one for each week of the year.  34 this week.

I have added in a couple of “core” exercises on the same one for each week of the year principle.  I finish with a couple of stretches.  Nothing fancy, just some mild stretches of the major muscle groups with particular attention paid to my waist and hamstrings.

So far it’s been working.  My energy levels are up.  I used to actually have difficulty putting on my skates because bending to tighten them compressed my stomach enough that I couldn’t breathe.  Not a problem now.  It may not seem like much but it’s progress to me.  And I’ve been keeping the full routine up for four months now.

Add in that I’ve been watching my diet.  Very low carb to make it easier to keep my diabetes under control. (I don’t really call it “keto” because some of the things involved in that I don’t worry about, just keep net carbs down.) I keep a complete food diary where I mark down not just what I eat but how much and the fat, carbs, and protein in it so I know, really know, how much is going into my system.  No fooling myself about how much I’m eating.  Simply having to think about it, so I can record it, helps prevent “cheating”.

The result is that I’ve lost about 30-40 lbs since I started getting serious (about the same time I started ice skating).    And I can go half an hour or more on the ice before having to take a break where before, once around the rink (or even only halfway around) and my feet hurt too much to continue without a break.

So, fingers crossed, things are getting better on the health and fitness front.

“If You Think That Then…”

In the past I have addressed the idea of “if you don’t like it, then move…” For many people there are endless options of the government they claim to want.  For those of us who want to live under a Constitutional Republic honoring individual liberty with the rights of those individuals held sacrosanct there’s no place to go.

Still, when you suggest that someone should pull up stakes and move to a country more in line with their own claimed desires they get offended.  Okay, fair enough.

However, we also have this.  We have Ilhan Omar, an immigrant congresswoman, claiming that living in an “ugly” America is an “Everyday assault” and that this ugliness is “ingrained in America.”

Okay then, Omar, why did you come here?  This is more than just “if you don’t like it, leave.” You chose to come here.  There are 195 countries in the world.  One hundred ninety-four of them aren’t the United States.  Surely there were other options.  You came here.

Further, available evidence is that you married your own biological brother in an effort to allow him to come here as well.  While you might have had the excuse of not knowing what America was like before coming here, why you would do something like that after obtaining citizenship in the US?  Do you hate your brother so much that you wanted to inflict such a hateful place on him?

So why?  Why come here?   Why make the effort to bring your brother here?  Why, of your own free will, come to such a terrible place?  It’s not like you didn’t have other options.  Your brother, after all, was in the UK, not the US.  Surely the UK would have been an option for you as well and a much better choice than the US given your detestation of the US.  So why didn’t you go there instead?

I mean, I can think of reasons.  None of them speak well of you or your intentions, but I can think of them.  So, help me out here.  Why?  What possible good reason did you have to come, of your own free will, to a place that you detest so?

Why?

 

Feeding the Active Writer: Low Carb Shepherd’s Pie

This is something I knocked together as a low carb one-dish meal.  Strictly speaking, “shepherd’s pie” should use lamb or mutton but as those are rather expensive for folk who don’t actually raise sheep, and have culls to provide meat, we use beef here.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef (the cheap kind 73% lean 27% fat)
  • 3/4 cup chopped onions
  • 2 cup (1 can) beef broth
  • 1 cup cut green beans
  • 1 tbsp thyme
  • 1 tbsp crushed rosemary
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • about 1 tbsp xantham gum
  • 6 cups riced cauliflower
  • 4 eggs large
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175C).

In a large saucepan brown the ground beef over medium heat.  Do not drain.  Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are transparent.   Add the next five ingredients and bring to a boil.  Stir in the xantham gum.  Let simmer for 3-5 minutes to thicken and combine flavors.

While the meat sauce is simmering, combine the cauliflower, eggs an mozzarella in a large mixing bowl.  Mix well.

Transfer the meat sauce to a two quart casserole dish.  Cover with the cauliflower mixture.

Bake at 350F (175C) for 25-30 minutes.

Remove from oven.  Let sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.  Serves 6.

About 32 g fat, 6 grams net carbs, and 23 grams protein per serving.  About 400 calories.

 

Guess What? More Ice Follies.

Yes, I’ve been continuing to make progress so there’s stuff to talk about.

In class we’ve been somewhere between “Basic 3” and “Basic 4” in the “Learn to Skate USA” skill level progression.  When I looked at the “official” curriculum, I noticed that we were doing a number of Level 4 items (Forward outside edges, forward inside edges, forward crossovers) when I hadn’t learned most of the Level 3 stuff.  Now that’s entirely doable.  In many cases it’s not a strict progression–after all, back when I was a kid I was doing forward crossovers and edges (I cannot emphasize enough, it’s not like riding a bike) without having learned to skate backward at all.

At Level three the only things I could have said to have learned at an appropriate level for where I’m at (which is a long way short of “mastering”) were forward half-swizzle pumps on a circle and forward stroking showing correct use of the blade.

So, I decided I needed to go in and fill out the Basic 3 stuff so the lack wouldn’t come back to bite me later.

First thing I started on was “Slaloms”.  The class where that was being introduced to my daughter and me was one where I took a bad fall, landed with my right curled up under me so my full weight came down on my ankle.  Yeah.  I was done that for that day, that week, and the next week as well.

So, during “public skate” I went to one end of the rink and tried slaloms.  Properly done, they look like this:

I surprised myself by actually managing it.  I was, of course, much clumsier and far less graceful than the young lady in the video but I did manage it.

The remaining techniques that I needed all involved backward skating (backward one foot glides, backward snowplow stop, and two foot turn on a circle forward to backward).  I’m able to do it, but not very well.  I start to feel like I’m going to overbalance backward, overcompensate, and end up dragging the toe picks (those “teeth” at the front of figure skating blades) which brings me to a grinding halt.  The trick is to keep my weight right over the center of the blades.  And I think mostly that takes practice.

There are two techniques that I have been learning for going backwards.  The first is a “backward swizzle”.  Done right, it looks like this:

Again, I’m nowhere near as graceful as the young lady.  I get there, albeit with many a grinding halt from dragging the toe picks.  Also, I have trouble with the “bending the knees” portion of that.  Strong like willow.  Limber like oak.  But, working on that with off ice exercises.

The other method of moving backward I’ve been learning is the “backward wiggle.”  Once again, done properly it looks something like this:

And, once again, I’m nowhere near as graceful as that young lady.  I use more separation between my feet, which gives me more “push” as I go back and forth.  If I can learn to stay off the toe picks I’ll be doing this pretty well.

So what I’ve been doing at public skate is just going to one end of the rink or the other.  There’s a red line across the end (part of the hockey markings) that I use as a guide.  I do slaloms across, then do one of the backward techniques back.  Back and forth, just practicing those techniques.  I’ve gotten pretty good at the slaloms just over the one weekend but the backward’s techniques?  Let’s just say that they need work.

Occasionally, however, I’ll actually get a bit of momentum going backward, manage to avoid getting on the toe picks, and I’ll try lifting one foot for a backward one foot glide.

It should look like this:

Let’s just say it doesn’t.  My best, so far, is about 1 second.

So, practice, practice practice.

We’ll get there.