Friday, September 26, 2014

John Oliver on the Miss America Pageant

"The largest scholarship pageant in the world for women." Well, maybe. But as John Oliver demonstrates, most of that is nothing but hype.

Right-wing heads explode,... again

It's the last half of this video clip I really wanted to post. Yeah, Republicans are all about respect, aren't they? Why hasn't Fox 'News' been laughed off the airwaves by now?

Jon Stewart got it exactly right: "When Bush took us to war, any criticism was shouted down as treasonous. But when a president you don't like has the country poised on the same precipice, no transgression, no matter how immaterial and ridiculous, is too small to cite as evidence that this president isn't as American as you are."

This is about politics and - dare I say it? - race. Of course President Obama isn't as white American as they are. I mean, just look at him!

Eric Holder has the same problem Barack Obama does. His skin is the wrong color for these people, especially since he's a Democrat.

Think I'm exaggerating? Here's Fox 'News' claiming that Holder runs the Justice Department like the Black Panthers:
Fox News host Andrea Tantaros said Thursday during a discussion about Attorney General Eric Holder's reported resignation that he ran the Department of Justice "much like the Black Panthers would." ...

"He didn't enforce the laws on Obamacare," Tantaros said. "He was droning terrorists without a trial while he was giving them trials in downtown Manhattan. He ran the DOJ much like the Black Panthers would. That is a fact."

Yeah, that was certainly tailor-made for their elderly white viewers, huh?

And the Cato Institute compared Eric Holder to segregationist George Wallace!
In the column, senior fellow Ilya Shapiro said that Holder had the "most divisive tenure of any attorney general I can recall, tearing the country apart on racial and partisan lines," according to a cached version of the piece.

After arguing that Holder was the worst attorney general ever, Shapiro jumped into the George Wallace comparison.

"Like a modern-day George Wallace, Holder has called for racial preference now, racial preferences tomorrow, racial preferences forever," he wrote.

As ThinkProgress noted, this was likely a reference to Wallace's inaugural address as governor of Alabama in which he used the phrase "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever."

Shapiro said that Holder only worked to protect minority groups.

"According to our outgoing attorney general, and the 14th Amendment, Civil Rights Act, and Voting Rights Act only protect some citizens (members of the right kinds of racial minority groups) – and should be used to extract political and financial concessions for them," he wrote.

Oh, we poor white men, so beaten down by the powerful black establishment. These days, you can't even shoot an unarmed black teenager without getting lynched. ("Lynching" does mean "being criticized," right?)

Yeah, it's Holder who's been tearing the country apart ever since the election of our first black president. Of course, these right-wing loons would never dream of 'playing the race card,' would they? Why, the whole idea just gives them the vapors.

And these are the crazies Americans plan to let take control of the U.S. Senate (either through voting for them or through inaction)? Even crazier, polls show they're favored when it comes to foreign policy issues! The same people who got us into all of these messes in the first place? The people who haven't been right about anything in decades?

Sometimes, I really have to despair for my country.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Charles Krauthammer's mental state

Say what you will about Barack Obama, the fact that he's got enemies like this is pretty impressive, don't you think? All I'd really have to know about Obama is who hates him.

Does that let him off the hook? I don't think so. I still criticize people I support. After all, I'm not going to agree with anyone about everything. (Why would I ever expect otherwise? So we disagree about some things. Big deal. If I required a politician to agree with me about everything, I'd have to run for office myself.)

But show me a politician Charles Krauthammer hates, show me a politician Rush Limbaugh hates, show me a politician Fox 'News' hates, and I'll have to think that's a politician I could support. And the more hysterical they get, the better.

These people make Barack Obama look good.

The one place science isn't accepted

Jebus help us, these are supposed to be our elected leaders!

These Republicans on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology don't even have a fifth-grade understanding of science! (Of course, they're also being paid off by the oil industry. But they're not being paid to look dumb. That's all natural.)

Frankly, "pushing a million pounds of idiot up a mountain" would be easy compared to educating these guys. But, as I say, they're being paid to remain willfully ignorant. (Yup, best government money can buy, huh?)

Keep in mind that Republicans control the House of Representatives despite receiving more than a million fewer votes than their Democratic opponents in the last election. They've stayed in control of the House only because Republican politicians gerrymandered House districts so they can remain in power as a minority party.

And now, there's a very good chance they'll take the Senate, too. Yeah, many Americans are actually stupid enough to vote for these guys (and even more are too stupid or too lazy to bother voting at all).  Depressing, isn't it?

It's not inevitable, though. We can still vote. No matter how much money they get from oil companies, no matter how much they spend to buy elections, they still have to get votes. It is pure laziness to give up. It is pure laziness to say that your vote doesn't matter. It's pure laziness to say that, well, 'both parties are the same.'

The really depressing thing is that only a minority of Americans will bother voting at all. Yeah, they've all got an excuse. But this is how we get idiots in Congress. Their supporters might be stupid, but they're smart enough to vote.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Militarizing... public schools?

Yeah, it's not just police forces we're militarizing, but school districts, too! But of course every school district needs a grenade launcher. Just think of how useful that would be!

Again, this is the military-industrial complex that President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us about. Defense contractors don't have to stick with pushing weapons to our, and other country's, militaries. Sure, we spend more money on our military than the rest of the world combined, but it's never enough.

So now, they've got our military distributing gear to police departments and public schools, too - thus wasting even more money requiring even bigger purchases and even bigger bonuses for defense industry lobbyists and contractors.

Well, thanks to Republicans on our Supreme Court, we've already sold our country to the highest bidder. So what else did you expect?

PS. And yeah, speaking of the Supreme Court, it's not just Citizens United, either. We're starting to see problems from their incredibly inane Hobby Lobby decision now, too:
A federal judge in Utah has ruled that a member of a fundamentalist offshoot of the Mormon faith may refuse to answer questions in a child labor investigation as a result of the Hobby Lobby ruling on birth control. ...

Erwin Chemerinsky, the Dean of UC-Irvine School of Law, said Sam's decision reveals the pitfalls of Hobby Lobby, calling it "stunning" and contrary to precedent for a judge to use RFRA to let a person get out of testifying.

"I think it is quite predictable that the court's decision in Hobby Lobby would open the door to such claims of an exemption from laws for religious reasons," he said. "I fear it is just the start of cases of people claiming religious exemptions from general laws."

Adam Winkler, a law professor at UCLA, said the ruling shows how "Hobby Lobby threatens to make religious believers a law unto themselves."

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

John Oliver discusses student debt

Student debt in America is bigger than credit card debt and auto loans. Incredible, isn't it (especially when education is free in some countries, our economic competitors)?

Yet student debt differs from other debt in that you can't get out from under it even through bankruptcy. Funny, isn't it (especially since it's guaranteed by the U.S. government, anyway)?

Actually, it's not funny at all. It's a travesty. As we've decided we don't want to pay taxes for anything but prisons and the military, college costs have shot through the roof. But instead of helping students get an education, we're helping banks and other financial institutions take advantage of them, so the rich can get even richer.

And we're helping for-profit colleges take advantage of them, too (and of us, don't forget - this debt, again, is guaranteed by the government).

I know I say this every time I post a video by John Oliver, but he does a great job, doesn't he? I might note that he spends enough time to really get at the key points. And he's very entertaining while he does it, too.

Nightmare on Graham Street

"This president needs to rise to the occasion before we all get killed back here at home."

Heh, heh. Why hasn't Lindsey Graham - and others like him - been laughed out of politics by now? How could it be any more clear that he's pushing irrational fear simply for his own political advantage?

Remember, we over-reacted badly after the 9/11 attacks, causing us to invade two countries, one of them having nothing at all to do with the attacks. (Saddam Hussein had never attacked us and was no threat to America whatsoever. Yet remember the "smoking gun/mushroom cloud" rhetoric used by the Bush White House to push fear?)

And we're still struggling to extricate ourselves from the quagmire that's Afghanistan. All for nothing, too. George W. Bush never did get Osama bin Laden - you know, the guy who actually did attack us - and by the end of his presidency, he'd even stopped trying. (It took Barack Obama to show us how we should have gone after bin Laden in the first place.)

Heck, we even allowed our hysterical fear - or the Bush Administration desire for political cover, take your pick - to cause us to torture prisoners of war. Isn't that more than enough over-reaction for this century, already?

Note that you can't stop every determined terrorist. That's just impossible. It doesn't require a brilliant plan, but just the will to do harm. Yet we've seen very little of that in America since 9/11. Doesn't that also seem to indicate that our fears were overblown?

Heck, when it comes to terrorism in America, we've had a bigger problem with right-wing Christians than with Muslims since then, at least until the Boston Marathon bombing (which definitely was a horrific event, even if only three people died).

But terrorism - which is inevitably a sign of weakness, not strength - is designed to instill fear, and it works best on cowards. When our own politicians and news media aren't just cowards, but are actually eager to push that fear themselves, for their own purposes, it's literally helping the enemy.

How did America get through two World Wars if we were this cowardly? How did we get through the Great Depression? How did we get through the Cold War? We had real fears back then, but we faced them bravely. How can a ragged band of religious nuts overseas cause us to panic now - even when politicians are pushing panic for their own selfish reasons?

When will the rest of us say enough is enough? When will be start reacting with laughter, instead of fear? ISIS has been doing some terrible things (overseas, not here), and that's not funny. But the fear-mongering we're seeing from Lindsey Graham and John McCain, among others, deserves nothing but our ridicule.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Scary black men

This is all too common. If you're going to make up a story about being attacked by scary men, of course they're going to be black.

I remember reading about an attempted attack on a hiker/biker trail, here in Lincoln, Nebraska, a few years ago. A big, scary black man jumped out at a young (white) woman on the trail, but luckily, she was able to escape.

The retraction a few days later got much less attention. I saw it buried on an inside page of the newspaper, just a brief note that the woman had invented the whole story, apparently for attention. I'm sure that relatively few people saw the retraction, given how little attention the news media paid to that, compared to the original - much more exciting - claim.

But when this woman decided to make up a story - for whatever reason - of course the scary man was going to be black. Isn't that what you'd expect? I'd have been shocked if her imaginary assailant hadn't been black.

Naturally, this feeds into the preconceptions of the overwhelmingly white population here - a population fed on a steady diet of fear by Fox 'News' and other right-wing Republican propaganda mills.

And no doubt the police stopped and questioned any black men in the area. ("Black man" probably tends to be a distinct enough description in most Nebraska neighborhoods to narrow down the list of "suspects" to a manageable number.)

This is racism. But the people inventing such stories probably don't actually intend to be racist. This is just how they see the world. All too often, such stories are believed because that's how the people hearing them see the world, too. (In both cases, my complements to the police who checked out these claims and determined the truth.)

Racism is still common in America. We've come a long way, true. Let's not forget the very real progress we've made. But we still have a long way to go.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Geshud Cabnul, the Fortress of Fools

Our arrival in the Hills of Singing [Spacefox graphics pack]

Note: I'm playing Dwarf Fortress 2014, the recent release (version 0.40.10, right now), in fortress mode. Please look elsewhere for information about this game. This is just the story - rather uneventful, so far - of the first year of The Fortress of Fools.

We call ourselves Nabotad Udril - "Two-Hands of Oxen" - but they call us fools for our appreciation of 'undwarven' architecture. Not for us burrowing underground like frightened moles. We think we dwarves should stake our claim to the surface world, too. So we pledged to do so.

Of course, there might also be some petty sexism involved, since we were six females - 'Doc,' 'Bibs,' 'Archie,' 'Cogs,' 'Cookie,' and 'Poindexter' - while our leader, Urdim 'Boss' Steelpracticed was male. [I'm using nicknames in an attempt to remember who does what.] Let them sneer. We'll show them!

We're not much different in appearance from anyone else in the Helpful Fair Chamber. We're a small, thin people - scrawny even, for dwarves - with auburn hair. Of the females in our group, only 'Cookie' has plumped up to any real extent - from sampling her own cooking, no doubt.

Our boss carries some extra weight, too, which gives him rather a distinguished look - sleek and self-satisfied. He's a miner by trade, but that shouldn't surprise you. We did plan to mine, of course. That's what dwarves do. We just intend to live on the surface, as much as possible.

So we headed to the Hills of Singing to stake our claim. It was still very early spring - the 15th of Granite, 250 - when we arrived, but it was already rather warm in this latitude. The area was tropical woodland, not quite a jungle (a bit too dry for that), and we chose a low bluff overlooking a pool at the intersection of two small rivers.

[The river to the east is at a higher elevation, so there's a short waterfall where it pours into the pool below. Note that, thanks to the weird fluid dynamics of Dwarf Fortress, this means there's an increased risk of flooding my fortress, if I'm not careful, since water taken from the river will naturally rise to the level of the upper river.]

There were hippos in the river, and alligators, and carp, so we planned to stay above the river and avoid the shore. [Carp are notorious dwarf-killers in Dwarf Fortress - or they always used to be, at least. Let a dwarf get near the river, and carp would rip him to pieces.] As time went on, we spotted rhinoceros, giraffes, and lions, as well.

The palisade was completed by summer.

So we immediately went to work building a wooden stockade around our small settlement. Wood is not the most secure building material, but it was readily available, and - absent dragons - it would probably do.

Our priority was to wall off the cliff, to keep our people from slipping off the edge and becoming carp food, and somewhat to our surprise, we accomplished that with no fatalities. We put bridges over the river, to the northeast and the south, and another bridge over a moat at the north end of our camp. Then we worked to extend the palisade to the west, as well.

We'd almost completed that, leaving only a couple of openings where we could cut timber, when a bull rhinoceros wandered into camp. Our war dog (we'd stationed one war dog at each of four openings in the stockade) took one look at the huge, bad-tempered beast and ran off in terror.

To our great good fortune, we had no one working nearby. So the rhino calmed down after awhile, browsed a bit, then went back to join the rest of his crash. [Yes, a group of rhinos is apparently called a 'crash'.]

We'd dodged a bolt, but we probably wouldn't be that lucky a second time. So we quickly walled up both openings to the west, abandoning the lumber we'd already cut there. (The dog made it back safely, too.)

By late spring, we were needing stone, so 'Boss' dug down from the center of camp. The surface layer was quite sandy, but there was claystone below that - with considerable iron and coal deposits - and marble deeper down. We'd chosen our location well, apparently.

Nine or ten levels below ground, we broke through into an extensive cavern system. But we weren't nearly ready for that, so we walled up the opening and started mining the claystone and marble. (We thought a marble road would look sharp, and it would do well for the more opulent parts of our castle, too, while the claystone would suffice for our walls and fortifications.)

Initial stonework [shown via the Stonesense utility]

In mid-summer, seven immigrants arrived, doubling out population. (None had any useful skills, but what do you expect in a brand-new settlement like ours?) Specifically, they were two couples, each with one young daughter, plus one older woman on her own. We were now up to 11 females and 3 males.

We welcomed both families, though the children were a bit of a burden. But the lone woman was rather worrisome, since she was a stranger to everyone. (We do have to fear vampires, after all.) However, she seems to have fit right in.

In early autumn, a caravan arrived from home - well, from the Helpful Fair Chamber, I mean. (This is our home, now.) It didn't bring much that we needed, but then, we didn't have much to trade, anyway - just some gourmet meals, packed to store well, which 'Cookie' had created. (Admittedly, she is a fine cook, so those meals sold well.)

In return, we picked up another anvil, a couple of water buffalo cows (just because they were available), some leather and some raw foodstuff. Mostly, we wanted to encourage further trade, so we didn't bargain very hard. I think they left happy (and impressed with our trading setup).

Our paved roads dip underground at the trade depot.

(Thanks to our hard work, we had a paved road - marble - coming into our camp from the north and from the south. From both directions, the road dipped underground when it got close, with the trade depot itself built into the first rock layer below the surface. It was a nice layout, we thought.)

After the caravan left, more immigrants arrived - eight, all adults, evenly split as to gender. There were lions in the area when they arrived, which could have been disastrous, but they scooted past safely, if just barely.

Again, most of those people were unskilled, but Ezum 'Digger' Sternchannels was a competent miner and Avuz 'Greenjeans' Splashwhips was a pretty decent farmer - both quite useful to us.

Risen Hairypaged said he had experience with wax-working, of all things, but upon further conversation, it turned out that 'Sarge' was also a highly experienced swordsdwarf. We're certainly going to need a military, eventually, though we put him to work hauling stone until then.

Winter was little different from the rest of the year. We're going to miss the seasons, I think, but the good weather meant that we could keep working nearly every day. We've still barely begun, but we're proud of how our 'Fortress of Fools' is coming along.

Starting to build upwards. (Note the wooden henhouse - blue peafowl, not chickens - at the top, farm plots to the left, and pastures to the right. The main building does extend below ground, mostly through necessity, at first.)

We still don't have any real defenses - just a few cage traps (which did catch us a giraffe, just before the year ended). But we can raise bridges to keep enemies out, if necessary - well, unless they can fly or climb well, at least.

Our war dogs have been useless - they ran in fear from the giraffe, too [Edit: I was wrong about this. After finding rhinoceros blood in our camp, I checked the combat logs. Our dogs did fight the rhinos and the giraffe, at least for awhile.] - but they'll do better against goblin or kobold thieves, I'm sure. [This is part of the new morale system in Dwarf Fortress. We can no longer expect dogs to sacrifice themselves for their dwarven masters, apparently.]

It's spring again now - we've been here a year, already - and so far, so good. But we have a lot to do yet. And pretty soon, we're going to need to take some dwarves off building, so they can start training as soldiers. Well, maybe we can get some more immigrants this year.

Yeah, uneventful, as I warned from the start (and as is usually the case in the first year of a new fortress). However, I did want to document our construction progress. The wooden stockade encloses the entire hill, or nearly so, with bridges which can be raised to prevent most enemies from entering at all.

Of course, we need to let trade caravans in. So there's a stone wall in between the paved road and the rest of the fortress, with more bridges which can be raised to block off the road and the trade depot, if necessary.

My original design for our castle wasn't large enough, so I've started extending that to the north. But the lower floor is for the cook, the butcher, the brewer, the miller, and others who need close access to farms and pastures.

The raw materials for these professions are stored one level down, underground. Prepared meals and barrels of booze will eventually be stored one floor up, just below the dining area.

First level underground, with farms (certain crops grow only underground) and temporary bedrooms. Near the river is a room with two wells (not very fancy yet). The trade depot is one level further down.

Eventually, we'll have bedrooms above that. We'll also have towers and other fortifications for our marksdwarves (crossbow-wielding soldiers).

Mines are underground, of course, and that's where most of our crafts will be produced, close to their raw materials and close to the trade depot. (Admittedly, most of our trading will probably continue to be of prepared meals.)

Note: You can find all of my posts about this and other games here. As you can see, I rarely ever finish a game. But I plan to tell the story of this fortress until... I don't. :) Well, as long as I keep playing it, I'll probably keep posting about it. (No guarantees, but with any luck, this will get more exciting later.)

Friday, September 5, 2014

30 years of injustice

This is why I don't support capital punishment.

I have zero sympathy for violent criminals. I'd execute them myself, no problem. Yeah, I don't care about your hard life. Some things, you shouldn't get a second chance.

But we're not infallible, and we're never going to be infallible. Sometimes, we convict innocent people. We know we've executed innocent people before - not many, I hope, but it's happened. Certainly, there have been many cases like this, where innocent people spent decades in prison for something they didn't do.

That's a real tragedy, but how much worse would it be if we had killed them? These guys were on death row! Assholes like Antonin Scalia don't care about that. The entire Republican Party doesn't care about that. But I do.

Your bloodlust is simply not worth the fact that we'd end up killing innocent people, sometimes. And it is just bloodlust. There is no other reason for capital punishment. (It's not a deterrent.) Right-wingers just love the idea of punishing people. Well, that's why they invented Hell, too.

So if you believe in Hell, what's the problem? What's executing someone, next to an eternity of torture. Of course, that assumes that you really do believe in your religious fantasies, huh? Do you actually believe what you claim to believe?

No country for little kids

Could these people be any more mean-spirited, idiotic, and downright... insane? Not to mention bigoted, of course.

We're being "invaded." By child refugees. Thousands of them (which, in a nation of three hundred and fifteen million people, is a drop in the bucket).

Of course, they're brown children, which is what makes them scary, right?

Luckily, we've got these heavily armed lunatics keeping us safe:

Actually, this might not have been a mistake. These right-wingers seem to hate scientists almost as much as they hate Hispanics.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

PMS and the science of making shit up

I like how Rebecca Watson does these videos. She has a real knack for pointing out stupidity, doesn't she? (Though the real stupidity is the mainstream media taking these brain farts seriously.)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Minecraft 1.8 tutorial - how to survive your first night

I thought I'd post this, since Minecraft version 1.8 has just been released. I haven't played this version yet, but the very beginning hasn't changed much since I first blogged about the game here. (This video isn't much different from the one I posted then, either.)

If you've never played the game, this video will get you started. He plans to continue the tutorial series, too, or you can just check the wiki whenever you've got a question.

Note that, if you do want to follow this tutorial, you can enter 2905400373399475580 as the world seed, and you'll start in the same world in the same place. Or you can leave it blank and create a random world (as he did when he created that world).

Minecraft is a great game. I haven't played it in two and a half years, I guess, so I'm really tempted to give it a go again. But right now, I've just started a new fort in Dwarf Fortress, so this is going to have to wait.

Note: Check out my posts about this, and other computer games, here.

How to ruin a protest

You do know your Bible, don't you? Or are you a Christian? :)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Bullets and Burgers

It's such a tragedy - for this little girl, as much as for the man who was killed - and it's just completely nuts, isn't it?

Bullets and Burgers - just a fun little vacation stop, where your children can play with military-grade weaponry. What could possibly go wrong?

We've gone completely batshit crazy over guns here in America, and there are two nearly-contradictory parts to that. The first is that everyone needs to carry a gun at all times so you can fight off the 'bad guys' - or the government, or the UN black helicopters, or whatever.

It's fear-mongering to the extreme, where cowards are made to feel that they and their families are under threat every minute of every day. The police can't be everywhere, and if you can't put your hand on a gun instantly, at a moment's notice, you're dead meat.

But the other part to this, the other NRA-backed meme, is that guns are perfectly harmless. Heck, guns don't kill people, don't you know? Only people kill people.

Every time an unarmed black kid is shot to death, we hear the same thing, that fists are dangerous. Yeah, Trayvon Martin was minding his own business, when a gun-wielding vigilante accosted him for 'walking while black.' But when Martin fought back, that was all the excuse needed to (legally) shoot him dead.

But guns, well, they're not dangerous at all. Why worry about idiots bringing assault rifles to your restaurant? Heck, they're just patriotic Americans, not complete losers compensating for their inadequacies.

I always thought this was bizarre. If it's so easy to kill people without a gun, then why do you need to carry your gun with you, night and day? In fact, we could save a lot of money by not arming our military, too. Fists would certainly be cheaper, right?

But no, you've just got to have your gun, huh? Yet, at the same time, it's perfectly harmless, too. Your gun - which you desperately need for self-defense - wouldn't hurt a fly.  Guns don't kill people. In fact, guns are just toys. Come on in to Bullets and Burgers - and bring the kids!

Two days after this tragedy, the NRA was again tweeting about how much fun your kids would have at the shooting range! Apparently, these fun-with-guns tourism businesses are making money hand over fist:
Tourists from Japan flock to ranges in Waikiki, Hawaii, and the dozen or so that have cropped up in Las Vegas offer bullet-riddled bachelor parties and literal shotgun weddings, where newly married couples can fire submachine gun rounds and pose with Uzis and ammo belts. ...

The dusty outdoor range calls itself the Bullets and Burgers Adventure and touts its "Desert Storm atmosphere."

Similar attractions have been around since the 1980s in Las Vegas, although the city has experienced a boom of such businesses in the past few years. Excitement over guns tends to spike when there's fear of tighter gun restrictions, according to Dan Sessions, general manager of Discount Firearms and Ammo, which houses the Vegas Machine Gun Experience. ...

The businesses cast a lighthearted spin on their shooting experiences, staging weddings in their ranges and selling souvenir T-shirts full of bullet holes. ...

"We have better safety standards for who gets to ride a roller coaster at an amusement park," said Gerry Hills, founder of Arizonans for Gun Safety, a group seeking to reduce gun violence. Referring to the girl's parents, Hills said: "I just don't see any reason in the world why you would allow a 9-year-old to put her hands on an Uzi."

In 2008, an 8-year-old boy died after accidentally shooting himself in the head with an Uzi at a gun expo near Springfield, Massachusetts. Christopher Bizilj was firing at pumpkins when the gun kicked back. A former Massachusetts police chief whose company co-sponsored the gun show was later acquitted of involuntary manslaughter.

No one was even charged with a crime in this latest incident. A man is dead, and a nine-year-old girl gets to live with the memory of blowing his head off by accident. But hey, she won't forget that vacation, huh?

This stuff is just so completely insane. If you really can't live without your Precious at your side, ready to defend you from the scary rest of the world, then why can't we at least recognize these things as deadly dangerous weapons, not toys.

On the other hand, if guns really are perfectly harmless, despite the daily drumbeat of shooting deaths in America, why do you need to carry one with you at all times? If you can just as easily be killed in a fist-fight, why aren't your fists the only weapon you need?

The NRA pushes both of these memes, because gun and ammo manufacturers want to push as much of their product as they can, any way that they can. They don't care if it's contradictory.

Heck, they don't even care if people die. (In fact, that increases fear, which increases the demand for their product. It's win/win.)