Excellent Article On Concealed Carry

I had been planning on writing a long article to explain what it’s like to carry concealed to all my friends who have no experience in the practice or its associated culture. That actually described me for most of my life, since I didn’t grow up around guns or shoot my first gun until well into my 20s. However, a friend posted this article from Harper’s, and now I don’t need to write mine. It’s a long but excellent piece that matches almost exactly what I would have written.

I agree strongly with 2 of the 3 conclusions that the article draws:

  1. We should allow people to carry concealed, and in more places than we currently do.
  2. We should make the training requirements for concealed carry much more rigorous
  3. I plan on continuing to carry concealed (where it’s legal), although the author has decided it’s not worth the trouble for him.

In any case: go read it.

The Surreality of American Politics

German remains at Verdun.

It’s hard to overstate the visceral impact of World War I on the nations who were scarred by it. Part of the shock came from the staggering casualties. In countries where fighting took place, over 16% of the entire population was killed (Serbia), with even  major nations like France and Germany lost more than 3 or 4% of their populations. The scale of the devastation was compounded by the sense that modernity itself had betrayed civilization, however. Prior to World War 1 disease was always deadlier than human weapons, but this changed in World War 1. With newly invented weapons science–the guiding light since the dawn of the Enlightenment–had betrayed an entire civilization. The governments, churches, and other modern institutions that created and perpetuated the war without any ability to foresee it’s true cost cast centuries of political and philosophical progress into doubt.

An example of surreal art: The Elephant Celebes

Surrealism (along with its progenitor Dadaism and its successor Postmodernism) was the reaction to this horror. With it, Western society recoiled convulsively from the core conceit of modernity: the supremacy of  logic and reason. The Surrealist Manifesto advocated expressing thought in the “absence of all control exercised by reason” and took as its core article of faith “the omnipotence of dream.” When confronted with the War to End All Wars, the surrealists decided that if reality had become the the ultimate nightmare, any and all dreams and hallucinations were superior to reality.

Read moreThe Surreality of American Politics

Humble Indie Bundle 7, Ads, and Modernity

So, Humble Indie Bundle 7 is live.  You best believe I got in on that: it was just $6 to unlock all the games and soundtracks earlier this morning. I’m especially psyched for Dungeon Defenders as well as Shank 2. (Not to mention the soundtracks!)

I like the way they incentivize faster sales and a higher price (since you get to pick) by saying that if you pay more than the average paid to that point you get the extra unlocks, but there’s another wrinkle that’s either new or I simply hadn’t noticed before: the live dashboard of their current sales. 

Read moreHumble Indie Bundle 7, Ads, and Modernity

Bullet-proof Backpacks for Kids

MotherJones has an article detailing several companies that make backpacks that include hidden bullet-proof plates.

Each of these backpacks includes a bullet-proof plate.

I think the article is meant to be sarcastic or just sort of “What is the world coming to?” because it also includes both children’s bullet-proof vests (clearly not for every day use) as well as a combined body-armor/weapon system that allows you to quickly deploy a chest-plate with a Mac-11 machine pistol. This is not something I imagine Mother Jones would ordinarily be willing to advertise, but effectively they’ve just done that. For free. Politics makes people do strange things.

As far as terrible gun-related advertisements go, these are pretty tame. I once got an ad from The Blaze (run by Glenn Beck) advertising a model of a new civilian rifle that came broken down in a carrying case and could be unpacked into a sniper configuration. At that point you might as well just label the gun “Assassination Model”, and that’s just a little insane.

I'm a fan of guns, and I think the carrying case is neat, but the way the advertisement was structured weirded even me out.
I’m a fan of guns, and I think the carrying case is neat, but the way the advertisement was structured weirded even me out.

I have two kids who go to school, and I’m not really interested in this product, but I wouldn’t look down on someone who bought one (just the backpacks, I mean). The reasons I’m not interested are first of all: my kids are about as likely to be involved in a school shooting as to be struck by lightning. Secondly, I’m not sure that the limited protection of a single plate would really do that much good. And finally, the armor in these backpacks is only rated for handguns, not the rifle that was used by the shooters at Sandy Hook, Aurora, or many other public mass shootings.

Still, I thought it was interesting enough to share.

Don’t Expect Major New Gun Control, This Is Why

It’s just a local article from the CBS Denver affiliate, but I have a hunch it actually speaks volumes about the state of gun control in our country:

The day after the shooting in Connecticut a lot of people in Colorado tried to buy a gun.

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation says it received 4,154 requests for background checks from potential buyers on Saturday. That was so many the CBI couldn’t process them all and the backlog grew to nearly 18 hours. The Unit could only process 3,001 checks on Saturday.

Extra staff was brought in over the weekend and workers are still trying to clear the backlog.

There are a lot of ways you could interpret this, and a lot of potential conclusions you could draw. (Some would probably be true, others might not be.) The one stark reality seems to be that, no matter how much Americans may fear guns in the hands of ruthless killers, they see putting a gun in their own hand a part of the solution.

Understanding after Tragedy

When I realized the scope of what had happened at Sandy Hook Elementary, I posted the news to my Facebook feed to get the word out and called for people to hold off on the political debate out of respect for the tragedy. That’s not what happened, and even after getting used to the fairly rapid news-cycle in the wake of the Virginia Tech and Aurora shootings, I was shocked and dismayed at how quickly the two sides squared off and began attacking each other. 

Read moreUnderstanding after Tragedy

Second Piece for Times & Seasons: Faith is a Work in Progress

My second post about epistemic humility is now up at Times & Seasons.

For the record, I’ll be posting therefore about 2 weeks (1 and a half remaining), and then my guest-blogging time will be over. There will be some new blog pieces here as well during that time, and of course after it, but volume will probably be a little lower than usual while I’m writing the pieces for Times & Seasons just because they are unusually complicated for me to write. I’m trying to pull together a lot of tangled threads that have grown without much order over the years and wrangle them into something coherent and structured. It’s tricky work (for me, at least).