Guns are in America’s DNA

Australia

After the Port Arthur massacre in Australia, former Australian Prime Minister John Howard said, “We have an opportunity in this country not to go down the American path.” And they took that opportunity: Australia banned semi-automatic rifles and shotguns – weapons that can kill many people quickly – and implemented a 28-day waiting period, thorough background checks, and a requirement to present a “justifiable reason” to own a gun.

Guns were not banned outright, and while gun violence did not end in Australia, it was cut by roughly half since 1996 – and there has never been another Port Arthur since.

United Kingdom

In 1987, a single gunman killed 16 people in what came to be known as the Hungerford Massacre. As a result, made registration mandatory for owning shotguns and banning semi-automatic and pump-action weapons.

Despite this action, in 1996 an unspeakable, cowardly bastard burst into the gymnasium of a primary school in Dunblane, Scotland, and killed 15 children aged five and six along with their teacher before turning one of his handguns on himself. By 18 months later, UK lawmakers had passed a ban on the private ownership of all handguns in mainland Britain, resulting in some of the toughest anti-gun legislation in the world.

The United States

In the first month and a half of 2018, there had been 17 shooting incidents at schools in our country. Some were accidental, some were intentional, one was suicide, and some resulted in no injury or death – but 22 people died, and many more were injured. As of this writing, there have been 290 school shootings since 2013.

Even one is too many.

But the odds that the United States will ever ban firearms outright approach my odds of winning the lottery – that is to say, virtually nonexistent.

From where I sit, there are two dominant reasons for this, reasons which have the weight of history behind them.

1. The right to bear arms is guaranteed by the Second Amendment to our Constitution:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The interpretation of the scope of that statement, in the absence of the people who framed it, is being examined in courts on a continual basis. More about this in a bit.

2. Firearms are an integral part of our nation’s history

For better or for worse, our nation’s history depended on firearms. The expanding frontier and the uncertainties of life in a lawless country made owning a firearm (or an armory) often meant the difference between survival and becoming a nameless skeleton on the prairie.

write

“Why don’t she write?”

But after surviving the hostile elements, there was still the matter of putting food on the table. Hunting in American has morphed from a matter of daily bread to a wildly popular sport; in Utah, for example, teachers expect classrooms to be oddly empty during the deer hunt.

When I was growing up, guns were everywhere. It may be why “A Christmas Story” is such a popular movie with a certain generation:

Image result for Red Ryder BB Gun

Ads for air rifles and BB guns were seen in just about every comic book:

daisy.JPG

At summer camp, we had a BB range and a rifle range. I loved riflery, and in 1964 I attained the Junior NRA rank of “Sharpshooter 2nd Bar.” I would have certainly gone farther had I been able to attend camp more frequently – target shooting was a lot of fun, and I was proud to have earned these.

medals

I owned many toy guns and weapons of mass destruction when I was a kid – and playing “cops and robbers” and “cowboys and Indians” was just what was done.

cowboy.jpg

davenport.gif

In our games, when you got shot dead you always just got up again… even if they got you right behind the davenport. While our riflery instructor was impeccably serious about safety on the range, there was never any training given on how to handle a gun safely in the real world, or education around the fact that guns were designed to kill things instead of hit targets at 50 feet, or that when you’re dead, that’s it – there’s no coming back for a second chance.

The fact that guns are written into America’s DNA has allowed the NRA to morph from an organization for sports enthusiasts into a powerful political entity – one which seems determined to preserve and expand its influence at all costs. And their “cold dead hands,” any weapon, any time, any caliber, any size, any magazine, any bump-stock philosophy has been adopted by a significant portion of our citizenry, including a significant number of our legislators who take obscene amounts of money from the NRA, all the while sending their “thoughts and prayers” to the victims without being willing to do anything about the carnage.

The recent shooting at Parkland left 17 people dead. I haven’t even mentioned other gun-related deaths, such as the one in Las Vegas that killed 58 people and injured 851.

It’s time for a change.

Yes, the 2nd Amendment still guarantees our citizenry the right to bear arms, but I do not believe – I will not believe – that the writers of that amendment  ever meant for a single individual to own something like this, unless the zombie apocalypse were a real possibility:

awesome-arms-cache-gun-room-with-blue-walls

Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative voice on the Supreme Court, wrote:

“Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited…”. It is “…not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”

I personally believe that the writers of the 2nd Amendment would be shocked if they saw how that little bit of the Constitution was being interpreted and argued and implemented today, especially if they viewed the daily carnage in a nation with between 270 million to 310 million firearms, depending on whose estimate you believe.

As long as the 2nd Amendment remains in force, we as citizens of this country must balance a right to bear arms with an end to the daily death toll which has reached untenable proportions – indeed, has been unbearable for decades.

If you want to own a gun, this is how it should go:

  1. You take “Firearm Education,” a government-approved class on firearm operation and safety. (Note that many states mandate a driver’s ed class of at least 30 hours.)
  2. You take a written and practical test on the type of firearm for which you wish an endorsement.
  3. You submit to a background check. The current Brady Law mandates use of the NICS, but as we have seen with the Florida and Las Vegas shootings, past actions are not always an indicator of future ones. Too many red flags were missed in the case of the perpetrators; more needs to be done to keep weapons out of the hands of unstable individuals.
  4. Your guns are registered, licensed, and taxed, just like your cars are. Nobody tells you how many cars you can own, or of what kind, as long as you’re licensed to drive them and pay all relevant taxes and fees.
  5. You have liability insurance on each weapon.
  6. Your weapons are inspected and re-registered at yearly intervals, just like your car. Aside from the die-hard sovereign-nation groups, nobody complains about having to re-register cars, or pay excise taxes, or have them inspected for safety, or maintain current insurance. It’s for everyone’s safety, owner and public alike.

In addition to this, I call for a total ban on semiautomatic weapons in the hands of private individuals. They are weapons of war; nobody needs one of these killing machines for hunting, or for any other purpose short of the above-mentioned zombie apocalypse. Bump stocks are a no-brainer – they make no sense.

I have many gun-toting, sharpshooting, hunting, and reloading friends who will disagree with my opinions, but that’s how America works. This is such a highly-charged issue that I debated about disabling comments on this post, but I have always supported civil discourse on difficult issues. Ignorant and trollish comments will be ignored and deleted without ceremony.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The Drug Pricing Maze

I’m grateful to have health insurance. Many, many people don’t, and that’s an ongoing debate in our society right now. That said, I absolutely don’t understand what’s going on with drug prices.

I get my long-term scripts filled by Magellan, a mail-order pharmacy. When my last batch of prescriptions was delivered, the printed circulars that came with them had some interesting information that got me thinking.

These are all very common drugs, not rare ones. Actual drug names have been replaced with ℞ A, ℞ B, and ℞ C.


℞ A: The lowest GoodRx price for the most common version of ℞ A is around $4.00, 90% off the average retail price of $43.29 (30-day supply)

OTC versions, for comparison:

Amazon: $27.96
Walmart: $8.00
Kroger: $17.06
Costco: $19.26

Magellan states that the ℞ price for a 90-day supply is $187.20
With Insurance: $10.00
Cash discount: $10.00
Net price: 0

So I ended up getting this one for free.


℞ B: (GoodRx) The cost for ℞ B is around $13 for a supply of 90 capsules, depending on the pharmacy you visit. Prices are for cash paying customers only and are not valid with insurance plans.

This drug is not available over the counter.

Magellan states that the ℞ price for a 90-day supply is $397.22
With Insurance: $10.00


℞ C: The lowest GoodRx price for the most common version of ℞ C is around $10.54, 92% off the average retail price of $134.99 (30-day supply)

Not available OTC.

Magellan states that the ℞ price for a 90-day supply is $450.00
With Insurance: $10.00


So I’ve paid $20.00 for scripts that should have cost me $1034.42

These numbers from Magellan just don’t add up. Are these “self-pay” prices, or just randomly inflated numbers to make me think I’m getting a killer deal? What is the “average retail price” anyway, if nobody pays that?

I found this article at Lifehacker, and it addresses the issue that I mention here – but even after reading the article, to me it is still a mass of confusion. And I realize that in terms of the complexity of the entire situation, what I’ve outlined is just the frost on the surface of the Antarctic ice sheet.

The situation is untenable, and I can clearly not choose the drugs in front of me.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Did you know the Post Office sells your information?

mail.jpg

I wish I had known this long ago. I would never have put in forwarding requests. It’s mean, it’s ignorant, and from a moral standpoint it’s downright reprehensible – but it’s legal, and they do it gleefully to get gain.

After our recent move to the wilds of Utah to the east coast, I put in three forwarding requests – one for our personal mail, and two for businesses. Little did I know that this would cause me no end of trouble, as that information was instantly transmitted to marketing agencies and basically anyone who has two coppers to rub together, and immediately began receiving junk mail and having my new information appear on automatically scraped websites.

Here’s the Forbes article I found – a bit dated, but still valid – that opened my eyes to this dirty little secret.

Whenever you fill out a change of address form with the United States Postal Service, the USPS adds your new details into a database of 160 million previous address changes over the past four years. The USPS has deals with data brokers to sell this data to anyone who pays, provided they have your old address. That means data firms cannot buy the address of Leroy Jones in Cincinnati, but can obtain his new address if they know where he used to live, which they usually do anyway.

This is, in a word, filthy. The PO’s responsibility is to get my mail from here to there, and that’s where their responsibility ends. To take people’s personal info and sell it to data brokers is nothing short of criminal, and it shouldn’t be permitted.

So this time, when we move from our temporary apartment to the home that we will – it is to be hoped – shortly be purchasing, I will not be relying on the PO to forward my mail. In plenty of time, I hope to inform our critical correspondents of our new address individually, and let the junk mail  get returned to sender.

There is supposedly a loophole, although I don’t know if I trust the Post Office as far as I could throw a grand piano:

There is, however, a loophole that keeps data brokers from accessing your updated address. When you fill out the online form to change an address, you can indicate a temporary change that provides six months of forwarding that can then be extended for another six months.  That information, unlike the changes marked as permanent, is not included in the master list sold to data brokers.

Time will tell.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The People Here *still* Don’t Want a War.

Newser, one of my favorite aggregators, recently published a summary of an article by Stephen Peter Rosen at Wall Street Journal entitled

We Need to Sell Young People on War

Even though the body of the article is behind a paywall, if Newser’s summary is any indication this entire premise is pure kack. Never forget that Congress and the President make war, but it’s our soldiers who fight them; to the latter, honor and respect – to the former, my disdain. If every congressperson who voted to waste noble American blood and resources on futile and inhumane causes were given a weapon and shipped to the front lines, the votes would quickly be different. As Chaucer spake, moste witerliche:

“Up roos tho oon of thise olde wise, and with his hand made contenaunce that men sholde holden hem stille and yeven hym audience. “Lordynges,” quod he, “ther is ful many a man that crieth ‘Werre! Werre!’ that woot ful litel what werre amounteth. Werre at his bigynnyng hath so greet an entryng and so large, that every wight may entre whan hym liketh, and lightly fynde werre; but certes, what ende that shal therof bifalle, it is nat light to knowe. For soothly, whan that werre is ones bigonne, ther is ful many a child unborn of his mooder that shal sterve yong by cause of thilke werre, or elles lyve in sorwe and dye in wrecchednesse. And therfore, er that any werre bigynne, men moste have greet conseil and greet deliberacion.”

For those not comfortable with Middle English, this is what Chaucer wrote:

“And up rose an old man, and with his hand he made signs that men should be silent and listen to him. “My lords,” he said, there is many a man who cries ‘War! War!’ who knows little of what war means. War, at its beginning, has such a great and large commencement that any poor yutz [my translation] can jump in and find war; but it is certain that it is not easy to say what the end will bring. For of a truth, when that war has once begun, there is many an unborn child who shall die young because of this war, or else live in sorrow and die in wretchedness. And therefore, before any war begins, men must have great counsel and deliberation.”

The only reason war is justified – in my poor and simple view, is to “support our lands, and our houses, and our wives, and our children, that we might preserve them from the hands of our enemies; and also that we might preserve our rights and our privileges, and our liberty.”  [1] Insane conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, waged to preserve what we consider to be our oil, our power, and our influence do not now fall under this head, and never shall.

Take note: I believe in a strong defense against all enemies foreign and domestic. I do not believe in disbanding the military. But I do believe that a vast percentage of our nation’s resources are being squandered on inhuman and inhumane causes. Have a look at the OMB’s chart showing the president’s 2014 recommendations for discretionary spending:

spending_-_discretionary_pie_2014_big

With so many people in this country out of work, with so many children going to bed hungry every night, with so many roads and bridges crumbling to the point of catastrophe, with funding for education and science being cut year by year, a military budget that size is unconscionable and obscene. This is not building a world that works for everyone, but a travesty of global proportions.

With apologies to Bobby Darin, the people here *still* don’t want a war.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

—————-

[1] Paraphrased from The Book of Mormon, Alma 43:9

 

Stupidity, hard at work in the White House

Stamps

The Post Office designed a new set of stamps to encourage kids to get active. Great idea, right?

Unfortunately, thanks to some Old_Wolf_Censoredon the President’s Council on Fitness, the project has now been put on hold, because it appears that these three stamps are promoting “unsafe” activities:

danger

The stamps deemed unsafe by federal officials included illustrations of kids skateboarding without kneepads, doing a cannonball dive into a swimming pool, and doing a handstand without wearing a helmet. A handstand without wearing a helmet???

There are times I really wish I could swear. Of all the chuckleheaded, doltish, ludicrous, ill-considered, short-sighted and politically correct nonsense I have ever heard, this takes the cake. YOU BLISTERING SIMPLETONS! Yes, I’m SHOUTING! Did you get run over by the stupid truck? What, are you going to put federal monitors on every school playground and in every backyard, to make sure kids don’t run, jump, do cartwheels, tumble, climb trees, roll down hills, do somersaults, and everything kids do to enjoy life and burn off energy? [1]

cartwheel_c-425x282

I’ve written about the difference between safety and paranoia, but it appears the general trend continues in favor of paranoia, fueled largely by attorneys hungry for billable hours and with far too much time on their hands. For the love of anything you consider holy, every single one of those activities on the stamp sheet come with some inherent risks; we might as well curl up in a ball under our bed if we’re worried about safety to that extent. At least that way, nothing will get us but the dust mites.

I don’t believe in violence, but things like this are very stressful for me [2].

It was earlier reported that the entire run of stamps is being destroyed, but according to USPS spokeman Roy Betts, “The stamps are on hold and a decision would be made later.”

You can read more about this mind-boggling witlessness at ABC News.


[1] It appears stupidity is not limited to the USA. A school in Australia actually tried to ban kids from doing cartwheelsOld_Wolf_BrainNuke

[1] Stress: The confusion created when one’s mind overrides the body’s basic desire to choke the living daylights out of some jerk who desperately deserves it.


DistilPure

DistilPure is an organic,  non-petroleum natural-source MSM
Certified by analysis to be 100% bio-source
No fillers or additives, suitable for vegans and vegetarians

Post 1000: An Open Letter to Congress and the White House

This is my 1000th post on this blog since I began writing 18 months ago. I wish I had a happier topic to write about, but today is day 3 of an inexcusable, unconscionable, and cruel shutdown of our “government.” Notice those scare quotes there… they were placed for a reason.

We do not have a government. What we have is this:

three_way_tantrum

Babies.

Babies in a miserable, wretched sandbox fight.

Babies crying about not getting their way. Throwing sand, pulling hair, crying, taking their ball and going home… babies who are charged with the stewardship of trillions of dollars, not a single one of which belongs to them. They are fighting amongst themselves for only one reason – to shore up their support for the next election. And in the meantime, thousands of workers have been furloughed, parks are closed, visitors are being turned away, revenue is being lost, women and children in desperate need are unable to get supplemental food, critical space projects[1] are coming close to missing deadlines imposed not by some mid-level government functionary but by physicsbitches, our debt rating with the world is being flushed down the toilet, along with seven jillionteen other detrimental consequences, and still they sit there, crying, beating their breasts about dogma and ideology, and not giving a rat’s south-40 that almost all of America, regardless of political persuasion, is saying,

Stop it!

stop-just-stop

As a body, you are not governing. You’re not doing the job you were elected to do.  Although a few of you see the folly and are doing your best to make things happen, but the numbers just aren’t there in the face of all the partisan, ideological obstructionism that pervades both houses of Congress and the presidency, and we, the people, are sick to death of it. As for me, I want to slap every one of you until you come to your senses.

We need jobs. We need education. We need healthcare for every citizen of this country, regardless of their ability to pay. We need to work on reducing poverty, crime, alienation, disenfranchisement, and a host of other social ills – and you arrogant, selfish, short-sighted, privileged buffoons sit there and allow the mechanism that our founding fathers put in place to address those problems to shut down.

garbage

This is where I’m at. I’m disgusted with all of you. I would like to see a total sweep. But in very truth, things are reaching a tipping point.

You, the “leaders” of our country who are leading us nowhere but into deprivation and destruction, are fast approaching a time when voting you out of office will not be enough; rather, you are courting insurrection among the people whom you are charged to govern, and if it comes to that, it will be upon your own heads. America is champing at the bit for a chance to clean the inward vessel.

Take heed. Get off your privileged butts and get the government back to work. Hundreds of millions of people, of whom 15% live in poverty and a much vaster percentage can feel economic terror snapping at their heels on a daily basis, depend on you to do your jobs. Now stop throwing sand, and do them.

The Old Wolf has spoken.[2]


[1] The next time you wonder about what good comes from space exploration and research, have a look at your GPS-enabled phone.
[2] And I’m quite pleased that I was able to express my feelings without sinking to the level of vulgar profanity that I feel is warranted by this debacle.

NSA vs. the World

Over at Reddit, user /u/SexualWeasel came up with the idea for this new NSA logo, which was then vectorized by user /u/joystick354:

tx5fdWz

This absolutely begged to be turned into something else, and redditor /u/Sqorck went ahead and did it. Amazingly well.

For your gratuitous enjoyment, I present you with USA vs. NSA:

An alternate version was also created – you can decide for yourself which one you like best:

I have insufficient words to describe how awesome I think these are.

Naturally, the original concept came from Pixar, to whom credit and apologies are offered.

The Old Wolf has spoken, and the NSA is listening.


DistilPure

DistilPure is an organic,  non-petroleum natural-source MSM
Certified by analysis to be 100% bio-source
No fillers or additives, suitable for vegans and vegetarians