Guns Don’t Kill People, Statistics Do

PrintThe primary reason given for gun ownership is protection. That is one valid potential use for a gun. But that is not the only way that a gun can be used. Here are common uses for a gun:

  1. Protection
  2. Intentional self-harm
  3. Accidental self-harm
  4. Intentional other-harm
  5. Accidental other-harm

On this list, protection is statistically the least likely. Uses 2-5 are much more common than is protection. So, when a gun is introduced into a home, it is significantly more likely to be used for unintended reasons than for the intended reason.

That would be true in a home of one person. Now let’s multiply the above list by the number of people who have proximity to that gun:

  1. Self
  2. Family Members
  3. Visitors to the home
  4. Thieves

None of us can predict future circumstances or know of future mental states. None of us can predict the potential for mental illness (either permanent or temporary) either in ourself or in those with proximity to the gun.

Gun x Unintended Uses x Others x Unknown Future = Danger

Take the statistically more likely uses for the gun (2-5) and multiply that by the number of people proximity to that gun, and multiply that again by the unknown future mental state of any of those with proximity, and you begin to understand why a gun in the home is significantly more likely to be used in a manner that is not intended.

Homes with a gun are more dangerous than homes without a gun.

Trolling & The Star Spangled Banner

bwflagA common definition of trolling on the internet is injecting red herrings into an online discussion or debate in order to distract from the prior conversation. It’s an attempt to adds noise to the debate so as to disrupt it.
 
Asserting that taking a knee at a football game is disrespectful of Veterans is trolling. It’s the assertion of a red herring into an important discussion. It’s meant to distract from, not participate in, the conversation.
 
Veterans don’t fight for the flag, or a song, or the pledge of allegiance. Veterans fight for people. For citizens. For equal protection under the law. To conclude otherwise is to suggest the flag is more important than the rights & people it represents.
 
We don’t serve the flag; the flag serves us.

Trump The Cuban Missile Crisis

mushroom-cloud-photography-11892-www-wallconvertNOTE: While there is a humorous tone to this post, I take the issue quite seriously. Trump is simply not fit to be POTUS. This is an attempt to envision the Cuban Missile Crisis under a Trump Presidency.


Day 1

President Trump learns on Twitter that Cuba has nuclear weapons.

Trump Tweets: “Putin and Cuba are so COOL; they’re like bullies. Big respect for that. Looking forward to meeting him soon!”


Day 2

President Trump convenes his top advisors, Chris Christie, Trey Gowdy, Ivanka Trump and Michelle Bachman to discuss his concerns. The meeting lasts 20 minutes.

Trump Tweets: “We’re going to CRUSH Cuba. BIG League. They won’t know what hit them. And then we’ll take the Island. Hey…new HOTEL?” Read more

An Open Letter to Conflicted Republicans…

Donald J. Trump Campaigns In MiamiDear Republican Friends…

I get that many of you are conflicted. I understand that you dislike the policies of the democratic party, and think that Hillary would take us down a path opposite where you think we should go. I’m being honest; I can sense the gut wrench of your decision, and don’t envy it.

If Donald Trump is elected President of the United States, the dignity of the office would be forever tarnished. The dignity of the United States would be forever tarnished.

Trump is not a viable option to lead this country. He’s quite simply the worst candidate ever to be presented for the office. Most of you know this. I don’t need to recount the why’s of it. A GOP candidate who has been rejected by every past living GOP president, who has been called a con man by your last presidential nominee. You don’t have to take my word, just listen to members of your own party.

Let’s be honest…

Trump is not a republican. You can have no faith in what he says; you cannot rely on him to enact conservative policies. He’s simply all over the board. You know this.

Trump is not a moral man. I understand that many of you consider yourselves moral voters. There simply is no case to be made that Trump will bring any dignity to the office of President. You know he does not represent nor does he live your values.

Trump is a dangerous man. He’s impulsive. Can we really trust him on matters of foreign policy and heading the military?

It’s not enough to not vote for Donald Trump. Donald Trump has to be defeated. That means someone else has to win. If you agree with me that Trump represents a dire threat to the Country, please use your vote not just to withhold by voting for a third-party candidate, but rather, use it to ensure that Trump loses. And that will require you to do what previously may have been unthinkable: Vote for Hillary Clinton.

We The People. We are still in this together.

The Misinformation Age

boat-storm2This age may not be as good for humanity as is commonly assumed. We are in grave danger of being harmed by too much information.

Information, on its own, is neither good nor bad. Rather it is either valid or invalid.

Signal-to-noise ratio is a measure used in science that compares the level of a desired signal to the level of background noise. In communication theory, this indicates the amount of valid information (the signal) to the amount of invalid information (the noise).

Signal can’t be analyzed apart from noise. An increase in good signal does not automatically mean we are better informed; if there has been an even greater increase in bad noise, we are less informed.

The current presidential campaign is instructive. Turn on any news channel; by the end of the program, you will be left with more questions than answers. This is due to being given more noise than signal. And each day is increasing the noise, and thereby decreasing the signal.

Brandolini’s Law: The amount of energy necessary to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it

News and journalism should increase signal & decrease noise. There can be no doubt news is now increasing noise. In fact, most journalism now revels in noise, because noise can create controversy, and controversy can increase viewers and readers.

It may be that humanity has not evolved in a way that allows us to process information as quickly as it is being presented. We have not been adequately educated to separate signal and noise.

The point is this: we are less informed today than we were yesterday. But, you may respond, what about all the new information we have received!?! It’s true; we’ve been blessed with unprecedented levels of good information in the recent past. But if in that same period we have been flooded with misinformation, the net result is a reduction in knowledge, not an increase. If there is more noise, there is simply less signal.

This is not a small problem. It may very well be the biggest challenge humanity has ever faced. And we are losing.

A Word Problem for Alt-Left Voters

Fortunately, it's not this hard!

Fortunately, it’s not this hard!

Billy, an Alt-Left voter, is trying to decide who to vote for in the upcoming Presidential Election.

  • Candidate Green and Billy share the same opinion 100% of the time.
  • Candidate Blue and Billy share the same opinion 75% of the time.
  • Candidate Orange and Billy share the same opinion 0% of the time.

Read more

A Trump IRS FOIA Request

On Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016, I submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the Internal Revenue Service. The focus of my request is for any documents which confirm that anyone with the last name “Trump” is currently being audited, whether or not such an audit is completed, and a list of names of IRS employees who are assigned to any audits relating to anyone with the last name Trump.  Read more

Judging Hillary: They Who Are Without Sin…

hillaryI became angry at a fellow Democrat this weekend…

She’s a solid Hillary Clinton supporter, never a doubt that she was going to vote for her. But over drinks, she said what we all hear over and over again about HRC: “She’s a liar, she’s power-hungry, she’s…” You know the list.
 
Dear Everybody…Here are some things about Hillary Clinton you have insufficient evidence for:
  • She’s dishonest
  • She’s really in it for the power
  • She doesn’t really care about the issues
  • She doesn’t really love Bill
  • She’s a cold, distant mother
  • She’s a cold, distant grandmother
  • She’s shrill
  • She’s really in it for the money
  • She’s in the pocket of Wall Street
  • She’s really a Republican
  • She’s really a Socialist
We are all free to hold to the “who would you rather have a beer with” trope. We are certainly free to make the judgements I list above. But if you judge Hillary Clinton without acknowledging the systemic and cultural sexism through which we judge her and the relentless nearly three decade campaign of deliberate misinformation that she’s been subjected to, well then…
  • Who’s being dishonest?
Has Hillary Clinton lied? Yes. After years of scrutinizing every charge that has been leveled at her (I know, I need a life), here’s the one thing she’s said that I think was a lie: the incident of “sniper fire” on her 1996 trip to Bosnia.
 
But rather than implicating her as a “liar” I marvel at how under such scrutiny, recorded in detail far greater than nearly any other human in history (maybe Princess Diana?), how little evidence there actually is for the primary narrative about her. Being honest with myself, I’ve lied and exaggerated stories. Even so, I value honesty and integrity, and would consider any judgement that labeled me “a liar” unfair.
“They who are without sin…”

Proposal for a Fair & Dynamic Market-based Economy

bell_curve_natureThe following is consistent with the principles of capitalism. The economy must match the values of the community in which it resides. Those community values are defined in the Constitution both of the Federal Government and the State Government. The economy must also benefit the community as a whole; the existence of a stable market requires the existence of a stable government and a stable community. This proposal maintains focus on a market economy, rooted in the notion of a fair market.

If the cost of living in a given community is $30,000, the AVERAGE wage in that community would be $1,500,000. Want a raise?

There is a fallacy known widely as a free market; free markets do not and cannot exist; they are theoretical. Absent regulation, a market will tend to favor the powerful and diminish the weak; over time, this will destabilize both the community and the economy. If free markets were to exist, they would naturally approximate what I have outlined below. The degree to which an economy veers from what I have outlined below is the degree it differs from a theoretical free market. Contrary to popular belief, the approximation of a free market requires rather than abhors regulation. Put another way, Libertarianism is the opposite of a free market.

The primary goal in the following economic model is to produce a bell-curve distribution of wealth and income. If a free market were to exist, it would naturally produce this bell-curve distribution. Read more

Holding Nose? Nonsense…

There’s a common narrative this election cycle that most voters are simply holding their nose and choosing the lesser evil. For example, Chris Cillizza tweeted this today:

The problem with this narrative is that it is overwhelmingly false. Here’s why:

In recent polling, the favorables for Clinton (and Trump) were broken out into many different groups. But let’s focus on one very important group to dispel the notion that Mr. Cillizza is spreading above: Clinton Voters.

Of those voters who plan to vote for Hillary Clinton, here’s her Favorable/Unfavorable numbers:

Favorable: 84%
Unfavorable: 9%
Not Sure: 7%

Or stated another way, only 9% of those voters who are choosing Hillary Clinton could reasonably be described as “holding their nose.” 91% hold favorable views or are not yet sure.

This dispels the oft-repeated myth of lesser evilism. And perhaps more interestingly, this common narrative is really only rooted in certain narrow voter demographics. For example:

Among African Americans, there is very little holding of noses regarding Clinton:

Favorable: 83% 
Unfavorable: 7% 
Not Sure: 10% 

Among Democrats as a whole, a similar story:

Favorable: 73% 
Unfavorable: 18% 
Not Sure: 10%

Among Hispanics:

Favorable: 59% 
Unfavorable: 34%
Not Sure: 7%

Stop buying the spin. Hillary Clinton is a widely admired candidate, and her voters recognize her as such.

When Hillary Clinton Wins…

135017_bannerWhen Hillary Clinton wins this election, she will have beaten…

…with more to come.

Hillary Clinton & Racism

06-hillary-clinton-black-voters-2.w710.h473.2xRecently, in a discussion on racism among recent presidential candidates, a friend asked me what level of racism I think Hillary Clinton holds. Here is my answer:

Building a Scale: 1 to 10, 10 being the most racist.

Clinton: 2 or 3

Let’s say there’s a dividing line at 5, and the dividing point is whether a person is teachable on the subject of racism; do they fundamentally understand racism and are open to learning and improving on their own biases as well as the systemic racism in our culture? The dividing line is where I think it is ethical to call someone racist; above a 5 they are fairly labeled a racist, and below 5 they are not.

Rather than answer from my perspective alone, let’s rely on the support that Clinton receives from the African American community (note, we could talk about minorities in general, including Latinos and Asians, for example, but for the purposes of this discussion, let’s focus in on African Americans).

I’d place Clinton at 2 or 3 on the described scale. That means that she maintains the remnants of racism naturally inherent in all humans and the remnants of racism inherent in white privilege. But she’s also keenly aware of her own racism and the racism in our society, and more specifically, the systemic ways racism manifests in government.

Let’s look at how African Americans see her:

On the question of who they will vote for:
Clinton: 80 %
Trump: 3%

Let’s look at favorability:

While Ciinton’s favorability ratings among all voters sits at 41 favorable and 52 unfavorable, among African Americans, Clinton has an 83% favorability rating.

While one might conclude that she only does this well in contrast to Trump, I’d note that Clinton pulled similar numbers in her matchup with Bernie Sanders.

Finally, as a measure of her awareness on these issues, I’d direct you to read her policy positions:

Racial Justice
Criminal Justice Reform
Voting Rights

Polling taken from http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/…/PPP_Release…

Wikileaks is not Journalism

woodward_184_2_650Wikileaks has been dubbed “Journalism” in an attempt to secure a measure of legitimacy for what they do. Recently, I heard the analogy that Wikileaks is like Deep Throat and Woodward and Bernstein of Watergate fame.

Wikileaks are not Deep Throat or Woodward and Bernstein. Wikileaks are the burglars who broke into the Democratic National Committee office at the Watergate hotel. The info released by Wikileaks is the info stolen from the Democratic National Committee.

Imagine if the Washington Post, instead of telling us the story of the break-in as THE STORY, published the information stolen from the Democratic National Committee. And then treated the burglars as Journalists.

That’s the state of both Wikileaks and our Press today. In the era of sensationalism, we’ve lost site of the real story. Let’s not crown the Burglers of Watergate as the heroes.

assnage_watergate

 

No More War?

syrian_boy

We’ve all seen the picture. Heartbreaking.

A Washington State Delegate for Bernie Sanders posted this picture on Facebook and then stated “This is why we chant “No More War”. Because NO child anywhere should have to have these experiences. I don’t care who pulls the trigger, and I don’t care who has to give the order. Humans should be working together to make our world a paradise, not fighting about money, food, water, oil or lines on a piece of paper.”

In other words, he’s using this picture to justify disrupting the DNC with chants of “No More War.” He’s using this picture to justify labeling Hillary Clinton a “War Monger.”

Let’s analyze that. This boy was just bombed by the Russian-backed Syrian Air Force. It may have been Russian Planes.

The overly simplistic chant of ‘No More War’ says that there’s nothing to be done to come to the aid of this child and his family. It says that the U.S. should always stay out of such conflicts around the world.

How, exactly, would this approach help this child?

And this…

“Fifteen of the last 35 doctors in rebel-held eastern Aleppo have written a letter to Barack Obama with an urgent plea for intervention to stop the bombardment of hospitals in the besieged city by the Russian-backed Syrian air force.”

Would the ‘No More War’ crowd simply shout down these doctors with that chant?

Radical leftists claim a moral high ground through simply ignoring reality. By staying out of the complex problems that exist in the World, they pretend to be unsullied. By lobbing opinions from the peanut gallery, they pretend to be offering solutions. In reality, they offer nothing.

The world is complex. War and peace are complex. Anyone who tells you otherwise has nothing meaningful to offer to the conversation.

The irony of this Facebook post is that he is using this picture to justify actions that would do nothing to help this child.

Progressives Make Progress

If you support candidates and issues that lose, you’re not a progressive. You’re a conservative.

Jill Stein is not a progressive. Why? She doesn’t make progress. She confuses holding an opinion for making progress. She’s convinced many people to hold opinions in higher esteem than making progress.

To the degree that one holds opinion in higher esteem than progress, and thereby aids conservative ideas to win, then that person is working for the conservative movement.

Progress trumps opinion. A progressive understands this.

The Progressive Coalition: An Invitation

coalitionDear Berniecrats, Green Partiers, Socialist Alternatives, and other Progressives…

I extend to you an invitation to build a Progressive Coalition.

I get it. Your views create separation from the Democratic party. Your views are not fully captured by Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Platform. You long for a more representative movement. It is not my intent here to argue with your views, to change your views, or to beg you to join the Democratic party.

I, too, am a Progressive. Sure, I am a Democratic-flavored progressive, but a progressive nonetheless. Like you, I am passionate about my politics. I am mindful of the ethics of my positions, and dedicated to Social Justice and the Environment, and many other issue on which we likely agree.

Politics always requires coalitions to build majority movements. Even in Countries where there are multiple viable parties, majorities are built from coalitions of smaller movements. This is true in our two-party system as well, just to a less-defined degree.

For all our differences, we still have many shared values. And I firmly believe that we are all stronger when we have a member of the Progressive Coalition in the Whitehouse.

Hear me out; I’m going to talk about Ralph Nader. I’m not going to blame him for being the spoiler in 2000. But I am going to question whether his approach to that election helped or hurt the progressive movement as embodied in the Green Party? In my review of the history, the election of George Bush did not build a groundswell of resources to further build progressive movements. Rather, that energy was simply exhausted in opposing the Bush presidency; efforts that in my estimation would have largely been freed under a Gore presidency.

In other words, had Ralph Nader both committed to building the Green Party, AND committed to working to elect Al Gore, who was the most likely candidate to win the White House for the progressive movement, I contend that more energy could have been devoted to building strong Progressive movements of different varieties. The effort would have been a net gain, not only for the Democratic Party, but for the Green Party as well. Further, much of the Obama presidency has been spent simply making up for lost ground under the Bush presidency.

Without resorting to the fear-based ask surrounding Trump, the same scenario exists today. We can build a Progressive Coalition to elect a member of our Progressive movement. By doing so, we will gain several important benefits that accrue to all Progressives.

Joining such a coalition does not require you to abandon your beliefs or principles. The opposite is true. The degree to which the President of the United States shares even some of your values frees you to not have to fight an opponent of those values. That energy can then be used to focus on building your movement and expanding your base.

Coalitions don’t require us to agree on everything. They simply ask us to build on those values that we already share.

Will you join me? Can we build a Progressive Coalition?

That is my sincere hope.

 Timothy Killian
A Fellow Progressive