Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Marx again (sigh)

Sometimes I have to check up on people who think a lot. These are people who don't do anything else but think (and tell everybody what they think). So, last night I thumbed through a people-who-think-a-lot magazine. This one was on the left, and was filled with opinions of people who are a) of the opinion that the US is wrong no matter what it does, and b) they could run things a lot better than anyone else. This is in strong opposition to the magazines on the right, which, in contrast, are filled with opinions by people who are a) of the opinion that the US is wrong no matter what it does and b) they could run things a lot better than anyone else.
Anyway, this one author was opining that Marx was right after all, given the economic mess we've gotten into. This pronouncement was based on the fact that Marx had said a number of things and given some analyses that have, if you squint a little, validity to the present day circumstances.
In fact, a good deal of what Marx said does make sense, and if you juggle terms a little, the Marx stance looks a lot like some of the advanced thinking of today.
But that doesn't make Marx right, or even relevant. He's still the same old grumpy fuzz face whose philosophy, put into action, resulted (and results inevitably) in death, misery, famine, economic chaos, and bondage for millions of people.
Give us a break, armchair theorists. You can revere Marx all you want, but do I have to read your cheesy thoughts? Well, I guess I do. That's why we have the constitution.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Alternatives to Taser

I noted in my last blog how some people are incensed at the police for using tasers on people. So, I've decided to come up with some alternatives. The criterion I'm working under is what the taser critics would want: The device has to immobilize a subject without doing any harm at all, without causing any discomfort, and with a due respect for environment and global warming in particular.
So here goes. First, police could be equipped with giant cans of super string. Then, when a person confronts them with a gun, they could run around the person, all the time squirting them with super string until they were wrapped up in a warm cocoon. No, wait. Super string could get in their eyes and possibly blind them, or get in their noses and possibly interfere with their breathing somewhat, or even cause them to topple over and skin a knee. Not to mention the possibility of staining clothes. So, that's out.
How about a giant, soft net -- not one of those hairy, scratchy, hemp ones, but a nice woven nylon with a flexible core. That might work. No, on second thought, it might cause the person to fall over, and they might be allergic to nylon.
So, why not just set phasers on "stun." No, because there may be some persons who will react poorly to being stunned. After all, a phaser is just a 23rd century taser (they even sound alike).
Fact is, there is no 100% sure-fire, works-every-time, never-a-hitch way of subduing someone who's gone berserk, or, as we like to say, postal.
So, instead of carping, I'd suggest we thank the police for putting themselves in harm's way for us, and suggest, oh so gently, that they are thoroughly trained in using the devices. And, oh, we can remind the manufacturers that they need to tell us where and where not to nail people.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tasering wild people

My local paper had a letter to the editor today taking the police to task for tasering an individual who subsequently died. It's a complicated story which the letter-writer simplified into something like oatmeal without raisins. A taser is one of those hand-held jobs that shoots barbs into you and then jolts you with about 750,000 volts (or something in there) so that you don't want to fight any more.
The letter writer was, fairly predictably, upset that the brutal cops had used the taser on a guy who had committed no crime except to get naked and go crazy. Some points:
1) The taser was developed as a humane way to control out-of-control people. It was seen as a much better alternative to beating the skull in with a truncheon or shooting holes in people. It serves another purpose; it keeps the cops from being kicked, punched, scratched, bitten, spit upon (or worse), bled on, or stabbed as they arrest someone totally out of control.
2) The taser has been remarkably effective in doing what it was designed to do. It has saved countless lives (both perps and cops) in tense standoffs.
3) The notion of "humane" is a moving target. That is, the definition changes, as it has for instance, with "cruel and unusual punishment." Apparently, "humane" now means, "With no adverse affects at all on the recipient," instead of "non-lethal and with no lasting harm."
So, when the letter writer blithely sanctions the police, said writer (who has almost certainly never been in a situation where a taser is necessary), is ignoring the most important aspect of the tasering -- the context in which it takes place. The writer is saying, "You must preserve law and order, and you gotta take the bad guys in, but if anybody is going to get hurt, it should be you."
If I ever go amok, I hope that the police have the kindness to taser me instead of simply shooting me out of hand.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Love that top down control

Now I'm really steamed. I read a report in the local paper that some university in Colorado instituted a "no concealed weapons on campus" policy. Now, I'm not a gun nut; don't own a single assault weapon, but the whole tenor of the thing bothers me, for a couple of reasons.
First, what is it about liberals that they don't want people to be able to defend themselves? The reasons they give are pathetic. One is, "The police are there to protect you." That's false on two counts (Oh, oh, I'm getting buried in lists here). The first reason it's false is that, legally, the police are not, in fact, there to protect you. Oh, sure, they will if it happens to be convenient, but if they were really legally required to protect us, we could sue if they don't. If you don't believe me, just ask a jurist who will be honest with you. The second reason it's false is because they just aren't there to protect you most of the time. They're out giving tickets or eating doughnuts. You're on your own.
The second reason liberals give for taking away our means of protecting us is the old, "You can't take the law into your own hands," argument. Actually, we can. The law provides that we can use even deadly force to protect ourselves and those close to us.
Second reason I'm steamed: The university is both targeting the wrong folk and exposing them to danger. A "no gun" zone is, as I've mentioned before, a huge flashing sign to nutcases that says, "C'mon in with your AK47. There's no opposition. Shoot at will for 15 or 20 minutes until the fuzz get organized." (A cop told me that one) And, the argument that regular people with guns will shoot up the place is ludicrous. In my town, every tenth person carries a concealed weapon, and no one knows who is packing and who is not. Those people who have gone to the trouble of learning the laws of weapons and have qualified at the shooting range and the least likely to fire a shot in anger.
But reality has never made much of an impact on political stances.