When will they learn?

I don’t think the Democrats will ever understand how to reach out to people who live in rural America, but I also don’t think that rural America is reachable with current communications methods and legislation put in place by Republicans.

Well, let’s try this again

I’ve re-installed the files for my site, so I’m hoping this will fix everything for awhile. The site was infiltrated by somebody(ies) with some really interesting scripts. I had to dump everything, clean the directories out, and set it up again. We’ll see what happens!

My FB Posts about Firearms

Following is everything I’ve written on FaceBook that isn’t a response to someone.

As I mentioned below, I don’t think we can look at a problem by immediately brushing aside a potential solution. Everything needs to be reviewed, even whether the 2nd amendment still makes sense. If we approach this issue already discounting potential avenues of exploration, we run the risk of solving symptoms rather than the disease itself.

Do we as a society have the courage to do that? From what I’ve seen, we don’t.


Sorry, but nobody is told that humans are descended from apes, and if someone is saying that, then they should reread evolutionary biology. Humans and apes share a common ancestor, which is not the same as descendence. Even still, apes don’t murder each other and as far as we know, they don’t have religion, so maybe this is not the best argument for you to use.

Early christians did commit infanticide (and still commit genocide, homicide, child rape, etc), though, so that’s something.


I think that in order to solve these issues, we need to be willing to question everything, including what the 2nd amendment means to us as a society. There are far-reaching ethical ramifications of a slavish worship of anything, and if we want to break this increasingly prevalent cycle, we need to accept that.

Putting more burden on the shoulders of teachers to be on the frontline of reporting suspicious behavior (as I read your suggestion) is not appropriate. Adding armed guards to schools in the presence of children is not appropriate. The safety of a citizenry starts with the society in which they live, and that society needs to take seriously that safety. I don’t think we do, as a whole.

First, we need to allow the CDC to study issues of gun violence so that we can determine the causes. Second, we need to be a lot more careful about who can get what firearms. Third, we need to really ask ourselves if we need to own guns, as a society. Seriously. Is it a need like food, shelter, fuel, or water are. Fourth — and this is fundamental — we must start looking at these issues ethically — not religiously, politically, or socially — and allow ourselves to understand how our worship of the 2nd amendment is deeply connected to who we are as a society. What causes that worship, what are the results of it, what things in our culture does that worship limit and influence: these are the questions we need to look at.


What if instead of shootings, the news was that there have been multiple instances of children dying after downloading a smartphone app. Would anyone advocate for the continued sale and use of that app? Would anyone argue for responsible app use?

Hey, are you against access by children to the dark web, but are unwilling to ban guns after multiple school shootings? Why is that?


This is a sentence that had to be written today: “[A mother] told CNN that her daughter safely evacuated the school and took shelter at a nearby Walmart.” It’s at least the 12th time this year that a sentence like that had to be written. That means that AT LEAST TWELVE TIMES someone has SHOT at CHILDREN with the intent to kill.

I don’t want new regulations on gun ownership, and I don’t want limits on possession. I want guns destroyed. We can fight wars with aircraft and swords. Hunt with bow and arrow or crossbows. Target practice with BBs. This shit just needs to fucking stop. There is literally no argument or excuse for gun ownership as long as this keeps happening.


I’m out. Here’s where I’m at on this gun ownership thing. I see it as an ethical issue in the same way that standing by while genocide is committed is an ethical issue. Advocates of the NRA and of blind adherence to the 2nd amendment are making it possible for children to be gunned down in school. That’s the reality at this point. If after a school shooting you believe that a) we need more guns in school, or b) that our gun laws don’t need to be changed, or c) that guns don’t kill people, you are culpable in those children’s deaths. You need to come to terms with the reality that the thing you are defending is destroying our society. If you don’t believe me, let me know and I’ll map out the causal loops that prove it.

NB: Facebook doesn’t have an emoticon for feeling Fucking Pissed and DIsillusioned.

367 days later

Donald Trump’s rise to power is not the story of the success of one man over and above all others, but rather the story of the rise of a system beneath a system, lurking in the depths of the United States. In order to find meaning in Trump’s election, we must explore those murky depths from which he was, very literally, spawned. (ed. I wrote this about a year ago, but never published it. I’m leaving it here now as-is for the sake of completeness.)

This morning, I was thinking about an article published in The Washington Post. In the article written by Brian Schaffner and Samantha Luks, a study is described in which 1,388 American adults were asked two questions. First, to identify which picture of the Washington Mall filled with people goes with which inauguration. Second, to ask which of the same pictures had more people in it. Each question was asked of half the participants. For full details, check out the article here. The result of the survey was that 41% of the people who voted for Trump associated the wrong picture with his inauguration, and 15% of the people who voted for trump said that the picture with fewer people in it had more people. While the results are not psychologically surprising, as Schaffner and Luks point out, they do indicate that perhaps there is more going on here than party loyalty and Trump fandom, as much as Trump would have us believe otherwise.

In his book The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell describes how every idea that has caught the public’s eye or entered the Zeitgeist of thought was at some point thought of as absurd, as impossible, or as pointless. The tipping point, Gladwell says, is that point in the development of a product where it starts to gain ground. Where the number of people who think of it as a good idea begin to increase and gain ground against the naysayers. Common examples, of course, are the automobile, telephone, electricity, personal computer, portable music players, etc. Every idea has a tipping point. It just takes the right environment to reach there. Gladwell is speaking primarily here of entrepreneurial ideas, of business and/or product improvement. But, another writer, Thomas S. Kuhn, has written about a similar phenomenon in the annals of science.

Kuhn’s book The Scientific Revolution discusses how revolutionary scientific ideas gain ground. He hypothesizes that a radical idea will first surface, say for example Copernicus’ idea that the earth revolves around the sun. The idea and the purveyor of it are initial discredited, ridiculed, and isolated from society. At some point, however, the idea gains ground through other similarly-minded individuals and a Galileo and a Tycho Brae bring it forward for further study and inclusion in the conversation. At some point, a certain percentage of the general population begins to accept the new idea. Once that happens, it becomes reality. This is very similar to Gladwell’s idea, and it has held up to some scrutiny.

Both Gladwell’s and Kuhn’s theories are based in systems thinking and attempt to quantify — inasmuch as possible — the nature of emergent activities, information, and beliefs. And to that extent, they are very powerful methods by which we can attempt to understand how the world around us works, and what might be causing the kinds of things we observe every day that don’t seem to make sense. In systems thinking, the observation of the immediate must be combined with analysis of the events preceding it.

Don’t worry, all of this will lead to Trump’s emergence, though I’m betting that a few of you are there already. I have one more reference point to bring in, though, a little-known book called Systemantics: They Systems Bible by John Gall. In this book, Gall lists and explains a number of mantras about systems that he and other systems thinkers and observers of complexity have discovered over the years to be consistently true. Most relevant to the discussion here is the mantra “TO THOSE WITHIN A SYSTEM, THE OUTSIDE REALITY TENDS TO PALE AND DISAPPEAR” (Gall, 2012). The results of The Washington Posts’s article from this morning is perfectly explained by this mantra.

The system becomes the manner in which things are accomplished, communicated, and understood. Once the system becomes large enough — and they always do if left unattended — it traps people within it so that the only understanding people have of the world is through the system itself. Think of the parable of Plato’s cave, but in this case the cave is traveling around the world, gobbling people up and expanding as it does so. It’s a metaphorical way of understanding both Gladwell and Kuhn, really. How is it that a tipping point is accomplished? How is it that a 10% – 12% acceptance of something will become close to 100% acceptance. Gall’s mantra lends some understanding to this.

In Kuhn’s terms, Trump is the heliocentric model of the universe that strikes most people as so far-fetched that it’s impossible. He is Gladwell’s iPod. Enough people believe in Trump that he has caught on, and is either in the apex of or passing his tipping point. Couple these with Gall’s mantra that reality outside the Trump system is disappearing, and we end up with a president whose staff releases alternative facts, whose supporters insist that the emptier photo has more people, and on and on and on. The system is winning, as it always does when left to its own devices.

So for those of us who want to fight against this, how do we do it? Trump has proven to be surprisingly resilient and resistant to revelations on his character, his business dealings, and his conflicts of interest. Accusations of nepotism, favoritism, and pandering go unnoticed. All previously-effective methods of political undermining have failed. The system that manifested him doesn’t care about racism, bigotry, or oppression as long as it gets what it wants, which seems to be a combination of ultra-nationalist capitalism and far-right racial, gender, and moral oppression.

Proud of my alma mater

Yesterday, Johnson State College raised flags in support of Black Lives Matter and the LGBTQ+ communities. At a time when there needs to be unified voices rising against bigotry and hatred, the gesture is extremely important, if symbolic. JSC is already an inclusive and safe campus, but to take this action now is to reaffirm that commitment. Having been an undergrad, grad student, and now an alumni with a wife and son attending, I’m proud and honored to be associated with JSC.