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I've been meaning to post this since I heard it, but I hate typing in long URLs. It might be of interest given the recent discussion, since it's about how American gun culture turned so weird -- told by Ryan Busse, a gun company insider who turned against the industry because of said cultural changes. (Though he stresses he still hunts and shoots for sport, and teaches his children likewise.) It was the Nov. 22, 2021 episode of the public radio program Fresh Air. Mr. Busse has written a book about it, called "Gunfight."

 

https://www.npr.org/programs/fresh-air/2021/11/22/1057244756/fresh-air-for-nov-22-2021-gunfight-author-ryan-busse?showDate=2021-11-22

 

In brief: The change was engineered by the NRA and some rather strange fanatics in the gun industry.

 

Dean Shomshak

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And now for something completely different.

 

I recommend an article called "The Power of Agroecology" from the November, 2021 Scentific American. Agroecology is about as complete a departure from current commercial agriculture as one can imagine, being developed among the poorest of Third World farmers; the article deals particularly with some villages in northern Malawi. Instead of gigantic fields growing just one variety of just one crop, drenched in fertilizers and pesticides, it's an approach for small farms with crops chosen for local soil and weather conditions, often with multicropping so the crops assist each other -- particularly using legumes such as beans or peanuts to put nitrogen into the soil. Which sounds a lot like "How farming was done before industrial farming was invented," except the farmers have access to varietals from around the world, and have scientific agronomists to help them assess the results of their agricultural experiments. Most of the knowledge gained, though, comes from the experiments of the farmers themselves. The Malawi project has already shown that this approach can enrich soils instead of depleting them, improve locals' nutrition (especially among the young -- Malawi suffers terribly from childhood malnutrition), and create agricultural surplus that can be sold, enhancing the local economy as well as each family. It also uses less water and other resources.

 

So what does this have to do with politics? Everything. Author Raj Patel argues that extreme poverty in Malawi and other Third World countries is created and maintained politically -- particularly by international lenders such as the IMF and World Bank. The money loaned to develop economies must be paid back with interest... and countries are expected to get that money by growing cash crops for export, instead of food for their own people. Any profis are also immediately sucked out by paying for chemical fertilizer and other tools of agribusiness. And demands soon arise for "austerity" in domestic expenditure to make sure the loans get repaid.

 

To be fair, Patel does not specifically and openly call this out as a vicious scam to keep the Third World poor and dependent. He notes in passing a "colonial savior" mentality, that poor brown people cannot possibly be enriched except through integration into the financial and technological infrastructure of the developed world.

 

Now imagine what happens if countries such as Malawi go all in on agroecology, feeding their own people instead of selling cash crops to buy food from abroad. No buying foreign food and fertilizer means more money stays in country, whether for other services or for loan repayment. OTOH, if the people are developing their food supply and the rest of tdheir economy by themselves, they might not need more loans. Might even wonder why they should repay loans already made. And a government might have extra incentive to do this if the village co-ops producing the food surplus start asking what they are getting from the central government. Power relationships could shift from village scale to internationally.

 

The power shifts extend even down to the family level. Agroecology does require more time spent farming. In northern Malawi, women do most of the farming, as well as cooking, child-rearing and other home maintenance. To make more time for farming, first men must take a larger share (i.e., any) of household chores. Traditional patriarchy has been one of the trickiest problems, but Patel says the experimenters have found solutions.

 

One of the participants summarizes thus: Women can teach men, Black people can teach white people, the poopr can teach the rich." The potential goes far beyond just an agricultural revolution.

 

Dean Shomshak

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The climate conspiracy video is interesting, but we shouldn't be at all surprised that Big Oil is behind it.  Their playbook isn't new at all.  It's Big Tobacco's playbook.  And it was VERY successful for a very long time.  Sure, it failed in the end, but tobacco smoke is an obvious problem with a core opposition that crosses most boundaries...non-smokers.  The non-smokers have a fundamental argument:  even before one proves that second hand smoke damages health, it's CLEARLY a nuisance.  So the first steps were some local bans;  the first major step was when in-flight smoking was banned on domestic flights less than 2 hours long.  That was 1988.  Of note:  the first warnings were from Britain in 1951, then the Surgeon General's warning in 1964.  And note that even then, the Surgeon General's warning was very weakly phrased.  Ah...ok, arguably the first big success was banning smoking ads on TV.  That was 1971.  But considering NASCAR's title sponsor was Winston?  And other similar ads, plus full back cover, or front inside cover, ads?  The ban was not that effective.

 

The video shows the rhetorical shift...it's no longer practical to try to deny the science.  That corresponds to the proof that smokers have increased risks...the stronger wordings on the warnings moved to this, where "may" got changed to "are known to."  So Big Tobacco switched to second-hand smoke...oh, it wasn't that bad, it didn't increase risk.  And they held that line for a long time.  Big Oil has a better 2nd string:  the economic argument.  That's a compellingly SCARY argument...and one that's inherently nebulous.  It's too easy to cook the numbers to say whatever you want them to say, by controlling assumptions.  And how often are the "studies" really challenged anyway?

 

And now, of course, the technical disinformation gets married to the right-wing political echo chamber, where the goal isn't stasis per se, it's just denying the libs ANY successes.  Climate change denial's anti-science tactics were lifted for coronavirus denial.  And we know how successful that's been.  They also reinforce each other, as a cornerstone of both is to discredit the science that doesn't serve the message.  Just as the evidence of climate change benefits from a preponderance of evidence...so does science denial.

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6 hours ago, DShomshak said:

I've been meaning to post this since I heard it, but I hate typing in long URLs.

 

I don't know if you were aware of this little trick, but on most web browsers, if you open up the page you want and then left-click your cursor on the address at the top of the window, it will highlight the whole address. You can then Copy the address, either using the Copy command from a drop-down menu in the top toolbar or a key command like Ctrl+C, and Paste it into your text by clicking the cursor on the spot in the text field you want, and then clicking Paste (or Ctrl+V on my browser).

 

I've rarely had to type in a URL in over a decade. ;)

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10 hours ago, unclevlad said:

The climate conspiracy video is interesting, but we shouldn't be at all surprised that Big Oil is behind it.

 

The problem is that everyone has an agenda, and someone has to pay for every research study. If it does not say what we want, we won't publicize it, nor will we pay for another. If there's some stuff we like, and some we don't, we'll cherry pick what we reference. "We can't have dirty oil running through pipelines".  Sounds good.  Can you manage without oil, or do you want to heat your home and drive?  So with no pipeline, we have to ship it some other way.  Like trucks, that add more emissions to the equation.  Or by sea, from foreign countries, many of whom are not so picky about environmental impact.

 

How many times have you heard a report that red wine, in moderation, is healthy?  The wine industry likes that.

 

Many years ago, I heard ONE report on a study that showed the benefits come from the grape skin being left on for red, but not white. You did not need red wine - grape juice with the skin left on was just as healthy.   But who wants to hear that? We want a reason to drink red wine, and the wine industry wants to sell red wine, so the wine reports get publicized.

 

Digging down to the reality is not easy,, and it has been made even more challenging as our population's attention span dwindles to a couple hundred characters.  Read BEYOND the first screen? How can you ask so much of me?

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12 hours ago, Lord Liaden said:

 

I don't know if you were aware of this little trick, but on most web browsers, if you open up the page you want and then left-click your cursor on the address at the top of the window, it will highlight the whole address. You can then Copy the address, either using the Copy command from a drop-down menu in the top toolbar or a key command like Ctrl+C, and Paste it into your text by clicking the cursor on the spot in the text field you want, and then clicking Paste (or Ctrl+V on my browser).

 

I've rarely had to type in a URL in over a decade. ;)

Until recently, I was Googling articles, copying the link from the page of search results, then pasting the link. That stopped working a couple months ago. I don't know why: whether something changed in my computer, AOHell, Google, the forum, or the will of the Great God Oom. Thank you for the suggestion; I'll give that a try. I had indeed never heard of it. Me big tech dummy, and I stopped even looking for "Help" files when so many of them were useless or worse than useless.

 

Dean Shomshak

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And those anonymous corp goon Help files are wholly inadequate if you are trying to navigate a willfully deceptive site, structured to make it difficult to do anything other than buy the most expensive possible option.  Like the site of a certain college textbook publisher.

 

Possibly relevant for some discussions that have been put temporarily in abeyance: Deaths to police in 17 states back around 2010.  Refereed journal paper.  The site is the National Institute of Health library.

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There's a very simple poll that would, I suspect, have very disturbing results.

 

Has a mass shooting incident happened at either:

a)  a location you've been

b)  a location near to you that you haven't been to, but been reasonably close to, and could choose to go to

c)  a location you've passed by

 

Yes, yes, and yes.

Columbine High School...almost certain I'd have been there a couple times in HS 

The El Paso Wal-Mart shooting...never there specifically, but I have been in Cielo Vista Mall, which is nearby, and did shop occasionally in EP.  

Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas.  It's WAY down south on the Strip, but I've passed it a few times taking the bus down to the outlet mall a bit further down the strip.

 

My gut feeling is, way, way too many people could say Yes to...say...at least the 2nd.  The 3rd is getting pretty nebulous.

 

OH...#4 (!!!!)  The Table Mesa King Soopers shooting in Boulder.  Shopped there too;  went to college in Boulder, worked at the NBS facility that was a mile, mile and a half away.

 

That's....actually scary.

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People die in traffic accidents. Fires. Airline crashes. Hit by lightning. Etc. etc. Every time you cross the street or get behind the wheel of your car, you run the risk of dying. That's far more likely than, in any large urban area, you'll happen to be in the exact place at the exact time someone starts shooting. But people tend to feel that, because they do routine things every day, those activities are inherently safe. Events that are unusual frighten us disproportionately.

 

I've often visited a shopping mall in my home city where a high-profile multiple shooting occurred, quite a few years ago now. The odds of my being in serious danger there are so low, I never thought twice about going back.

 

I was mugged at gunpoint many years ago. It made me very uncomfortable walking the streets alone at night, for months. But since then I remain aware of my surroundings, and it's never happened to me again.

 

I think I may have been one of the few people who wasn't shocked by the attack on the World Trade Center. Saddened, but not shocked. It was no surprise. That sort of thing can happen to any of us, anywhere and anytime. But it won't happen to most of us in our lifetimes.

 

The people who commit acts of terror want to make us afraid. They want us to stop living our lives. You can't give them control of you, because if you take reasonable precautions the odds are very much in your favor.

 

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