Why the ‘Citizen Militia’ Theory Is the Worst Pro-Gun Argument Ever – The Atlantic.

The notion that an individual right to bear arms guarantees the American people against government tyranny is of course an old one. Given its apparent validation in the Second Amendment of the Constitution itself, it’s not surprising that the notion has survived in some way through to the 21st century. Given its defiance of history and common sense, though, what should be surprising is that it’s survived to remain so widespread.

If America experienced a widespread political uprising today, it would bear little resemblance to Lexington and Concord in 1775, with well-disciplined minutemen assembling on the town square to defend liberty against the redcoats. It would more likely be a larger scale reenactment of the “Bleeding Kansas” revolt of 1854 to 1861, when small bands of armed zealots unleashed an orgy of inter-communal violence, unbounded…

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Raw Sewage

I genuinely cannot explain it. For some reason, every time I sit down or even think about sitting down and writing something, an overwhelming fatigue overcomes me and I just don’t want to do it. This is not something I’ve experienced before. I’m not sure what is going on.

I have for several weeks now been practicing doing things even when I don’t want to or when doing something would be unpleasant. I have concluded that I have gradually become so accustomed to avoiding discomfort to the point that I wasn’t doing much of anything at all. I could not point to the reason behind my apathy, then while reading a book on mindfulness and meditation and connecting emotion to the body, etc., I realized that this is what I had been doing, avoiding discomfort. And so, in an effort to beat back this pattern, I am making an effort to proceed with whatever I must do, whether it is unpleasant or not. I observe the unpleasantness and proceed anyway. I have been running so regularly that I can’t help but notice the increase in my stamina. I have never, even when I was competitive, been so regular about running in my life. When it comes time to run, no matter how tired I feel, or how much I don’t want to do it, I simply observe that I am feeling this way and then do it anyway. Quite a useful tool. And this writing now is an extension of that. For whatever reason, the thought of writing has been bogging me down rather than lifting me up and so I haven’t done it. Then I caught myself and now here I am.

So last Wednesday our basement floor drain filled with water.  Then it filled even more. There was a quite large puddle and it was taking up a good deal of space around the washer and dryer. I called a plumber who, based on my description of things, thought it would be a simple matter of snaking the drain. He came out to snake the drain. In the meantime, I had given my 3-year-old a bath. This had caused the puddle to increase further, heading into danger territory towards carpets and whatnots. The increase in water caused the plumber consternation. It should not have been happening. It was going to require some water removal. It was going to cost more.

His partner showed up to help and the two of them began working. They started snaking the drain where it seemed at first that the clog was located. This did not work. They ran the snake out as far as it would go. Nothing. They then went to the line that fed into the main sewer line. This caused me further consternation because my sewer line is new; it was just replaced in June last summer. It should not have problems of this magnitude.

As he began to snake the line, the water began to rise. My dismay increased. The water was nasty. It smelled. It was straight from the sewer. My daughter’s room is on the other side of the wall of the laundry room. I went in and observed just how much junk she had shoved against the wall. I called her and told her to help evacuate.

The plumbers had to run the snake line out fifty feet to hit anything. The snake dragged back some weird rags, the likes of which the plumber claimed he had never seen in two decades of plumbing. Out with the snake, up went the water, back with the snake covered in greasy rags. As the water rose, so did my dismay, but there was nothing I could do except watch.

“This is vandalism,” the plumber told me. “There is no explanation for this. Do you have any enemies?” No, I really don’t. There is no one I can think of who would vandalize me. He told me stories of things he had seen, told me what you can do to someone you really want to hurt. I had no idea. Revenge is such a primitive desire, one that serves so little a purpose except perhaps a fleeting feeling of retribution, but then what?

The plumber advised I call my homeowner’s insurance. I went upstairs. I made the call. I didn’t know anything yet, but they gave me a claim number. I puttered around. I could not wash dishes. I couldn’t focus on my book. Isabel came down to see, then went back upstairs to nap. I kept the dog from running down to wade in the cesspool.

It wasn’t until the eighth run that the water began to recede. They snaked again, and again, ten times total. They explained mitigation. They called the number for someone to come and clean. They gave me a very large bill, a very, very large bill. Even discounted $100 because he felt really bad about what was happening, the bill was still enormous.

Shortly after the plumber left, the mitigator came. He explained how they would remove part of the carpet, tear up the walls that were damaged, clean everything to standards set by the Center for Disease Control. Our basement was crawling in sewage. Nasty, toxic, bacteria filled the bottom of our home. They would need a day to clean it all. He bagged up the worst of the carpet, then set up machines to suck moisture. A long tube ran from Milla’s room, across the basement, and back to the now empty drain. Until today, this machine kept pumping water. The following day another man came to clean and move and tear apart, then set up massive drying fans that will probably cost me a fortune in electricity.

This was nearly a week ago. Then yesterday at work, my daughter called me in a panic. She was home from school sick, and water was coming up the drain again. Water and tissue. Oh holy fuck. Seriously?

I called the plumber again. His wife told me I needed to have it scoped. They could come snake again, but I had to figure out what was going on. To do this, a camera would be shoved down the sewer line and hopefully see what was going on. I called the camera company. They arranged to come today, bright and early. At 7:50 Tuesday morning, a man knocked on my door. I was busy getting ready for work, getting baby ready to go to see her daddy, hollering at Milla to get her bottom moving. After fifteen minutes the man had a verdict: the line was clogged on the city’s side. It was their responsibility.

This means, I suppose, that my pockets should be relined again with the large sums of money that have been removed. This would be nice. What a long, exhausting week. In addition to the sewage backup, both girls had colds with fevers. No fun, but life isn’t always fun. In fact I think life mostly isn’t fun, interspersed with occasional fun. C’est la vie. That is how it is.

Mato's Blog

The following text started as a reply to a comment and as it grew and grew I decided to publish it as a blog post.

Dear Pamela, thank you for your comment!

I completely agree with your citation of “noli illegitimi carborundum” (don’t let the bastards grind you down), but I don’t share your opinion that it doesn’t matter how much we simplify our lives and that it doesn’t matter how little we have chosen to consume.

It is correct that the idiots who continue to waste the dwindling resources will not be impressed by examples of a modest and sustainable lifestyle. But they are depending on various social, political, economic networks and distribution systems which only function when a certain part of the population is willing to participate.

If enough people drop out of these systems and create their own local organizations the old economic, political, and…

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Undergoing Modification

I made Christmas presents this year. This is not unusual for me; I’ve made them for the last 8 or 9 years at least. There are many reasons for this. First and foremost is that I want to get off the consumer merry-go-round that are western holidays. I also want to raise my children to understand the meaning behind the holidays, that it is about the connection with friends and loved ones rather than rampant shopping and spending. I want them to realize there is much more satisfaction in giving a gift that you spent time creating, putting in that time, and then having it come together, than there is wandering fluorescent aisles searching for something made in China along with a million other somethings made there. Finally, it does help to save somewhat, although the materials for everything I have ever made have not been cheap.

Over the years we have made many gifts. A couple of years ago we made candles. This was a great project to share with Milla. She loved improving her candle-making skills. We spent time together over several days crafting a variety of candles out of beeswax. It was a lot of work. Other years we have made candy and baked goods. We have made soap, and bottled bath oils. That was fun. Once the presents are made, I love wrapping them up in tissue and ribbon, presenting them beautifully.

This year I decided I would make scarves. Milla and I went together to the fabric store and chose some lovely crushed velvet in a variety of colors. For some, we chose some embellishments for the ends of the scarves to jazz them up. Milla really enjoyed this part of it. She likes decorating things. The two of us worked hard on the scarves. Milla helped a lot, and also made choices about which scarves should have decorations on them. Some of them had such beautiful fabric that any froufrou would have taken away from the scarves themselves. Milla loved having the sewing machine running all the time. She also made some incredibly beautiful little satin tie bags. I was impressed with her abilities. She has been taking sewing in school and I had no idea how much she had learned.

Then we gave the gifts. The anti-climax. The grave disappointment.

Gradually over the last several years, I have felt increasingly disenchanted with the reception our gifts have received. One friend in particular seems almost offended that we give her a handmade gift. In return one year she gave me an item she had obviously received for free at some sort of employer function. Amazingly, almost none of the recipients thank us. This year only one showed any real gratitude and commented on how difficult it must have been to make her scarf.

I haven’t been making these gifts hoping for gushing gratitude and admiration. In fact, such platitudes would make me very uncomfortable. But it is so disappointing when the receivers are offended or completely indifferent, especially when, like these scarves, I honestly chose to make a gift I thought they would enjoy. After so many years of the reactions we have gotten, I tried to make gifts that I really thought they would like. I chose colors I knew each person loved. I chose styles that matched them. After their reactions, it makes me wonder why I should even bother. (I can write all of this without impunity or concern that these people will see this as digging for compliments because none of my friends read my blog.)

I have been embarking on a transformation of sorts over the last few years. One thing I have come to understand about myself is that I have consistently chosen non-reciprocal relationships, not only love relationships, but friendships too. In the past I have chosen people who don’t want me as much as I want them. This was the dynamic in my family and I repeated it. I’m such a cliche’ and I get it. Interestingly, as I have realized this about myself, I have made different choices, and I’m managing to develop some friendships that are not like this. But it is hard. Finding new friends is not easy. To alleviate this, I’m actively seeking out activities where I might meet other people. I read once that our peak opportunities for making friends are in school and when our children are little. I’m past school. Isabel is still little so I suppose there is still that possibility once she goes to school.

In any case, I want something to be different. It is hugely disappointing to spend hours making a gift for someone only to have it received with absolute indifference. Maybe I need to make friends who also make their gifts, and for the same reason. Really I want something different in more than just this, and I’m getting there. Sometimes I wish it would happen just a little sooner, that’s all.

Can Someone Please Help Me With This Letter?

Dear Ms. Gardner,
We regret to inform you that, despite our previous assurances to the contrary, we will not be able to return your brain.  Unfortunately, your brain was part of a shipment of brains that was lost at sea over the Bermuda Triangle, a region of the northwestern Atlantic Ocean in which a number of aircraft and surface vessels have disappeared in what are said to be circumstances that fall beyond the boundaries of human error or acts of nature.  As you may know, some of these disappearances have been attributed to the paranormal, a suspension of the laws of physics, or activity by extraterrestrial beings.  Although substantial documentation exists showing numerous incidents to have been inaccurately reported or embellished by later authors, there is no doubt that many ships and airplanes have been lost in the area.

As is often the case in the place just described, the plane carrying your brain simply disappeared off any radar.  Despite extensive searches and radio calls, we have been unable to make contact with the aircraft, its crew, or the items on board.  In fact, one search plane was also lost in the process.

We sincerely apologize for this egregious error.  We realize now that in attempting to save time by crossing this area of the Atlantic Ocean in order to decrease costs and thereby increase profits, we have created a huge liability for ourselves.  Our only hope is that because it was your brain that was lost, you will now lack the intelligence to realize the error was ours (despite this letter) and do nothing against us in retaliation or to mitigate your loss.  We also offer our condolences; a deficit of this magnitude must be quite distressing.  We certainly understand how you must be feeling right now, even without your limbic system.  There must be some awareness on your part that something is, well, missing.

As evidence of our sincerest and deepest sympathy, we would like to offer you this $10 gift certificate to Amazon.com.  It is our hope that you will be able to locate a nice children’s book or some other fine gift befitting the current state of your intelligence.  Perhaps a book on the alphabet or counting will allow you to find work at a telephone control center or at customer service for a credit card company.  In fact, we would be willing to put you in touch with our affiliates in these areas should you require assistance in becoming gainfully employed.  Additionally, we would also like to provide you with this gift of a handsome wallet for your identification and in some cases, pizza.

Again, please accept our apologies.  And have a happy holiday.  Thank you so much.


Brain Restoration Services, LLC

Dear Brain Restoration Services, LLC;
I so much appreciated your letter.  Your kindness in letting me know that my brain had been lost in the Bermuda Triangle, and then your further kindness in offering me the $10 gift certificate and possible assistance with employment were both truly above and beyond the call of duty.  I accept the Amazon certificate, by the way, and look forward to locating a book I can now read (as reading has become somewhat difficult in the weeks since losing my brain).  I would like to take this opportunity to thank those who have been helping me in all areas, including reading, feeding, and wiping drool from my chin.  Without you I may actually have drowned.  Much gratitude also to my cousin for typing this letter on my behalf.

I would beg your further kindness, if at all possible.  Unfortunately, Amazon does not carry drool rags.  I searched their site high and low (again with the assistance of friends and family) and was unable to locate one in my price range.  I did locate a towel designed by a famous designer (his name escapes me at the moment–a not uncommon occurrence these days), only this towel was both quite large and quite expensive.  It was not really suitable for my needs.  I would prefer something absorbent that will withstand frequent washings.  Actually, two or three would be most suitable so I have something to use whilst my soiled rags are being laundered.

I also would like to inquire whether you are aware if others who lost their brains in this unfortunate incident might like to get together, not for a support group, but to play.  I think it would be quite enjoyable to build things with blocks or stack plastic rings with one another.  Our caretakers may even be able to trade ideas on dealing with the excess drool and, um, issues surrounding personal hygiene.  I have been made to understand that diaper changing on adults is rather difficult, as you may imagine.

Again, I so appreciate your thoughtfulness and hope this letter finds you well.  I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Yours sincerely,

Lara Gardner


Donkey down google maps

This is just unbelievable. Fox has been spending time on a story claiming a Google street-view car in Botswana hit and killed a donkey. And insisting that further photos Google had sent to some news media did not make sense and implying that they may have been faked.

So Google has released actual footage showing the full series of events: A truck coming the opposite way putting up a cloud of dust. The donkey (unhit by the other vehicle) going down on the ground and rolling around a bit. The Google car stopping and waiting. The donkey getting up and ambling off. The google car driving off.

Hmmm- maybe Fox should have named themselves after another anmal… Jack-Ass news sounds about right for that network…

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I had a most bizarre conversation the other day with a friends father who was visiting. He’s a tea-partier, and a grain farmer. The conversation took place at a local coffee shop with a large and social outdoor area that is a community gathering place.

So…in the hour or two we sat there he started going into his practiced tirade…damn liberal Californians, damn takers, look at all these people here they should be at work actually making something…contributing damnit.

Never mind that I knew probably 80% of the people there or who passed through. People that owned local businesses. An author. A rather famous musician. A number of legal marijuana growers enjoying the brief period of the year when they can largely make their own schedules and reconnect with friends that they don’t get to see during the many brutal months of the seasons. The same for the vineyard, olive…

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