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May 25, 2021

Comments

End the War on Drugs. Demilitarize the US police. Shift regulation to a community safety/training based model and limit the number of firearms (6 or so, with more allowed with caveats)and rounds of ammunition that any one person can have, and license them all. Get as many of those firearms/rounds as possible out of individual residences. Build a fucking social safety net to reduce desperation, and make anyone with a domestic violence charge have to keep their firearms off-premises.

civil asset forfeiture

One of those rare topics where, I suspect, everyone here would be united. In opposition.

At most, some might argue that there are some few instances where it is useful. But no question that the abuses outweigh the utility.

end the war on drugs and repeal other victimless crime laws that bring people into conflict with each other and the police.

No disagreement from me on this.

What I would like to see is a scatter chart that has firearms per capita on one axis and firearm deaths per capita on the other axis to get an idea of which countries do the best job of regulating their firearms.

I matched Gun Ownership By Country 2021 against Gun Deaths By Country 2021 and got 76 countries.

There's a very weak to no correlation. In a chart with the X-axis representing gun possession rate and the Y-axis representing firearm-related deaths, most of the dots are jumbled in the lower left-hand corner. Near the Y-axis there is a column of nine dots representing countries that have a high firearm death rate in spite of supposedly not having many guns. And then there's the US way over to the lower right.

civil asset forfeiture

Yes. A terrible policy as it is routinely applied to the poor and not rich criminals who, if this policy were to be applied uniformly, should be reduced to penury prior to trial. But you know, rich and poor alike are free to sleep under bridges.

"Did you know police can just take your stuff if they suspect it's involved in a crime? They can! It’s a shady process called “civil asset forfeiture,” and it would make for a weird episode of Law and Order."
Civil Forfeiture: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) (YouTube)

There's a very weak to no correlation.

I wasn't trying to see if there was a correlation. I was trying to locate a cluster of nation states with fairly high firearms ownership per capita and fairly low firearms related deaths per capita. The idea was to look to those nation states to see if there was any commonality in how they regulated firearm ownership.

One should note, Ferguson MO, where early protests took place
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferguson_unrest

was a hotbed for asset forfeiture
https://www.marketplace.org/2015/03/05/ferguson-operates-police-department-profit-center/

What goes around comes around, despite the inability for people to notice it.

I was trying to locate a cluster of nation states with fairly high firearms ownership per capita and fairly low firearms related deaths per capita.

Out of the countries that have 15 or more guns per 100 people, these are the countries that have the least deaths per number of guns.

Columns:
The number of guns per 100 people.
The number of deaths per 100,000 people.
The ratio of first column/second column.

Switzerland     27.60  3.010    9.17
United States  120.50  12.210   9.87
Finland         32.40  3.250    9.97
Austria         30.00  2.900   10.34
Serbia          39.10  3.490   11.20
Greece          17.60  1.520   11.58
Portugal        21.30  1.580   13.48
Sweden          23.10  1.600   14.44
Luxembourg      18.90  1.190   15.88
Norway          28.80  1.750   16.46
Canada          34.70  2.050   16.93
Cyprus          34.00  1.870   18.18
Germany         19.60  0.990   19.80
New Zealand     26.30  1.070   24.58
Kuwait          16.70  0.360   46.39
Qatar           16.70  0.150  111.33
Iceland         31.70  0.070  452.86

The way I did the calculations, I probably should say the most guns per each death.

Since anti-burglar defence gets mentioned in the context of guns, I'd like to see numbers of how many of those burglaries happen in the absence of the owners and how many burglaries target the very guns claimed to be needed against them.
I have at least heard that a significant part of illegal guns in the US come from burgled homes (and cars). And to my knowledge, at least over here in Central Europe, the overwhelming number of burglaries happen, when no one is at home and a far smaller part when the owners are asleep and will only notice after the event.
In either case a firearm is of limited use and even among gun crazies few will boobytrap their homes with their guns to allow their most valued possesions to defend themselves (and those may well end in the headlines as "shot by own spring-gun")

Well, Switzerland should be considered an outlier, because the civil defense program means that every able bodied man has a rifle at home.

All healthy Swiss men aged between 18 and 34 are obliged to do military service and all are issued with assault rifles or pistols which they are supposed to keep at home.

Twenty years ago the Swiss militia was a sizeable force of around 600,000 soldiers. Today it is only a third of that size but until recently most former soldiers used to keep their guns after they had completed their military duties, leading to lots of weapons being stored in the attics or cupboards of private Swiss households.

https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-21379912

Not sure how that figures into the stats above.

United States 120.5

I'm sure I've seen this stat before, but it's still a bit mind-blowing. Talking about giving it more than 100%.

I think this speaks to the depth of the problem in the US. I actually don't think it's just about gun ownership.

The problem isn't that the US has more guns, the problem is that the US has more gun nuts.

Blame it on the NRA. Blame it on racism (relatedly: always interesting how quickly absolute gun rights develop qualifications when Black Panthers try to exercise them...). Blame it on the 4th amendment itself, and unhealthy narratives about how the country got started (hint: we'd still be speaking English like the Canadians do if it weren't for the timely intervention of the French Navy, but I digress.) Blame it on adulatory press coverage of mass shooters and their body counts.

Whatever it is, it's more than just a mechanical problem. I absolutely believe that there can be such a thing as a responsible gun owner. Even whole countries of them.

I'm not convinced that's possible in the US with its current attitudes. And you solve public health problems with the public attitudes you have, not the ones you wish you had.

The biggest question with this scenario is still why?...From a research perspective, this other hypothetical scenario -- the start point, the end point, the methodology -- still just doesn't make a lick of sense.

When you're engaged in a project to understand the risk of bat coronaviruses evolving to infect humans, it makes perfect sense to try to accelerate bat coronavirus evolution to see how easy it is get something which could infect humans.

If they were doing something like that, where are the preliminary papers talking about the idea? About early results? The emails to colleagues in Galveston? Etc. Requires at the very least an international conspiracy

Lab A chooses not to discuss its somewhat edgy research with Lab B until the results are in?

Certainly there some things in this hypothesis which one might judge to be rather unlikely to happen. But a Bayesian has to weigh that against the fact that the pandemic started in one of at most three cities in the world where this sort of experiment might plausibly have been taking place.

Criminals will always have guns if they want them.

the way they do in other countries where there are gun murder rates approaching zero?

there/their etc

When I look at Charles’ chart, I see the the US has way more guns per capital than anybody else and way more people killed by firearms.

I’m not sure what point Charles was trying to make, but what I take away is that more guns means more people killed with guns.

Criminals will always have guns if they want them.

i must have a gun because a criminal might have a gun because we all have guns.

i think we've found Charles' religion.

I don't suppose there's data readily available, but I'd be interested in ammunition per person as much as guns per person. A rural relative who does competitive long-range target shooting has been complaining that match-grade ammunition is out-of-stock basically everywhere.

Not sure that CharlesWT had a "point" with that last table, other than responding to a request for data.

Clearly Iceland is doing something right, with that microscopic death rate/gun. Not sure why they even *have* guns there, its not like there's much of a crime rate, or hunting. Even when the populace forced a change of government it was a "Kitchenware Revolution" in 2008, no firearms required.

Defend against a Viking invasion! Oh, wait...

Near the Y-axis there is a column of nine dots representing countries that have a high firearm death rate in spite of supposedly not having many guns [emphasis added]

That ("supposedly") being the rub.

When you're engaged in a project to understand the risk of bat coronaviruses evolving to infect humans, it makes perfect sense to try to accelerate bat coronavirus evolution to see how easy it is get something which could infect humans.

Only in those very general terms. As soon as you drill into, well, which actual techniques, what's the best way to approach this, how will we measure progress, validate our results, etc., it all kind of falls apart, at least in terms of lining up with SARS-CoV-2 specifically. Maybe there's a plausible scenario buried in there somewhere, but I haven't seen it yet.

But a Bayesian has to weigh that against the fact that the pandemic started in one of at most three cities in the world where this sort of experiment might plausibly have been taking place.

Kind of like how it would have been extraordinarily suspicious if a mosquito-borne illness had broken out near CDC HQ in Atlanta back in the day, eh?

This "suspicious" fact remains pretty much the only one we actually have. And I think it's pretty circumstantial.

Kind of like how it would have been extraordinarily suspicious if a mosquito-borne illness had broken out near CDC HQ in Atlanta back in the day, eh?

You mean it's usual to locate a facility to study something near when the phenomena occurs? Who knew?

Pro Bono, I'm curious where the other 2 cities are and why.

...one of at most three cities in the world where this sort of experiment might plausibly have been taking place.

I don't understand how you got to three. Lots of places do gain of function experiments. Lots of places work with coronaviruses. Heck, no one even keeps track of how many level-3 and level-4 biocontainment facilities there are in the US, let alone what they're all doing.

Clearly Iceland is doing something right, with that microscopic death rate/gun. Not sure why they even *have* guns there, its not like there's much of a crime rate, or hunting.

Rifles for reindeer. Shotguns for grouse and ptarmigans.

Iceland is a bit annal when it comes to guns.

Overview of Gun Laws by Nation: Iceland

Heck, no one even keeps track of how many level-3 and level-4 biocontainment facilities there are in the US, let alone what they're all doing.

Well, hopefully someone does, albeit maybe not all in one place.

But yeah, there are dozens or hundreds of BSL-3 and -2 labs in China alone, some of which certainly handle coronavirus, even if they don't publish as actively as WIV (or in English journals).

I'm curious where the other 2 cities are and why.

Galveston, TX and Chapel Hill, NC

from the link McTx shared the other day: https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2021/06/the-lab-leak-theory-inside-the-fight-to-uncover-covid-19s-origins

Iceland is a very small place with a unique combination of stubborn individualism and communitarianism.

And they may be anal about guns, but that doesn't seem to prevent Icelanders from owning a firearm. It's mostly just to keep tempers in check and to prevent suicide. Despite there being almost no homicide to speak of, they do have a few firearm related suicides a year.

I guess most of them in wintertime. Although the main island is 100% south of the arctic circle, nights in winter get very long and foster depression. Probably one reason for the traditional song and story time sessions and the literary production. Winter was known as 'lots of time and lots of calf hides' (= source of vellum to write on).
Icelandic movies tend to be either very depressing or completely weird (occasionally both).

Kind of like how it would have been extraordinarily suspicious if a mosquito-borne illness had broken out near CDC HQ in Atlanta back in the day, eh?

Not the same thing. Wuhan is 600 or so miles north of Guangdong, where Sars broke out. Yunnan, where the horseshoe bats thought to be the origin of both diseases are, is roughly on a latitude with Guangdong, far to the West.

I've watched the Icelandic TV drama series, Trapped (trailer). Very good. There's a second season I haven't watched yet.

When I was there 50 years ago, they were just starting/had just started their first TV station. Perhaps, in part, in cultural defense. Icelandics were buying TVs so they could watch the TV broadcasts from the US military base.

I have wanted to visit Iceland for quite a long time, but read recently that they're mightily sick of tourists, who outnumber them by a factor of 2 or 3 during the summer.

Maybe autumn would be a better time to go? Or Spring? Does anyone here know?

CaseyL: when you sign up on IcelandAir's website, they'll send you all the great deals in February.

But be warned: death will not release you.

A couple I know went to Iceland a few years ago and got several offers for group sex. I don't recall the precise time of year, but I'm sure it wasn't winter. They claim not to have taken up any of the offers, the apparent prudes.

We went to Iceland in early September, looking for a window after summer tourism but before the weather was likely to shut down the hiking we wanted to do. It was also the first weeks of autumn when the Aurora Borealis might happen.

We got a bit of rain, but not at any time that cut into anything we were doing. The hiking was awesome. And we lucked out and got a huge show of the Northern Lights visible from a park not far from our hotel near the national stadium on the East side of Reykjavik.

Snarki - You'll note I didn't ask about going in the winter :D

HSH - Um. I had not heard that about Iceland. Do... do they show up at airports, like polyamorous greeting committees?

nous - Oh, that sounds perfect! Are there still a lot of tourists around in September?

On the southwest side of the island, it doesn't get very cold in winter. But the weather can be rather dynamic. And it doesn't get very warm in summer. When I was there, the record high temperature was 59F.

Are there still a lot of tourists around in September?

Quite a few, still. It didn't help that we were there at the same time that they were having a World Cup qualifier across the street, so we had a bunch of Ukrainians at the hotel the first night.

We rented a car and left early enough to get to Thingvellir and Reynisfjara before most of the tour busses arrived from Reykjavik. We were usually leaving just as the crowds started showing up.

Think there were five other visitors with us on the pony trek and about seven in our group when we hiked up to see Glymur.

There were lots of beautiful, less popular destinations we got to around Reykjavik where we were practically alone.

And the long light was divine for photography.

CharlesWT: That sounds like the perfect environment for me!

People are supposed to become less cold-tolerant as they get older. Not me; the older I get, the more I hate hot weather.

A country perpetually autumn-winter would be heavenly! Hmm... how hard is it to emigrate to Iceland??

Not the same thing. Wuhan is 600 or so miles north of Guangdong, where Sars broke out. Yunnan, where the horseshoe bats thought to be the origin of both diseases are, is roughly on a latitude with Guangdong, far to the West.

So tell me: what's the distance between Guangdong, where SARS broke out, and Yunnan, where a closely related virus was found in bats?

If you're making a play strictly at latitude, you should know that horseshoe bats definitely range into central China, including Hubei. All of Hubei, IIRC, and maybe even further north. It's possible the Hubei bats haven't been getting as much love as their brothers in those Yunnan caves recently, but they're out there. And so are the coronaviruses.

Not to mention all the other critters that might have been involved. With 40-70 years of divergence between SARS-CoV-2 and RaTG13, there's a lot of time for stuff to have happened.

Unfortunately, I missed an opportunity to visit Iceland a second time a few years ago (the first visit was just two days and my knowledge of Icelandic was zero at the time). Now I hop that I will be able to visit there again and in particular to get into some bookshops in the hope to get some used specimens of books I am unable to obtain from home (I wonder what they would think about that crazy German who wants Icelandic editions of classical Latin authors).
Unfortunately by then my limited knowledge of Icelandic that I have acquired in the meantime will probably be gone again.

Yes of course, a horseshoe bat virus might have reached Wuhan zoonotically. But Wuhan isn't a particularly likely place for it, as was implied by the comment I was replying to.

I went to Iceland in January: it wasn't all that cold. And one gets used to the smell of the water.

Yes of course, a horseshoe bat virus might have reached Wuhan zoonotically. But Wuhan isn't a particularly likely place for it, as was implied by the comment I was replying to.

It's certainly not not a likely place for it. What are you even basing that on? That SARS and MERS happened elsewhere?

I was teasing a little bit about the CDC thing - WIV was founded in the fifties or something, and not as far as I know specifically for coronavirus research (I don't even know if they were known in China at the time).

But the point remains: Wuhan sits right in bat + coronavirus central. It's not unlikely at all that a coronavirus outbreak could occur there.

nous: I am jealous beyond words about the aurora borealis. I absolutely long for it. One of these days...

(Pro Bono: that is a very cryptic remark about the smell of the water, unless I missed something upthread. What is the smell?)

In the spring, when I was in Keflavík, it was the rich smell of the fish processing plant that had you sniffing your parka wondering if it had gotten wet and was rotting.

Pro Bono: that is a very cryptic remark about the smell of the water, unless I missed something upthread. What is the smell?

Sulfur. Iceland gets its power, heat, and hot water for the showers from geothermal energy. Cold water comes from glaciers and runoff. The plumbing is basically two separate feeds from two separate sources.

The hot water pipes get run under the roads and keep them defrosted during the winter.

My silver Thor's Hammer still looks antiqued from the sulfur oxidation it picked up in the shower during our vacation in 2017.

Iceland is a very small place with a unique combination of stubborn individualism and communitarianism.

sounds like Vermont, or maybe the Pacific Northwest.

nous: ah yes, that all makes sense. I knew about the geothermal energy supply, but never extrapolated to the sulfurous (or as we would say sulphurous) side effects.

But further on the cryptic aspect, how come you shower with Thor's hammer? Is that when you expect an attack, or were you traumatised by seeing Psycho at an impressionable age?

Thor's Hammer = my ukonvasara pendant.

Matches my forearm tattoo.

You are very kind to ignore my extreme silliness! Thank you.

Covering my ambiguity bases.

Wonder what it says about me that I know enough people who wear Thor's hammer pendants that it never even occurred to me to picture someone in the shower with a hyper-sledge hammer?

The hot water pipes get run under the roads and keep them defrosted during the winter.

This may explain the scene in Trapped in which a peloton of bikes are zipping down a street in Reykjavik in the middle of the night in the middle of winter.

I didn't even know Thor's hammer pendants were a thing! Which is why it made no sense to me at all. Yet another module of the ObWi educational curriculum, in which I have (truly) learnt a great deal.

There exists a casting mould from the Middle Ages allowing to cast both Thor's hammer and Christian cross pendants. Obviously there were enough customers for both and the craftsman had no qualms serving either.
Btw, I would not be surpised, if some Viking age Scandinavians wore both at the same time too. Beliefs were still rather flexible.

My impression is that Iceland is quite a bit greener than when I was there. They're replanting the forests. They're importing tree species rather than plant the native trees. Over time the climate has shifted enough that the native trees are no longer a good match.

There exists a casting mould from the Middle Ages allowing to cast both Thor's hammer and Christian cross pendants.

My wife has one of those pendants (which also got the sulfur treatment on the trip).

My impression is that Iceland is quite a bit greener than when I was there. They're replanting the forests.

It's a work-in-progress. Heard this one from our hiking guide as we walked through some scrub on the way up the west side of Glymur:

What should you do if you get lost in an Icelandic forest?

Stand up.

thanks to cleek for answering my question about the 3 places. I re-read the Vanity Fair article, it's quite interesting rhetorically in the way it paints the people arguing for the lab-leak possibility as these sort of embattled truth seekers. In particular, Redfield's talking about death threats. I don't want to dismiss them, I have to wonder if any of that can be attributed to the boiling over of frustration with the clickbait administration's handling of the pandemic. A couple of links

Interview with Redfield
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/20/health/covid-CDC-redfield.html

There are people who say to me, “Well, why didn’t you tell the president this?” or, “Why do you tell the president that?” There are some people that will only be satisfied if you personally criticize the president. I’m a chain-of-command kind of guy.

Here's an article about the letter from Foege to Redfield and a pull graf
https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/cdc-director-calls-redfield-reveal-trump-administration-missteps/story?id=73480591

HHS Assistant Secretary of Public Affairs Michael Caputo, who has since taken leave from his position, accused government scientists of "sedition" and working to undermine the president even if it hurt the American public in a rant posted to social media. Redfield said he was "deeply saddened" by those false comments and that CDC's dedicated professionals are working 24/7 on the pandemic response.

I don't want to claim that Redfield is trying to make himself a martyr, but one can easily see the dynamic involved. Sadly, one can also the possibility of arguing for a lab-leak as being a way to restore a reputation damaged by being in the orbit of clickbait.

Back to our discussion of gun control, this from the Guardian, was interesting.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/jun/08/anom-encrypted-app-fbi-afp-australia-federal-police-sting-operation-ironside-an0m

Executing Australia’s largest number of search warrants in one day, police on Monday seized 104 firearms, including a military-grade sniper rifle, as well as almost A$45m (£25m) in cash. About A$7m was found in a safe buried beneath a garden shed in a Sydney suburb.

104!!! Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

https://edition.cnn.com/2019/05/08/us/massive-seizure-of-guns-la-trnd/index.html

May 9, 2019
Law enforcement officers in Los Angeles seized more than 1,000 guns from a Bel Air mansion on Wednesday after receiving an anonymous tip.

[...]
Aerial images show stacks of weapons — including hundreds of rifles and pistols, as well as ammunition and manufacturing equipment.

Ah, a freedom factory! And the commies are seizing the means of production. An infomer is also involved. Almost a trifecta.

...more than 1,000 guns from a Bel Air mansion...

People like this are who run up the national per capita gun ownership numbers. (Wonder if he own stock in one of the gun manufacturers. Just to get something back on all that spending....)

Ah, a freedom factory! And the commies are seizing the means of production. An infomer is also involved. Almost a trifecta.

Then, there's this.
https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2021/06/08/california-gun-bust-leads-to-charges-of-600000-in-fraud/

He was initially arrested in February after a traffic stop in Sacramento, where prosecutors said he was found with an illegal fully automatic handgun.

A search of his home turned up drugs, body armor and five guns including an assault rifle and two loaded unregistered guns, one a Mac-9 and the other an assault pistol, prosecutors said.

Investigators said they also found six unemployment agency debit cards. [Those turn out to have been used for $6 million in unemployment fraud.]

After all, if it's a scam of the unemployment system, he must be one of "those people." And "we" don't want "them" to have guns!

For all the (richly deserved) caustic remarks that we, and numerous others, have made about the Texas legislature and its vote suppression efforts, it must be noted that sometimes (on other issues) they did the right thing.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/texas-lawmakers-again-urge-federal-board-to-remove-negro-from-name-of-natural-sites/2021/06/07/8d5cd1f4-be35-11eb-83e3-0ca705a96ba4_story.html

Kind of sad that the Federal government has had most of these in a similar recommendation from 30 years ago. But not acted on them.

Just for the record, I have high respect for people like Ian McCollum (Forgotten Weapons) or Othais&May (C&Rsenal) that are clearly weapon enthusiasts but produce material that's not just entertaining but also gives in-depths information and avoids politics (except where it directly interferes with their serious and scholarly work). They are clearly not gun p0rnographers and act very responsibly (given that they life-fire guns that are often more than a century old that fact probably plays a role there too).
The problem is to make laws that on the one hand protects people and activities like them but also protects the public from those that amass arsenals out of paranoia and to live out their violent fantasies at the cost of others (and think that safety precautions are for sissies and invented by spoilsports and THEM!).

After all, if it's a scam of the unemployment system, he must be one of "those people." And "we" don't want "them" to have guns!

Nope, since THEM steal from US by cheating the system, US have to outcheat them to just get even.
Same reason given for election fraud committed by GOPsters: It's OUR only chance to counter the MASSIVE fraud constantly committed by THEM.
Cf. insurance too: it's only fair, if WE get out more than we pay in, othewrwise it's us paying for THEIR health.
Or why should WE pay for schools that our own kids (if we have any) do not use. It's just subsidizing THEM.

Western 3%er Madness: Parts I and II:

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jun/07/idaho-republicans-far-right-mask-mandates

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jun/08/klamath-falls-oregon-protests-ammon-bundy

All this with reports coming out of the G7 Summit that the economies of the leading economic nations could shed trillions - twice as much or more per year as was lost to the pandemic - if the temperature does go up by 2.6 degrees as currently projected.

Not a good time to give up on collective solutions.

Cf. insurance too: it's only fair, if WE get out more than we pay in, othewrwise it's us paying for THEIR health.

To be honest, I hope to die having gotten far less out of the health insurance system than I put in. Be able to say, "No, didn't do the big cancer deal. No, didn't lay in an ICU for weeks smashed up in an auto accident."

Not a good time to give up on collective solutions.

Iron Rule #1: any solution where liberals ask "conservatives" to chip-in for anything that sounds like a collective good will never be implemented.

cleek, your comment comes just as the Biden-Capito infrastructure talks ended with no deal, and McConnell announced he would not support the John Lewis VRA (which was the Plan B if HR 1 went nowhere).

It would be mildly amusing (assuming there's nothing constructive to be done) to write a bill to straight up reinstate the VRA. And, when McConnell inevitably announces that he won't support it, ask him why he voted to reauthorize it, when it got essentially unanimous approval a few years ago.

Not that I think anyone would get an answer out of him. But possibly amusing to see how he evades.

...a bill to straight up reinstate the VRA.

Less language that the SCOTUS explicitly found unconstitutional, or replacement language inserted. So most likely, written to require that all states must submit any changes in election law affecting federal elections -- voter id, how many vote centers, US House districts, ease of vote by mail, etc -- for pre-approval by the DOJ. I'm willing to take bets that such language will not pass. At a minimum, Senators from blue western states will not vote for legislation that requires every tweak to improve vote by mail systems, rated by experts to be the best at accuracy, security, and ease of use, to be pre-approved by the DOJ. Especially a DOJ that may be in the hands of Republicans that are, at a national level, completely opposed to vote by mail.

Or at least they'll vote for it only once, and will then be primaried out. Vote by mail is enormously popular in the West.

At a minimum, Senators from blue western states will not vote for legislation that requires every tweak to improve vote by mail systems, rated by experts to be the best at accuracy, security, and ease of use, to be pre-approved by the DOJ.

I'm not so sure. Yes, it would be a hassle. But I think they (at least a significant portion of them) might feel it's a small price to pay in exchange for getting certain other parts of the country to be required to do the right thing. Certainly, as a Californian (and vote by mail fan), that would be my take.

Gohmert: I understand, from what’s been testified to, the Forest Service and the BLM, you want very much to work on the issue of climate change. I was, uh, informed by the immediate past director of NASA that they found that the Moon’s orbit is changing slightly and so is the Earth’s orbit around the Sun, we know there’s been significant solar flare activities, um, and so, is there anything that the National Forest Service or BLM can do to, uh, change the course of the Moon’s orbit or the Earth’s orbit around the Sun? Obviously that would have profound effects on our climate.

FU GOP

My first response: So many of them are so scientifically illiterate, that it would not entirely surprise me to find that this was a seriously meant question.

And lo, I find from the San Antonio Current that this is indeed a possibility:

It's unclear whether Gohmert intended his question to be a sarcastic or whether it displays a scientific ignorance so profound that he has no clue how fucked the Earth would be if forest rangers tampered with those orbits.

Either way, the expert to whom he addressed the query replies with a level of diplomacy that qualifies her for work at the State Department if that whole science thing doesn't pan out for her.

"I would have to follow up with on you on that one, Mr. Gohmert," she replies after a full three-second pause. Then she flashes a broad smile.

It's in the same category as Trump asking Birx to conduct research into injecting bleach. The GOP - Party of the Flat Earth.

Unfortunately, Mr.Gohmert, this would require the summoning of certain pagan deities. Our studies have found conclusively that this would have some side effects that you and most of your constituents would rather avoid and are beyond our current abilities to control with any certainty. On the other hand it indeed falls under the authority of the department of agriculture and the forest service since it involves a certain silvane caprine of dark colour and known high fertility.

I think it pretty clear that Gohmert intended to be sarcastic: he was claiming that climate change is caused by orbital perturbations which it would be beyond the powers of government agencies to undo.

I think also that the expert would have done better to say "No, we can't change the earth's orbit, nor the moon's. But we can do something about carbon dioxide emissions."

I think it pretty clear that Gohmert intended to be sarcastic

then you have powers of sarcasm detection far exceeding mine.

wj: "McConnell inevitably announces that he won't support it, ask him why he voted to reauthorize it, when it got essentially unanimous approval a few years ago.

Not that I think anyone would get an answer out of him. But possibly amusing to see how he evades."

Oh, like a Supreme Court vacancy shouldn't be filled in the last year of a presidential term?

McConnell is a hypocritical lump of corruption, the only kind of "amusing" evasion he can do involves being on the receiving end of gunfire.

McConnell is a hypocritical lump of corruption, the only kind of "amusing" evasion he can do involves being on the receiving end of gunfire.

Given that most of the military equipment in private hands is in the hands of his supporters, I'd consider praying for a stroke more likely to succeed. Deo volente

Unfortunately, Mr.Gohmert, this would require the summoning of certain pagan deities.

So, Superman is copped liver?...

Because we can always use a cause for hope, here's an indication that even places like small town Texas are changing.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2021/06/09/pride-month-rainbow-bakery-customer/

No wonder the Texas GOP legislators are in a panic.

Superman is just a manifestation of Mithras.

Oh, this reminds me that Loki starts today. My 8-year-old and I can bond while also driving my wife nuts.

Superman is just a manifestation of Mithras.

Just keeping the showering with ox blood tastefully out of sight.

I think it pretty clear that Gohmert intended to be sarcastic: he was claiming that climate change is caused by orbital perturbations which it would be beyond the powers of government agencies to undo.

Perhaps. But he has a history of saying idiotic stuff, and, apparently (he's even referred to it himself) the (fiercely contested) title of Dumbest Member of Congress.

McConnell is a hypocritical lump of corruption, the only kind of "amusing" evasion he can do involves being on the receiving end of gunfire.

Amen.

Gohmert is clearly feeling the pressure from Gaetz, Taylor-Greene, and Boebert for dumbest thing said by a member of the House. If Sidney Powell were a member, her attempts to hand Dominion and Smartmatic billion dollar summary judgements would still have the others beat, I think. What's the over/under on when Powell's attorneys attempt to withdraw from the case?

I was, uh, informed by the immediate past director of NASA that they found that the Moon’s orbit is changing slightly and so is the Earth’s orbit around the Sun...

The immediate past director of NASA is Jim Bridenstine, a former climate denier without a science background, appointed by Trump and confirmed by a 50-49 party-line vote in the Senate in April 2018.

But Bridenstine changed his mind once he started talking to scientists. So whatever he told Gohmert it was before he was in charge of NASA.

I think it pretty clear that Gohmert intended to be sarcastic

Not sure if that’s better or worse

But he has a history of saying idiotic stuff, and, apparently (he's even referred to it himself) the (fiercely contested) title of Dumbest Member of Congress.

I feel there is a cross-chamber competition. On one side, Gohmert and the others mentioned, on the other side, Tommy Tuberville and Ron Johnson. Really is a clash of the titans...

The Moon is moving away from the Earth slowing her (rotation) down. So each day the sun has more time to heat Earth up and the cold on the night side has more time to vent into space. So naturally the Earth gets warmer. The solution is to elongate the orbit to benefit from the fact that movement gets faster the closer one is to the sun (so we would pass through the hot zone faster and spent more time in the slower outer and cooler part. You may say that getting too close will overheat us in the short term but this will be compensated by higher evaporation leading to more clouds that will shield us during that critical period. Ideally we would change the Moon's orbit so it will be between us and the sun when we are closest.
See, all is easy with proper knowldege of celebrity mechanics and thermic dynamos.

We could always launch Gohmert into the Sun, if it needs some more "dim".

Worth a try.

the internet tells me it takes 55x more energy to launch something into the sun than it does to launch something to Mars.

i say it'd be worth the expense.

i say it'd be worth the expense.

I bet a GoFundMe account would do really well. And even better if it offered to do Greene and Boebert at the same time.

(Greene may not believe in evolution, but it would improve the gene pool nevertheless.)

A further gloss on the Gohmert intention:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/06/09/gohmerts-question-about-forest-service-changing-earths-orbit-was-dumb-not-reason-you-think/

i have no reason to believe Gohmert is capable of being so dryly sardonic.

Nothing in his previous history of science-illiteracy suggests he is...

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