Things I Learned This Week

I am not a happy bunny, I learnt two things today, two things that probably say more about the United States of America’s toxic culture than anything else.

The first was the apparent “attacks on teachers by politicians”. The notion that the school teachers are horrid, greedy and callous individuals personally responsible for the state of American education rather than the shoddy interference by private parties and politicians.

The American system is fucked by it’s standardised testing. It’s EXCESSIVE standardised testing… I understand the need for tests. They are vital in the real world. If I told americans how many tests I sit to qualify they would probably think I am some sort of robot sent from the future to make humans embarrassed about how much they suck at exams. I have exams until the end of January… I have one tomorrow. I have so far finished 6 papers and have 10 more to go…

I am taught to the paper myself  BUT my paper is “Ophthalmology” It’s a massive subject. Being taught to the paper involves the major problems you will face. When you do a Postgraduate Qualification you will get more help but at my level of “Bog Standard Doctor” you get to know the basics and the syllabus of the paper covers that.

But that shouldn’t be the case in a school. A school is there to not just teach but inspire. To blame teachers for a broken system is like blaming soldiers for the malfunction of a weapon. The system is broke, teachers are trying to do their best. Some of the right wing vitriol makes me think that the USA wages a war on terror, drugs and education simultaneously.

The second thing I found out was that guns in the USA are a placebo. They are the extension of a Walter Mitty fantasy. They are bought in the belief that if something goes wrong the purchaser will whip his weapon out and solve the problem with hot lead and justice.

To the gun owner, crime is less of a problem in their heads. They THINK they are safe. And for the most part they are right. The USA is a relatively SAFE place. Your crime rates while high for a first world nation are lower than many places where we routinely go. I am more likely to be run over by a car everyday I step out the house than you are to die in a crime in the USA.

But the fear of crime is high in the USA. But that’s the media’s fault. Crime is glorified in the news. Because it sells. It also makes people buy guns because successful crime is only shown. You don’t see all the crime thwarted because it’s thwarted. That doesn’t make front page, that is a byline story. So people think that they are unsafe, they think the cops don’t do anything and are all donut eating salad dodgers rather than a skilled workforce. They do not trust their cops.

Why the British Bobby is considered the pinnacle of police work but the american copper isn’t is a debate for another time and probably someone more knowledgeable than me.

This attitude towards cops and crime means that Americans think that they only have two options. To prowl the streets dressed as a bat striking fear into the hearts of superstitious criminals or buy a gun. Since most billionaires are rather safe from petty criminals the only real option is the gun. Once you have a gun you think you are safe. Crime is no longer your problem.

Economic disparity and lack of opportunity may have made criminals but Smith & Wesson make them equally dead.

If you think crime is not your problem any more, so why should you care about things that cause crime? Why should you care about it falling. If anything rising crime merely confirms your choice of purchase and you may think of buying a second firearm (I don’t know… You intend to jump through a window while firing two guns or require a spare gun in case your first gun betrays you…).

This notion came to a head today when I found out that post Sandy Hook, Colorado has seen their biggest firearms purchase ever. To the point that there is a backlog of background check claims. 4200 purchases were made.

Despite what we think in our quiet corner of the internet, the apparent solution to guns is more guns. Because no one thinks that they will ever be the bad guy in the gun fight. No one ever thinks that they will draw second. No one ever thinks they will miss. No one ever thinks they will hit the wrong person. And no one ever thinks they will draw in anger.

No one ever sees themselves shooting up a school. Everyone who they see getting shot by them had it coming. It’s always a rapist, mugger, murderer, robber, rogue gunman or terrorist. It’s never the nice boys from next door. It’s never their own family or policemen or some random stranger.


  1. Riptide says

    Colorado some and other US states always go crazy every time a shooting happens, not because they want to feel safe, but because they’re afraid that the government will finally start putting through effective gun control laws. It’s like a run on bottled water in the face of a hurricane.

  2. smrnda says

    From my interactions with some gun owners (not all) – quite a few of them seem very emotionally invested in the idea that it’s practically a post-apocalyptic free-for-all out there, and they’re quite taken to thinking of themselves as action heroes who just haven’t had the chance to prove themselves yet. The owning of a gun or supporting gun ownership isn’t the result of a measured risk/benefit assessment, but because it fits a narrative and it provides the gun owner with an identity and a sense of pride and status.

    I think these people aren’t so much dangerous because they have guns (not very many actually shoot people) but because people who cannot assess danger or risk properly are going to be incapable of making sound policy decisions.

  3. F [disappearing] says

    From my interactions with some gun owners (not all) – quite a few of them seem very emotionally invested in the idea that it’s practically a post-apocalyptic free-for-all out there, and they’re quite taken to thinking of themselves as action heroes who just haven’t had the chance to prove themselves yet.

    This is how criminals operate also, more or less minus the hero shit.

  4. Don says

    “BUT my paper is “Opthalmology” It’s a massive subject.” The first thing you’ll need to do is learn how to spell “ophthamology.”

  5. bradleybetts says


    And you get the prize for “Most Ironic Comment”, because the area of medicine specialising in the eye is indeed spelt “Opthalmology” as Avi said, and not “Opthamology”, as you said. Congrats.

    “oph·thal·mol·o·gy/ˌɒf θəlˈmɒl ə dʒi, -θə-, -θæl-, ˌɒp-/ [of-thuh l-mol-uh-jee, -thuh-, -thal-, op-]
    the branch of medical science dealing with the anatomy, functions, and diseases of the eye.”

    Ain’t it a bitch when sarcasm backfires?

  6. Kalli says

    Many of the problems with vitriol towards teachers is based in conservative and christian politics. As prayer and the bible were removed from schools, teaching of evolution, acceptance of minorities, the end of segregation, conservative and christian politics turned against public school. The schools were teaching things that conservatives and christians disapproved of. They weren’t teaching the same “values” the parents wanted their children to learn. Many conservative christians turned to home and private schooliing to control the message their kids get, god forbid they learn it is OK to be gay. So if people are homeschooling their kids, why should they pay for it, support for public education, which teaches things they disapprove of, should be stopped. Further to make it all drive a point home, those evil teacher unions always vote for the liberal democrats, we need to thwart the actions of the unions as well. Sure the US education system has problems, and big ones, underfunding, a system that allows teachers to go to sleep on the job, crappy curriculums and school boards that want to teach creation “science”. But they aren’t addressing those problems, instead they want to just do away with it, like not educating our kids is somehow good for society, well maybe it is if you are trying to build a society of ignorant factory workers.

  7. says

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