There is an image of the ostrich born out of the cartoons we watched as kids. It’s the idea that it would bury it’s head in the sand at the first sign of any threat under the notion that if it cannot see the threat then there is no problem.

But growing up I found out that the ostrich has a less stupid survival mechanism. It is not only fast as a horse but also  can kick you to death. Chances are it’s not likely to hide in the sand. Not when it can outrun most things and stamp most things that can catch it.

But the imagery stuck. [Read more…]

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.