Christmas Eve Sarajevo, Two Versions

So this is a beautiful song, one of my favorite pieces. It’s up to you which version you choose. There’s the Trans-Siberian Orchestra version, which is a little more fantasy and wonder and has kittens and a very sweet little girl.

And then there’s the Savatage version, used on their Dead Winter Dead album, and it has war and a love story.

That’s the album that started me toward becoming a peacekeeper. I won’t say pacifist – I think there are times, unfortunately, when a species of war is necessary. But it’s very different from the kind of war we’ve been fighting. It’s the kind of war that helps stop ethnic cleansing and unthinkable violence and allows people to put shattered lives back together, as best as they can, and go on.

I think of this story every Christmas Eve: that there was a war, and a cellist, and a Christmas Eve when the cello stopped, and two people walked away from a war.

And there was a cellist of Sarajevo. He played in the ruins as the war raged round him. He inspired the story of Dead Winter Dead. But his was a happier ending, and hasn’t ended yet.

Vedran Smajlović, in Sarajevo, 1992. Image and caption courtesy Wikipedia.

Vedran Smajlović, in Sarajevo, 1992. Image and caption courtesy Wikipedia.

I think of those who try, in the midst of ruins, to make this world a little better, a little more beautiful, when to those in the midst of those ruins it must seem there’s nothing good or beautiful left in it, and I’m grateful for them, this Christmas Eve.

Little kids and kittens are nice, too. And fantasy, and wonder, and beauty in the dark night, as the music plays, and stories unfold.

What Pass for Winter Scenes In Seattle – With Basalt, Baby Sloths, and Sea Otters

It’s not going to be a white Christmas here. More like a gray wet one. That’s how Seattle goes. Still, when the sun peeks out for ten seconds, and the new basalt column fountain’s going, it’s quite pretty even without the frozen white stuff mucking up the roads.

Basalt column fountain in winter.

Basalt column fountain in winter.

So, it’s Christmas Eve here in the United States. Another War on Christmas season is almost over, and I’m thinking for the next one, we should design some less tacky displays to plant in the public square next to all of those gawd-awful nativity scenes. There was only one nativity scene I ever came close to liking, and that was the live one we had once. Only the camel ended up wanting no part of it, and I have no idea where the sheep had wandered off to, and it ended up just as lame as the plastic ones. Still. I got a glimpse of a live camel, which when you’re young and from a smallish American town is pretty damned awesome. We should invent some sort of nativity for the FSM, if there isn’t one already, involving exotic animals. Preferably ones that won’t get bored, like sloths. We’d have children clamoring to see the atheist displays if they included baby sloths, and I’ll bet the adults wouldn’t put up as much of a fight as they might have done otherwise.

display on a courthouse lawn and do anything but go

Baby sloth. How could anyone see something like this at a holiday display on a courthouse lawn and do anything but go “Ooooaaaawwww!!!” without being labeled a terrible person by bystanders of all denominations? Image courtesy Jennifer Jordan on Flickr.

So that’s a thought. Someone get to work on some sort of nativity story for the FSM or spawn of FSM that includes baby sloths. Also, sea otters. Give them a pool and they’ll stay put. And everyone who isn’t a horrible person turns to mush in their presence. They’re sort of like kittens of the sea.

Sea otters at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. I defy you not to melt in a mushy puddle. I double-otter dare you.

Sea otters at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. I defy you not to melt in a mushy puddle. I double-otter dare you.

Where are your camels and sheep now, Christians? Mwah-ha-ha! Oh, wait, it’s Christmas. Ahem. Mwah-ho-ho!

Anyway, where was I before that seg ued? Oh, right. Showing you our snazzy new fountain against a winter sky. Righty-o.

I love the curlicue of water on this one.

I love the curlicue of water on this one.

Not that you can really tell the difference in Seattle. The only difference between the winter, fall or spring sky is really whether the tree to the left has leaves on it, and what color they are.

Speaking of winter trees, here is an attempt at being all solstice-artsy.

Snazzy new basalt fountain and dormant trees.

Snazzy new basalt fountain and dormant trees.

Yes, I know, a light dusting of snow would have made it perfect, but I was off that day, so of course it wasn’t going to snow. Do you think it snows round here when I don’t have to drive anywhere? Hells to the no. It was going to snow a little on Christmas, until it noticed I was off that day, so now it’s not. And here I was going to get all sorts of lovely winter scenes for you, but all I can do is give you solstice sunshine (well, close enough) and basalt fountains, semi-artistically contrasted.

Solstice sun, columnar basalt, falling water.

Solstice sun, columnar basalt, falling water.

That’s your Happy Solstice etc. card this year, my darlings, unless the weather does something a little more artsy before the new year.

Have a happy, and raise yourselves a round. Much love to you!

Also, another baby sloth, because why not?

Two-toed baby sloth. Image courtesy Matt McGillivray on Flickr.

Two-toed baby sloth. Image courtesy Matt McGillivray on Flickr.

Sunday Song: Autumn’s Last Gasp

Really. This is getting seriously ridiculous. Autumn refuses to leave. But I think it’s on its last legs now, so this may honestly and actually be the last of it.

These lovelies are from my breaking-in-shoes walk a couple of Saturdays ago. For the most part, we’re down to a few bedecked branches, and some solitary leaves that have fallen artistically into the evergreenery.

Last gasps o' autumn I

Last gasps o’ autumn I

Y’all see why I love that leaf, right? It wasn’t even sunny, and this thing was glowing. Gorgeous.

Here’s another:

Last gasps o' autumn II

Last gasps o’ autumn II

They don’t seem to understand it’s autumn’s end.

Then there’s this little plant, and I have no idea what it is, but I think it’s delicious.

Last gasps o' autumn III

Last gasps o’ autumn III

And really, the lichen-covered rock as a backdrop – smashing. I think that photo deserves my last greatest autumn song. I love this song as much as I love that plant: this is Mostly Autumn’s “Carpe Diem.”

Gorgeous stuff.

Now, I’m hoping that if we remind these autumn leaves it’s almost Christmas, they’ll concede that yes, it’s officially winter, mid-winter will be here in a tick, probably time to give way to the snow and the cold and the gray, except where evergreen shrubs pop out with their bright red berries.

Last gasps o' autumn IV

Last gasps o’ autumn IV

No, scarlet leaves. You are not red berries. Don’t be silly.

Last gasps o' autumn V

Last gasps o’ autumn V

Perhaps if we play autumn off with an autumn song that sounds slightly like a Christmas song, maybe that’ll work.

Look, autumn. The houses are all bedecked in midwinter lights. It’s time to accept this. Although I admit – you and lights? Lovely!

Autumn's Last Gasp VI

Autumn’s Last Gasp VI

Silly Rhododendron. Don’t You Know It’s Winter?

Yay, we survived the current apocalypse! Woo! I am just astounded beyond words, reely. In celebration, I’m being completely lazy and refuse to turn on the computer. Good thing I had some winter-themed rhodies in drafts, then right?

I took a walk two Saturdays ago to break in my nifty new shoes. I took a picture of them so we can all remember them when: this is the pair that will be maimed, mangled, muddied, and otherwise modified during the summer adventuring season.

Mah new adventuring shoes

Mah new adventuring shoes

I know some of you will yell at me for not getting proper hiking boots. I can’t bloody walk in hiking boots. Also, some of the trails round here encourage you not to wear hiking boots anyway, because they’re apparently more destructive than sneakers. Don’t worry about my ankles. I’d turn them worse in hiking boots – I’ve done it before. Also, I’d break my nose: when my ankles are confined, I get unstable on my pins. Don’t ask me why, because I don’t know. It’s not an issue for city walking, but when I’m trying to scramble over rocks, it’s bad.

Anyway, my feet aren’t important. They’re just what forced me out of the house. I went bouncing down the road (the tread on these makes me feel like I’m all springy) and stomped around North Creek for a bit getting used to them. Columbia, it turns out, makes good shoes. They’re brand-new, yet didn’t give me ferocious blisters. They didn’t even rub much. And they stop on a dime. I know this because I stopped dead when I noticed a rhodie blooming.

A Rhodie in Winter

A Rhodie in Winter

I’ve never ever seen a rhodie blooming this late. Then again, I don’t typically go traipsing round Seattle in the winter. I’m a complete wuss. I also have ten trillion tons of research to accomplish before summer so that I can continue to pump out blog posts whilst adventuring. But you know, cabin fever and new shoes, and the sun came out for thirty seconds, and I was all like, “Yay let’s go outside!!!!!”

And this rhodie’s all, “Yay let’s bloom even though it’s a ridiculous time of the year for it!”

Beautiful blooms

Beautiful blooms

You may notice they’re covered in water. That’s because it’s been raining. All. The. Time. Also, it’s definitely colder than a sled dog’s arsehole, although we haven’t definitively established that temperature. It was cold enough to make my ears ache and my thighs go numb. I’m a bloody wuss, people, I admit it. And standing round photographing a rather ambitious rhodie didn’t help matters.

But gotta love the results.

Sweetest Bud

Sweetest Bud

How lovely is that? Here’s the full version, because I can’t decide which I like best.

Sweetest Bud II

Sweetest Bud II

So there were all these flowers, nestled among the greenery, and if my ears hadn’t been ready to fall off and my thigh muscles MIA, I could’ve believed it was an overcast but lovely spring day. It’s nice of these late-bloomers to give us this spring reprise.

Pretend it's spring. Hope it doesn't snow.

Pretend it’s spring. Hope it doesn’t snow.

I found you some fantastic fungi, too, and you shall have it in the not-too-distant future. This is why I love the Pacific Northwest. I’m always finding lovely things, and although I’m a wuss, I can survive no matter the season. Then I can come back and share lovely things with you. That, my darlings, is part of what makes life so delightful.

One Week

Flag at half-mast. Illinois State University campus during winter storm Draco, on 20 Dec 2012. Image courtesy George Wiman.

Flag at half-mast. Illinois State University campus during winter storm Draco, on 20 Dec 2012. Image courtesy George Wiman.

The flag at the Seattle Times building is at half mast, too – I see it when I pass by on the way to work, and remember. I hope this time we don’t forget.


Charlotte Bacon, 6

Daniel Barden, 7

Rachel Davino, 29

Olivia Engel, 6

Josephine Gay, 7

Ana M Marquez-Greene, 6

Dylan Hockley, 6

Dawn Hochsprung, 47

Madeline F. Hsu, 6

Catherine V. Hubbard, 6

Chase Kowalski, 7

Jesse Lewis, 6

James Mattioli, 6

Grace McDonnell, 7

Anne Marie Murphy, 52

Emilie Parker, 6

Jack Pinto, 6

Noah Pozner, 6

Caroline Previdi, 6

Jessica Rekos, 6

Avielle Richman, 6

Lauren Rousseau, 30

Mary Sherlach, 56

Victoria Soto, 27

Benjamin Wheeler, 6

Allison N Wyatt, 6

Maya Apocalypse Day Music Madness: Only The End of the World Again!

Welcome to the Umpteen Thousandth Annual Apolcalypse! Brought to you by the Maya Long Count Calendar – and we all know that things carved in stone must be true. Never mind that people have based their idea that the end times are upon us on a cultural misunderstanding. Somehow, the fact that the Maya expected the world to continue after today never crosses their minds. Never mind that their doom scenarios are completely without foundation.

The small detail of end-of-world disaster scenarios being completely corny will not stop us from throwing end-times parties (because it’s Friday and damn it, we’ll take any excuse handy. Woo!). End-times parties need a soundtrack. I am here to provide. I also stand to lose ~90% of my readership if you all watch some of these videos sober, but I’m willing to take the risk, because they made me laugh.

Also, don’t forget: we have a very special Geopocalypse edition of the Accretionary Wedge up courtesy of Lockwood, and it has awesome content and valid points, so you lot who are stuck at work should absolutely read it while the clock ticks toward party time.

Soundtrack below the fold. Party on, my apocalyptically outstanding readership, party on!

Disaster Area: “Only the End of the World Again.” How else do you start off yet another apocalypse? Why, with a punk song inspired by The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy with none other than Douglas Adams on guitar.

Yoshida Brothers: “The End of the World.” One of the best Japanese bands in existence was actually the inspiration for this series (combined with the Maya, o’ course!)

Great Big Sea: “End of the World.” Every apocalypse comes with the obligatory playing of REM’s classic. In this case, RQ pointed me toward an excellent cover, so we can at least pretend we are avante garde and original here in the cantina.

Hatsune Miku and Megurine Luka: “World’s End Dancehall PV.” Here is where I begin to hemorrhage readers, but it’s very fucked up and Japanese and the name of the song is teh awesome and I couldn’t resist.

Shiina Ringo, Saito Neko, and Shiina Junpei: “Konoyo no kagiri (The End of the World).” The grand finale, my favorite find in the search for end-of-the-world music, and deliciously bizarre. If you watch no other video, watch this one. It will make you fully appreciate the apocalypse in a way no other song could.

Happy Apocalypse, everyone!

New at Rosetta Stones: I Snark At the Media. Do Contain Your Surprise.

Back to geology for a bit: our own RQ sent me some articles that got me started on Tolbachik and the media’s fractal wrongness. One thing I’ve learned during these last years of science writing: don’t trust science writing. Really don’t trust anything you see in the popular media, and take stuff written up by actual science writers with a grain of salt (or, if you’re watching your sodium intake, salt substitute). Yes, even mine. We can be wrong sometimes. But, happily, not as often as the mainstream media, which is filled with poor innocent journalists being asked to cover breaking news about things they know nothing about. It’s like asking me to cover a soccer game. What could go wrong is hilarious and horrible to those with more expertise.

Anyway. It was nice to do up a bit of geology, and I hope it proves to be a nice breather for all of you who have spent this week alternately crying and raging. Enjoy!

A Child Armed Himself

So there’s this, and it broke my heart. Good job, America. You’ve convinced eleven year-olds that they need to be armed and dangerous. And what happens when we arm children? They don’t know how to use a gun responsibly, so they wave it at people, and we have one more data point in the set that says guns don’t make you safer. At least it was unloaded.

Elsewhere in that article, after the tragedy of a child thinking he needed a firearm to be safe because we can’t get our violence under control, and we have gun nuts telling us the solution is more guns (conveniently forgetting Fort Hood, and all of the highly-trained people armed with guns there), we have an Attorney General-elect declaring fortifying schools is one possibility.

Ah, smell that Second Amendment freedom! We are free to live as if we are living in a war zone, because we’re not responsible enough to take the high-capacity clips and assault weapons away while we begin the long work of addressing the myriad factors that go into making this a culture where people with guns kill lots and lots of people.

“Well Regulated.” Image courtesy Rick Cooper (RickC) on Flickr.

I am disgusted beyond words with my country right now.

The NRA released a rehash of the same statement they make every time some dude with an anger management problem and too many guns shoots up a public space: “Sorry and all that, but now’s not the time for policy and politics. Oh, and by the time we may pretend to concede that it is, there’ll be another mass shooting so we can repeat these words and kick the discussion down the road.” I paraphrase, of course, but I believe this to be an accurate representation of their words.

I am tired of people telling us we should postpone this conversation. I’m tired of people screaming “Freedom! Security! If I don’t have guns, tyranny!!eleventy!!1!”

What Mythbri said is better than my immediate response of “fuck you, dumbshit” and gets the same point across: “What is the minimum amount of children required to die in a single shooting before everyone can agree to at least talk about gun control? Because I have already surpassed my limit.”

I will ask the same thing of the Obama administration, and I will not limit myself to just a bunch of American kids. If we’re going to cry over our own children, we need to stop killing other countries’ children. The government can’t go on killing kids in distant places and claiming a moral high ground here. We can’t ask our own citizens to be more human and humane and justify murdering wedding parties by calling it “mowing the lawn.” When we dehumanize others, when we use that language of other human beings, when we are that dispassionate about killing, what are we telling the young folk we’re supposedly so concerned about? We’re telling them it’s okay to kill if you come up with a reason why your opponent is not human. I do not deny that this is a world in which human beings sometimes need to be killed in order to protect other human beings. But we must remember, as we are killing them, that we are killing human beings. Not blades of grass. Not bugs. People.

When I was studying forensic psychology for the book I was writing many years ago, something stood out to me: victims of serial killers who survived did so because they’d persuaded their potential murderers to see them as human beings. Even serial killers have a hard time killing people they’ve come to recognize as human beings. Think about that.

We have a lot of work to do. Part of that work begins with ourselves. We need to stop dehumanizing people we don’t like or are uncomfortable with the idea of killing. This includes the people we attack in other countries. This includes the people we kill because we thought they might be suspicious but turned out to be wrong. This includes the people inside our borders who kill other people. And this includes the people we don’t like. We need to be careful, while calling a douchebag a douchebag, to recognize that there is a human being behind that label, and their life also has a value.

This is why I changed my mind on the death penalty. It may act as a specific deterrent, as John Douglas said, but it doesn’t act as a general deterrent, and it puts vengeance ahead of justice. This is in addition to its many other problematic aspects. We may have a complex and nuanced discussion about this later, but for now, I just want to point out that societies that are more humane and more lock their murderers up instead of engaging in a morbid quid-pro-quo. And I think that tells a country’s citizens to pause and consider the value of a life, even an abhorrent life, one we’re not tempted to see as human. We may not want to see murderers as human, but they are. We need to face that. And we can do so without excusing what they have done in the least.

In the meantime, since it will take a long time to bend that arc toward justice, since it will take a long and sustained effort with few immediate payoffs to fix the things that need fixing to ensure that fewer people kill other people, let’s cut back on the easy access to the means of destruction.

Does gun control work? Ask Australia, for one. Yes, it does. It is one means a society can use to protect its citizens. It is one means a society can use to make it less likely that eleven year-olds will feel it necessary to arm themselves.

And I love this idea from Amanda Marcotte: go after the ads. I’d had the same thought the other day, looking at the ads Mother Jones collected. We don’t let cigarette manufacturers advertise. Why not the same restriction on gun ads? There’s a thought. Again, not the solution, but a piece of it. It’s something to add to our list.

Many of you started a good conversation here. Let’s keep that discussion going. Ideas, people. Let’s have them.

Let’s ensure Sandy Hook is the watershed moment.

Let’s ensure children don’t have to go armed into fortified compounds for their education.

Space and Time to Heal

If I can figure out how to do it, I want to post a delightfully science-ific parody of the “Gangnam Style” video here:

NASA Johnson Style

Okay, that didn’t seem to work.  But do click on the link, and enjoy a few minutes of sciency silliness.

Why?  Because I need time to think.  The first salvos against the USian violence culture are clear: keep assault-type weapons at gun ranges, and make mental health care easily accessible and a positive thing to access.  Just those will be difficult enough.  But Dana has called for nothing less than the eradication (or at least a great reduction) in the violence culture of our country, and thinking of ways to go about that makes my head hurt.

Meanwhile the video reminds me that there are lot of people doing good work for the sake of our country and our world.  They don’t negate the shooters of the country; they don’t reduce the violence.  But they do good, and in this climate, it’s proper to remember that some people go to work every day and do good (other than teachers; they go to work every day and do fantastic.)


A Few Important Items

Before we get back to our a semblance of our normal routine, I want to share a few things with you.

First, for those who want to help the Sandy Hook families with funeral expenses and paying for counseling, Atheists Giving Aid has set up a fund. You can donate here.

Roses at Avery Park, Corvallis, OR

Roses at Avery Park, Corvallis, OR: A reminder there are still beautiful things in the world.

I will have some more substantial things to say at a later time. I do know one thing: things here will change. We’ll still have our fun and our geology and so forth, but you’ll see more of a focus on social justice issues than before. This latest mass shooting crystallized the entirety of A+ for me. The reason why we need movements like A+ is because we have so damned much to fix. As I’ve said repeatedly over the past few days, there’s no single way to prevent these shootings. Getting an assault weapons ban passed is just taking the keys out of the drunk person’s hand – it will probably reduce the incidence, but it won’t eradicate the causes. We will never completely solve these problems. That’s no reason not to begin somewhere.

And on that subject, I literally cannot speak to people who refuse to hear word one about a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity clips. One of my friends, whom I love and know to be a good, caring person, argued with me on the way to work that even if we restrict those sorts of things to the gun range, people wanting to shoot up a school full of kids will just go fetch their guns. And I was so angry I was spluttering. It’s like hearing someone say, “Well, rapists are just going to break in anyway, so don’t even bother locking your doors.” “Well, people are just going to die in car crashes anyway, so you might as well give keys to anyone who wants them.” “Well, children are just going to find a way to get into the cabinet anyway, so we might as well not put drugs and cleaning products on the high shelf behind a lock, and to hell with child-safety caps.”

Add your analogy of choice here.

You know something, people who don’t think it’s even worth trying? I can’t even buy fucking pseudoephedrine. It’s locked up behind the counter, and I have to present ID and all kinds of bullshit, and by the time I need a cold medicine, it’s usually at a time when the pharmacists have gone home for the night, and I’m too fucking sick to chase down a 24-hour pharmacy. If I do manage to drag my sick arse to the pharmacy when the pharmacist is on duty, I have to present ID and put my name on a register where it will stay for two years saying, “ZOMG she bought a packet of Sudafed, she’s probably cooking meth!!!” I can’t buy as much as I want. I can’t stockpile the shit because I can’t buy enough of it in a month to even begin. I can hoard freeze-dried food and assault weapons and ammunition that is designed to kill humans (not shoot at targets or hunt deer, let’s don’t get stupid and pretend it’s anything but murder-inna-casing), but I can’t stock up on fucking cold medicine for the coming apocalypse.

And that’s not right, but only because guns and ammo aren’t subject to stringent restrictions. We’re willing to make it extremely difficult for sick people to get some decongestant because criminals use it to cook meth. They still cook meth, have been ever since the restrictions were put in place, but are we shrugging and saying, “Meh, they’re doing it anyway, might as well make it easier for them to get their hands on pseudoephedrine so I don’t have to suffer an extra five minutes’ worth of sniffles”?


And so when you say to me, “But killers will just find a way to get guns anyway,” what you are saying is that you don’t care about making it harder for them to get their hands on serious fucking weaponry. You don’t want to give them that extra bit of time to think things through as they drive to the gun range and get their guns out of their locker. You don’t want to give other people a chance to notice something’s up as Johnny Mass Killer goes bopping out the door of a busy range with enough weaponry to supply both sides in a small civil war. You don’t want to consider things like, oh, I don’t know, making it illegal to remove your very dangerous shoots-umpteen-rounds-a-second-people-killer-and-its-zillion-round-drum from the gun range and also putting tags on it that will set off an alarm if you try to waltz off with it? So that maybe, just maybe, one of those NRA nuts who thinks we should live like it’s the 1870s, only with less gun control, can have his chance to play hero as the cops are called? This is too much to ask to prevent horrific violence on our streets, in our schools, our malls, our theatres, our restaurants?

To my friends who say they’ll just find a way to get guns anyway: fuck you. On this issue, I think you are an appalling excuse for a human being.

Also, read this. Seriously, anyone who is against gun control, or who thinks they’re for it but then starts coming up with excuses as to why we shouldn’t do anything more than cosmetic bs, read this. Do it now. These are the things I would say to you if you hadn’t just reduced me to sputtering, incoherent rage.

Then read this. Read it all the way through to the ends, where it says, “I didn’t think, ‘Damn, I wish I had a gun, too.’ I thought ‘Damn, I wish he didn’t have a gun.'”

You know what? That’s exactly what I think every time I hear of some fuckwad shooting people. I thought it with Zimmerman, and Dunn, and all of the endless stories of some assclown getting quick with the trigger and taking some kid’s life because they were too loud, or too black, or both. I thought it when a mother came into my bookstore looking for books on how to grieve because a man had shot her teenage son for cutting across one small corner of his yard. I thought it when foreign exchange student Yoshihiro Hattori stopped by the wrong house on his way to a Halloween party, and ended up shot by a man who’d rather have his wife fetch a gun so he could shoot down a kid in a silly costume rather than go inside and lock the door if he was so frightened of the young Japanese dude. I’ve thought it every time I’ve heard of someone getting shot because they were careless, or foolish, or doing all the right things but still getting shot because guns are dangerous. I’ve thought it every time I’ve heard of a child getting killed because the parents couldn’t be bothered to properly secure their deadly weaponry. And I’ve thought it after every mass shooting.

There was a time when I thought a gun would make me safer. Right after I was raped at knifepoint in my home, I thought a gun might be a pretty good idea. Then I thought of the kids in the neighborhood, and my friends who sometimes like to pull pranks, and family members barging in unexpectedly, and pets making strange noises, and non-dangerous strangers making me nervous without realizing, and the fact that a gun would not have helped anyone but my rapist that morning, and I said, “Naw.” Not worth it. There were so many times I might have ended up taking someone’s life by mistake, and no time when a gun would have done me any good.

Now I just think, “I’m glad my rapist didn’t have a gun. I wish other assailants, I wish incautious people, I wish kids, hadn’t had one, either.”

And one last thing. Listen up, because a lot of people I otherwise love and respect have been making a bloody stupid mistake and I want it to stop:

Stop blaming mental illness for what Lanza did.

Seriously. Stop it.

We don’t know much about him yet and may never, but at this stage it’s not sounding like he was so terribly different from many of us. If these early reports are to be trusted (you know how that goes), he didn’t even play first-person shoot-‘em-up games. There goes another famous scapegoat. Oops.

There are no broad, bright and shining lines between us and them. Stop trying to paint one, because all you’re doing is tarring the vast majority of the mentally ill for being something they’re not. It doesn’t help us prevent these killings, it doesn’t help folks with mental illnesses, and it certainly doesn’t help your humanity.

That is all for today. Go do something good.