YouTube video “People who like martial arts and weapons are normal”

Well, some of them are. Some are assholes and some are downright dangerous. And some are capable of formulating comprehensive (though not perfect) argument for their point of view. I must say that I too don’t find watching people kicking spherical object around the field for 90 minutes even remotely entertaining.

However if we take “normal” in this context to mean “not different from any other group of people” then I would say the title is completely correct. Assholes and dangerous people are in any and all human congregations. The compounding problem here is that while a dangerous footballer will at the worst hurt one o their fellows on the playing field, a dangerous person with a gun can do much more damage.

I think I could have a reasonable discussion with Matt Easton, author of this video and I think he missed slightly a good opportunity to enhance his point by not wearing his “Fighters Against Racism” T-shirt in this one.

To me this is another issue that is not clear-cut black&white. We have a saying in Czech “Když dva dělají totéž, není to vždy totéž.” – When two (persons) do the same thing, it is not always the same thing.  It applies here.

The key difference is the attitude and intent. Weapon collectors will grumble about laws that restrict their hobby, but most of them will respect the law and for example limit their collecting to weapons of the type that is legal in their country and they will buy ammo and shoot only a the shooting range for example. They will not found and congregate in corporation-like organizations lobbying for complete abandonment of said laws . They will not amas  a load of super-modern weaponry and pallets of ammo to go with it. They will hunt the rare, the peculiar, the unique pieces.

It is possible to appreciate weapons for their aesthetics and technical intricacy and enjoy learning the skills to use them without ever hurting anyone, or ever wanting to hurt anyone. And it is possible to pursue such hobby even in a country with strict gun laws – only, like in any other hobbies, other people’s needs have to be taken into account and respected.

Behind the Iron Curtains Part 1 – Growing Up

These are my recollections of a life behind the iron curtains. I do not aim to give perfect and objective evaluation of anything, but to share my personal experiences and memories. It will explain why I just cannot get misty eyed over some ideas on the political left and why I loathe many ideas on the right.


Kids are kids everywhere, at least when they are not dying from malnutrition. In at least somewhat functioning society they like to play, run around and nag their parents with incessant questions about the mundane as well as the profound. “Mom, why is the grass green? Mom, why does rain fall down? Mom, what is a whore?”

Children in eastern bloc behind the iron curtains were not different. We liked to play and chat, and we did so whenever possible. But one thing that many children from that time shared, some more, some less was fear.

Fear of nuclear annihilation.

Later in life I learned that people in the West were afraid of those evil aggressive USSR commies who wanted to wipe them out and were held in check only by superior military power of magnificent NATO. Well, on our side of the border it was those trigger happy evil capitalists led by evil imperialist USA who were held in check by superior military power of magnificent Warsaw Pact. And in reality both sides committed war crimes and atrocities, there were no angels in the hot spots of the cold war.

Adults might have had their doubts and objections regarding the veracity of all this fear mongering, but for kids it was definitively all real. The regular “fallout drills” at school, regular alarm drills, signs how to react in case of nuclear attack hanging in every office. Once we were playing with my cousins in the garden and we heard a noise from the sky we did not know. What instantly gripped us was the fear that these are the nuclear missiles heading for Prague. Where I live this feeling was exacerbated by the very real presence of the iron curtains.

From every window of my house I see across the border to Germany. If I were to walk in a straight line in any direction from my property, I will end up in Germany within a day’s walk. Going mushroom hunting was allowed only in certain directions and certain areas of the forest were taboo. Big signs “Caution, State Border Ahead” everywhere. I still remember that one of the signs was riddled with bullet holes. The only time in my life I have seen a real thing riddled with bullets

And the curtains themselves…

Due to the signs and restrictions on movement, they were not usually seen in person and I never touched them. Mostly I knew they are there, somewhere in the forests. But the train track was driving very close o them, so whenever we were riding train to visit the inland, I could see them from the window.

Three meters high, double fence of razor wire. Roundup sprayed shooting corridors. And a macadam road for easy military access.

To a child, that was a terrifying sight. I loathe to see such structures being build again.

Gosh, How Responsible!

Dennis Alexander. SOURCE: KSBW.

More students get hurt, by someone who is oh so responsible with guns, you betcha.

A teacher who also serves as a reserve police officer accidentally fired a gun inside a Seaside High School classroom Tuesday, police said, and three students were injured.

Dennis Alexander was teaching a course about gun safety for his Administration of Justice class when his gun went off at 1:20 p.m. Alexander was pointing his gun at the ceiling when it fired. Pieces of the ceiling fell to the ground.

A news release from the Seaside Police Department said no one suffered “serious injuries.” One 17-year-old boy suffered moderate injuries when fragments from the bullet ricocheted off the ceiling and lodged into his neck, the student’s father, Fermin Gonzales, told KSBW.

The teacher had just told the class that he wanted to make sure his gun wasn’t loaded, when the gun fired, according to Gonzales. “It’s the craziest thing. It could have been very bad,” Gonzales said. The teacher was about to use the gun for a demonstration about how to disarm someone, according to Gonzales.

Everyone in the classroom was stunned, and the teacher, who is a reserve officer for the Sand City Police Department, apologized.

But no one at the school checked to make sure that all of the students were uninjured, Gonzales said. The school day resumed as normal, and Seaside Police Department officers launched an investigation. The 17-year-old boy’s parents were shocked when he returned home with blood on his shirt and bullet fragments in his neck. The student’s parents rushed him to a hospital for X-rays. “He’s shaken up, but he’s going to be OK,” Gonzales told KSBW. “I’m just pretty upset that no one told us anything and we had to call the police ourselves to report it.”

Alexander was placed on administrative leave from his teaching position at Seaside High School, and he was also placed on administrative leave at the Sand City Police Department.

There you have it. A cop. A teacher. And a gun in school ends up hurting students, go figure. One of these days, I’m going to eyeroll so hard my spine’s gonna pop out. The full story is here.

Colour Me Treasonous.

That godsdamned tiny, jumped up wannabe dictator is talking treason. Why? Oooooh, get this: people didn’t applaud.

Donald Trump on Monday suggested that Democrats could be guilty of treason because of their reaction to his State of the Union address.

Trump complained during a speech in Ohio that Democrats had not applauded during his State of the Union. The president said it was “un-American” of Democrats not to give him an ovation when he spoke about topics like unemployment.

“It was bad energy… even on positive news, really positive news, they were like death, and un-American,” he said.

“Someone said ‘treasonous.’ I guess, why not?” Trump added. “Can you call that treason? Why not. I mean, they certainly didn’t seem to love our country very much.”

“But you look at that, and it is really very, very sad.”

NOT ENOUGH FUCK YOU. Paint me treason colour, drape me in a treason flag, complete with all the treason accessories, and I’ll parade them all over the damn place. I already have one hell of an attitude going about all the tainted, toxic positivity crap, and now there’s this.

For the record, Donny Dipshit, no, you cannot call that treason. For fuck’s sake, have someone look it up in a dictionary and explain it to you, you brainless lump. “I guess, why not?” Aaauuuugggh. Because words have meanings. Concepts have meaning. You. Do. NOT. Get. To. Do. Whatever. You. Want.

There’s video at RawStory, if you want to punish yourself.

Uneffingbelievable.

Sheldon Whitehouse: MUST WATCH: Republican @SenJohnKennedy asks one of @realDonaldTrump’s US District Judge nominees basic questions of law & he can’t answer a single one. Hoo-boy.

“Hoo-boy” does not begin to cover this. At all. I wanted to reach right through the screen, and space-time, to insist on answering the questions with a yes or no. Absolutely no other words allowed. I’m a 60 year old artist in rural nDakota, and I know what a motion in limine is, because Law & Order. So, do I get to be a judge?

Then there’s just the waste. The waste of time. The waste of money. The waste of brain cells in indulging this farce.

Via Twitter.

There’s Always A Loophole.

BCD means – Bad Conduct Discharge.

Most people are aware of the Sutherland Springs, Texas shooting. The man who did the shooting, Devin Kelley, had been discharged from the USAF for domestic violence against his wife and child. After the court martial and a brief amount of prison time (1 year), Kelley was given a bad conduct discharge, which allowed for him to still own and purchase guns. A dishonorable discharge would have barred him from owning or purchasing guns.

Domestic violence and guns are deeply intertwined in America. The reason that at least one sensible restriction against gun ownership cannot be enacted, domestic violence conviction – no guns, is because it would strip too many cops of the right to carry a gun. The gun madness in this country is deep, and I don’t know how in the hell we can stop it, let alone change it. Especially when we have the Idiot King saying that more guns are needed, yes, more, more! The fucking idiot also went on to tar all people with mental illness, saying the shooter was deeply mentally ill. He wasn’t, he was angry.  The Tiny Tyrant is tweeting this utter crap from Japan, a country with very strict gun control, and guess what? Hardly any gun deaths at all:

In 2014 there were just six gun deaths in Japan, while there were 33,599 in the United States.

I’ll just let that sit there.

Via Raw Story, one, two.

In the meantime, a Fox Idiot said church is the ideal place to be shot dead:

Fox News host Ainsley Earhardt asserted on Monday that the dozens of people killed at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas had gone to the right place to be shot because they were close to Jesus at the time of their death.

The Violet Sister.

Louise Michel pictured at home in her later years, around the time she is presumed to have penned the piece translated below — Source.

A husky voice barked: “Entrez!”

Through a long, dim hallway, I followed the voice, until I reached a spare, curtained room. One empty chair stood near the entrance. Another, across the darkened space, was occupied by a slender, shadowed figure with erect posture, white hair long and flowing as in the fashion of the 1840s, in an elegant black suit, immaculate linens, a neckcloth of Persian design. A bright gaze set into a finely featured face pierced the gloom.

“Sit”, the figure commanded. As if under the influence of a powerful magnetizer, I sat without pause.

My host spoke sharply, gruffly. “Welcome, Mademoiselle. You have come to meet me, no? You wish to learn of my ideas, my thoughts. But should you not first know to whom you speak?” I nodded.

The figure straightened. “You wrote to Octave Obdurant. This is the name with which the person before you entered the Ecole Polytechnique. It is the name on my entrance papers to the Ecole de Ponts et Chaussées. It is the name with which I signed my first articles in geometry, my first statistical tables, as well as Free the Earth, which you were kind enough to notice.”

The voice was clear and occasionally guttural; there was a warmth beneath its unyielding syllables.

“But as you have certainly realized, this is not my true name.”

I felt my mind begin to spin. I was unsure of where I was, what I was doing here, in these isolated rooms. I stammered out:

“Excuse me, Monsieur. What, then, is your name?”

“I was baptized Tranchot.” Despite the pause which followed, the name meant nothing to me until it was repeated, with its prenames before it.

Marie Violette Tranchot.”

I was moved by an emotion of shock and recognition at once. Some part of me had already realized that I was not in the presence of a great man, but rather a great woman — no wizened brother of the struggle, but a sister. Instantly, I felt myself uncannily at home, safe at last in a place I’d never been — truly at home, perhaps, for the first time in my life. This hero, epitome of the courage and intelligence the world saw as masculine, was a woman like myself.

Fascinating reading, from Louise Michel, in Le Libertaire, iii, 1895. She writes about the Scoundrel Laws, and the paucity of an overly-praised history, and her meeting with Octave Obdurant.

You can read the whole thing at The Public Domain. Highly recommended.

On Postponing The 2020 Election.

Republican. A synonym for every evil thing.

A chilling new poll conducted by scholars Ariel Malka and Yphtach Lelkes, which they write about in the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog today, finds that not only do nearly half of Republicans falsely believe that President Trump won the popular vote in 2016 and that nearly 70 percent believe that “millions of illegal immigrants voted” in the election, but that  more than half would support postponing the 2020 presidential election “until the country can make sure that only eligible American citizens can vote” if Trump were to propose it.

Malka and Lelkes caution that this whole situation is hypothetical and that people’s views might be different if faced with the situation in reality. But they write that their findings, at a minimum “show that a substantial number of Republicans are amenable to violations of democratic norms that are more flagrant than what is typically proposed (or studied).”

It’s worth remembering that one of the many conspiracy theories that the right-wing media propagated about President Obama was that he would invent some kind of crisis in order to justify staying in office for a second term, or even indefinitely.

Just in case Trump doesn’t nuke us all to death, we can look forward to this shit. RWW has the full rundown on all the conspiracies which were rife when an actual President was in office.

On Being Arrested in Japan.

English cards translated from Japanese by Rachel Mimms.

Getting arrested is a scary experience in every country, but perhaps even more so in Japan, where the conviction rate is over 99%. Last month, the Japanese government passed a new anti-terror conspiracy law that has drawn controversy among Japanese citizens who feel it is a threat to civil liberties and privacy. Artist Megumi Igarashi (pen name Rokudenashiko), famously arrested in 2014 on charges of obscenity for distributing 3D data of her genitals, is creating a set of playing cards that educate people about what it’s like to be arrested in Japan.

Critics of the anti-conspiracy law claim it is too broadly worded and contains acts that have little to no connection to terrorism, such as: copying music, picking mushrooms in conservation forests, and competing in a motor boat race without a license.

No stranger to the absurdity of Japanese law, Ms. Igarashi is responding by making a tongue-in-cheek karuta card game set depicting scenarios of arrest and imprisonment in Japan partly based on her own experiences. Each one has a drawing humorously portraying the situation described on the other side of the card. Through these “jail cards,” players can learn about Japanese prison conditions, police interrogation, and testifying in court.

She has already posted 17 of these cards to her Twitter account and says she plans to create an entire set of 50 — one for each Japanese syllable — so that anyone can print them out and play along.

You can read and see more at Spoon & Tamago. Cop shops, same all over the world.

No More Reading On Planes?

Hrag Vartanian.

Oh, the TSA has come up with yet another of their unbelievably stupid ideas, and naturally, are quite enthused about it. All books and all paper of any kind will be pulled for extra scrutiny. Given the collective brain power of the TSA, this most likely means that a very high number of potential passengers will not be making their flight, but be locked up in a back room somewhere, while the crafty TSA agents attempt to figure out the reading material.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is testing new requirements that would oblige travelers to remove books and other paper goods from their carry-on baggage when going through airport security. The new proposal hasn’t gone into effect, though the TSA, which is an agency of the US Department of Homeland Security, has tested it at airports, including in early May, when screeners at a Kansas City airport “forced passengers to remove all paper from bags, down to notepads,” according to Wall Street Journal; The Sacramento Bee reported that the TSA also tested this policy in Sacramento.

[…]

TSA agents already have the authority to search what they want, and anyone who has been subject to extra screenings will know that notebooks and other books are often flipped through by agents, who sometimes even read their pages. That was the experience of artist Kameelah Janan Rashid, who was removed from a plane on her way to Istanbul in 2015. Yet this new policy, as outlined by Stanley, “would lead to more routine and systematic exposure and, inevitably, greater scrutiny of passengers’ reading materials in the course of the screening process.”

Henry Reichman, professor emeritus of history at California State University at East Bay and chair of the American Association of University Professors’ Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, told Inside Higher Ed that the screening change was troubling:

Academics are unsurprisingly big readers, and since we don’t simply read for pleasure, we often read materials with which we disagree or which may be seen by others as offensive. […] For instance, a scholar studying terrorism and its roots may well be reading — and potentially carrying on a plane — books that others might see as endorsing terrorism. In addition, because scholarship is international, I suspect academics are more likely than others to be reading and carrying material in foreign languages, which might arouse some suspicion. … Finally, academics (as well as editors and journalists) may well be carrying pre-publication materials — drafts for peer review or comment, etc. — and these could raise special concerns.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said in an interview with Fox News Sunday last month that the department “might and likely will” expand the new carry-on policy.

The Full Story is at Hyperallergic.

America: Draconian, Backwards, Doomed.

Shutterstock.

America, the experiment, is one that will fail. And no, this isn’t yet another report about the disastrous regime, which is simply yet another symptom of the failure in progress. It doesn’t matter that there a few states sprinkled here and there that you could consider progressive and social minded. The majority of states are not those things. A whole hell of a lot of people aren’t those things. Christianity is the biggest obstacle to social progress, morality, and humaneness. And no, I don’t give a shit if you’re a progressive, social minded christian. Until I see all of you busy, active, protesting, and lobbying against all the asshole christians, I don’t care what you say in private. Whatever you’re doing, it isn’t enough.

The insistence on puritanism rooted in misogyny is one big reason this lost country will continue to slide inexorably downwards. Too many Americans seem to think of the country as a church, and they should have the right to oppress and stomp all over certain people. Missouri is providing a fine example of this in action:

Missouri’s Senate is considering legislation that would allow employers and landlords to discriminate against women who use birth control or have had abortions. The bill, which has the support of the state’s governor, Eric Greitens, was approved by the Missouri House Tuesday.

Known as SB 5, the bill was first passed by the Senate on June 14 following a special session called by Greitens. His aim was to overturn an ordinance that prevents employers and housing providers from punishing women for their reproductive health choices, according to a report by Feministing, a feminist website.

The ordinance was passed by the city of St. Louis, and Greitens had said it made the area into “an abortion sanctuary city.” The Senate seemed to agree with him, as did the House, which on Tuesday passed an expanded version of SB 5 that included more anti-abortion restrictions. Given the Senate’s vote on June 14, it it seen as likely to approve the updated version of SB 5. This would mean that landlords could refuse to offer housing to women based on their reproductive health choices, while employers could fire female staff members who were using birth control, or refuse to hire them. And while of course this isn’t information most landlords or employers have access to, under SB 5 they could ask women what forms of reproductive health care they are using.

Yes, of course women could lie; that’s not the point though, is it? The mere fact that anyone could be given the authority to question you on your contraception use* or specific bits of your medical history ought to scare the living hell out of everyone, it should not be something enshrined in law, to say the least. Can you imagine anything of this kind of thing being applied and passed in regard to men?

* Not that most women will be able to afford contraception in the near future.

Full story here.

Says It All.

Philando Castile (What’s Trending).

Rep. Barbara Lee: #Philando Castile was shot in cold blood. The world watched it LIVE. What will it take for the justice system to value Black lives?

Do not go looking at the comments, unless you feel like spilling your stomach.

Be A King: This is why there’s the cry & movement, #BlackLivesMatter. It’s not anti-all lives mattering. It’s anti-#PhilandoCastile’s not mattering.

Shaun King: I must remind you that #PhilandoCastile never even broke a law. He wasn’t speeding. He was racially profiled and pulled over for being Black.

Ox: I live in a country where cops can kill me & go home for dinner. But if we don’t stand for the nat’l anthem it’s a problem.

Via Raw Story.