They’ve got a new album out — Besides — and so far I’m enjoying it immensely.
They’ve got a new album out — Besides — and so far I’m enjoying it immensely.
All the pro-gun folks flip the fuck out as soon as anyone mentions the possibility that perhaps it’s a little too easy to get ahold of one these days and they start screamin’ that THEY’RE COMING TO TAKE ALL OUR GUNS AWAY!
Fuck, they’ve been making that claim about Obama since before he was elected President and he’s been in office 6 years, 155 days, 20 hours, and 36 minutes (as of this post) and he has yet to propose even the smallest of gun legislation. That won’t stop the nuts from screamin’ he’s gonna do it any day now!
I think there is a reasonable discussion to be had on gun law reform, but we can’t have that discussion because of the knee-jerk reaction from the other side. It’s always amusing when I see the pic of the carpet knife show up with the quote about how the 9-11 hijackers used it to kill 3,000 people but no one is calling for a ban on carpet knives.
It’s just a tool and a gun is a tool and it’s the people that use it wrong that are the problem. That ignores the fact that when used properly a carpet knife doesn’t result in someone’s death whereas a gun when used properly is intended to kill something. Also you don’t have the high rates of suicide and accidental deaths with carpet knives that you have with guns, but, hey, other than that they’re exactly the same!
It is right about one thing: Gun control laws are about control. You’d think that would be obvious from the fact that we call them “gun control laws”, but apparently this is a stunning revelation to the pro-gun crowd. Also there’s more at stake than crime committed with guns. There’s also suicides and accidental deaths both of which are way more common with a gun in the home than with a carpet knife. When was the last time you read about some kid finding his dad’s carpet knife and accidentally slicing a sibling to death with it? Kids accidentally shooting each other happens almost weekly. We don’t even bat an eye at it anymore. So long as it’s not my kids killing each other than who cares? Those were obviously all irresponsible gun owners so they deserve what happened!
Back in 1996 after a mass-shooting at Port Arthur, Tasmania — a popular Australian tourist spot — left 35 people dead and 18 people seriously wounded the folks down under finally had had enough. Deciding that a decade of gun massacres that left over 100 people dead was more than enough, they enacted strict gun control laws. They outright banned rapid-fire rifles and shotguns, put in place tighter licensing requirements and set a uniform national standard for gun registration. They didn’t ban all guns and responsible people can still get a license and own guns.
The result? The risk of death from gunshot fell by 50% and has remained as such since. Gun buyback programs helped reduce the amount of suicides by firearms by 80%. In the 19 years since there hasn’t been another mass shooting. You’ll note that this doesn’t mean all gun violence has been eliminated, but it has been reduced significantly. The most recent incident they’ve had with an armed gunman was the 2014 Sydney hostage crisis where an armed man took 18 people hostage at a Lindt chocolate cafe for 16 hours. Near the end a gunshot rang out and the police stormed the cafe. Two hostages were killed, one by the gunman and one from a police bullet that ricocheted, the gunman was also killed. Four other folks were injured. So, yes, some gun violence still happens, but the outcome of that situation was a far cry from the Port Arthur massacre nearly 20 years before.
Among the wealthy, industrialized countries of the world — Australia, Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom (England and Wales), United Kingdom (Northern Ireland) and United Kingdom (Scotland) — the U.S. has a gun homicide rate 15 times higher than any of them. Some of those countries have some pretty strict gun control laws, but in most of them it’s still possible to own a gun. Our gun control is the loosest in the world and it shows.
As long as we continue on this path we will continue to have events like the Aurora theater shooting and the Newtown school massacre and the AME church rampage. I thought for sure that after 20 kids got killed in their school it would finally get the pro-gun folks to feel a little empathy, but nope! Fuck those kids! I ain’t givin’ up my Bushmaster rifle just because somebody else’s brats got shot up cause FREEDOM! What about the carpet knives?? Why aren’t you banning those? And cars! You can kill someone with a car! I ONCE SAW A MAN CHOKED TO DEATH WITH A MAGAZINE! WHY ARE WE STILL ALLOWING THESE DANGEROUS WEAPONS TO BE SENT THROUGH THE U.S. POSTAL SYSTEM????
Reasonable discussion is right out and until then it’ll be more of the same. Maybe someday the number of dead will be high enough to shock some sense into people, but it looks like there will be an awful price to be paid the way things are going.
For those of you who prefer to listen to a podcast (as opposed to watching it) your wait is finally over! I have converted the Back from the Dead podcast from Google Hangouts into an MP3 file. Complete with all the mistakes and glitches of the original! Don’t think of it as me being lazy. Think of it as it being a truly authentic experience!
You can download the file by clicking here or you can listen to it from this entry using the media player below.
It’s finally happened! Dave and I managed to find an hour to sit down and talk about politics and television while answering YOUR questions! It all happened LIVE in Google Hangouts where we even took a few comments and questions from the 2 people who watched it as it happened! If you didn’t get a chance to tune in (we didn’t exactly broadcast the time it was going to happen) you can still watch it below:
You can also watch it from the event page which you’ll find by clicking here and there you can vote for your favorite moments. I’ll be working to turn it into a standard MP3 podcast for those folks who prefer to listen without having to stare at the goofy faces Dave and I made at each other. We had a lot of fun and next time I think we’ll try to schedule it more concretely so we can make it a proper event and have more folks watching and commenting as we do it. Hopefully it won’t be another 3 years before we do the next one.
Hey, remember how way back in February I wrote a post about reviving the SEB Podcast and everyone was all like “that’s a great idea” and Dave was all “we should totally do that” and then the weeks passed and I posted updates that said it was still “totally going to happen”? Remember that?
Well it’s still totally happening. After months of Dave remodeling his kitchen and me packing up everything I own and moving to a smaller apartment and him being sick and me being lazy, we’ve both marked this Sunday as the day we’re totally going to do the podcast.
So, seeing as it’s been some time since I last asked you folks what you’d like to hear us chat about I thought I should put out the call once again. If you suggested something previously and still want to hear about that topic that’s fine, but if you’ve come up with an even better topic then now is your chance to let us know. Just leave a comment on this post or drop me an email and we’ll see if we can’t come up with something to say about it. Cause it’s totally gonna happen this weekend.
I keep meaning to blog about something, but this time I have a good excuse. We spent the last week packing up everything we own into a million different boxes where we won’t ever be able to find that one thing we need right this moment ever again. We did this because we were moving to a new apartment.
We didn’t want to move as we’ve been pretty happy in Ann Arbor, but the owners of the apartment complex we lived in (Mill Creek Townhouses) decided to hire Village Green to run their apartment complex a couple of years back and Village Green likes to think they can turn any apartment into a “luxury” apartment by putting in new cabinets, fancy lighting fixtures, and black appliances in the kitchens and raising the rent to an unholy level. When we first moved in we rented a 3 bedroom townhome with a basement for $1050 a month which was a stretch at the time, but Anne was working and we could afford it. When Courtney decided to move out to live with her mom so should could attend college in Grand Rapids a year later we moved down to a 2 bedroom with a basement that cost us a much more reasonable $735 a month. That was 5 years ago. In those years Village Green jumped our rent considerably each year such that my last year of rent was $1010 a month — almost as much as we paid for the 3 bedroom 6 years ago.
We ended up finding another 2 bedroom townhouse with a basement for $810 a month in Canton which, if you’ve been reading this blog since its inception, you may recognize as the town I lived in back when SEB first came into being. We lived in Canton from 1998 to 2005 and only left because that was the year of my first real bout of unemployment. It’s been 10 years and moving back feels a lot like going home to a place that (so far at least) seems to have only gotten better since we left. We’re losing about 100 square feet of living space in the move as the new apartment is slightly smaller than the old one. This is particularly noticeable in the kitchen where the fewer number of cabinets is significant, forcing us to make some decisions on what goes in the cabinets and what gets moved to storage in the basement. We’ll find a way to make it work, though, and I think we’ll be pretty happy. More importantly we’ll have a little more breathing room in the budget than we’ve had in a couple of years. If you have to leave someplace you were happy with it’s always nice to go to someplace else you were also very happy with.
Technically I was on vacation last week, but it sure doesn’t feel like it as we spent it trying to figure out what to put in which boxes and what to throw away and where the stuff we were keeping would go in the new place and hoping the movers we hired didn’t kill us for being the disorganized, messy, hoarding people that we are. Fortunately the movers were awesome as fuck and kicked much ass and told us that we had done an excellent job compared to a lot of their customers. I suspect they were just being nice, but they got all our crap loaded into their truck and unloaded in the new place in around 7 hours or so in heat that felt more like late August than late May. They even disassembled and reassembled our bed for us which was probably the thing I was most unqualified to do. If you live in Michigan and want to hire some professional movers we’d happily recommend Morse Moving and Storage as they did a kick ass job for us.
So that’s what we’ve been up to. We’re in the process of unpacking now which is going to be a long process, but we’ll get through it. We did decide to make the second bedroom into a Den for our computers instead of putting them in the basement like we did in AA. So now when I use my webcam there won’t be a tower of boxes behind me. Maybe I’ll try some actual vlogging now.
The Christian share of the U.S. population is declining, while the number of U.S. adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing, according to an extensive new survey by the Pew Research Center. Moreover, these changes are taking place across the religious landscape, affecting all regions of the country and many demographic groups. While the drop in Christian affiliation is particularly pronounced among young adults, it is occurring among Americans of all ages. The same trends are seen among whites, blacks and Latinos; among both college graduates and adults with only a high school education; and among women as well as men.
Specifically speaking, since the last time they came out with this report in 2007 the percentage of Americans identifying as Christian has dropped nearly 8 percentage points from 78.4% to 70.6% in 2014. That’s still a majority of Americans, but if this trend continues it won’t be that long before that’s no longer the case. Meanwhile, the Unaffiliated — a combination of atheist, agnostic, and “nothing in particular” — has jumped from 16.1% to 22.8% making it the fastest growing group. That works out to around 56 million people.
… this group — sometimes called religious “nones” — is more numerous than either Catholics or mainline Protestants, according to the new survey. Indeed, the unaffiliated are now second in size only to evangelical Protestants among major religious groups in the U.S.
The number of people self-identifying as Atheists has doubled from 1.6% to 3.1% and Agnostics are another 4%. That may not sound like much, but there are now more atheists in America than there are Hindus, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Muslims, Buddhists, or Jews.
While it’s true that the “nothing in particular” folks make up a majority of the Unaffiliated and many of them still consider themselves spiritual in some way, they’re on the decline as more and more of them come to accept the designation of Atheist or Agnostic.
As the unaffiliated have grown, the internal composition of the religious “nones” has changed. Most unaffiliated people continue to describe themselves as having no particular religion (rather than as being atheists or agnostics), but the “nones” appear to be growing more secular. Atheists and agnostics now account for 31% of all religious “nones,” up from 25% in 2007.
The main driving force in the increase of the Unaffiliated is generational replacement. Older religious folks are dying off while the younger generations just aren’t taking up religion like their parents did, but it’s not the only factor in play.
In addition, people in older generations are increasingly disavowing association with organized religion. About a third of older Millennials (adults currently in their late 20s and early 30s) now say they have no religion, up nine percentage points among this cohort since 2007, when the same group was between ages 18 and 26. Nearly a quarter of Generation Xers now say they have no particular religion or describe themselves as atheists or agnostics, up four points in seven years. Baby Boomers also have become slightly but noticeably more likely to identify as religious “nones” in recent years.
As the shifting religious profiles of these generational cohorts suggest, switching religion is a common occurrence in the United States. If all Protestants were treated as a single religious group, then fully 34% of American adults currently have a religious identity different from the one in which they were raised. This is up six points since 2007, when 28% of adults identified with a religion different from their childhood faith. If switching among the three Protestant traditions (e.g., from mainline Protestantism to the evangelical tradition, or from evangelicalism to a historically black Protestant denomination) is added to the total, then the share of Americans who currently have a different religion than they did in childhood rises to 42%.
By a wide margin, religious “nones” have experienced larger gains through religious switching than any other group. Nearly one-in-five U.S. adults (18%) were raised in a religious faith and now identify with no religion. Some switching also has occurred in the other direction: 9% of American adults say they were raised with no religious affiliation, and almost half of them (4.3% of all U.S. adults) now identify with some religion. But for every person who has joined a religion after having been raised unaffiliated, there are more than four people who have become religious “nones” after having been raised in some religion. This 1:4 ratio is an important factor in the growth of the unaffiliated population.
The study goes on to mention that interfaith marriages are more common now than they ever have been before and a large part of that is because there’s plenty of Christians out there who are marrying people in the Unaffiliated group.
There’s a lot more detail in the full report which is worth reading, but the upshot of it is that this is an ongoing trend for the better part of a decade that shows no signs of slowing. Given the huge number of Christians out there making an ass of themselves over things such as gay marriage — or making wedding cakes for gays — I fully expect the trend to continue.
Here’s a few more highlights that made me smile:
- Although it is low relative to other religious groups, the retention rate of the unaffiliated has increased. In the current survey, 53% of those raised as religiously unaffiliated still identify as “nones” in adulthood, up seven points since 2007. And among Millennials, “nones” actually have one of the highest retention rates of all the religious categories that are large enough to analyze in the survey.
- The percentage of college graduates who identify with Christianity has declined by nine percentage points since 2007 (from 73% to 64%). The Christian share of the population has declined by a similar amount among those with less than a college education (from 81% to 73%). Religious “nones” now constitute 24% of all college graduates (up from 17%) and 22% of those with less than a college degree (up from 16%).
- The Christian share of the population is declining and the religiously unaffiliated share is growing in all four major geographic regions of the country. Religious “nones” now constitute 19% of the adult population in the South (up from 13% in 2007), 22% of the population in the Midwest (up from 16%), 25% of the population in the Northeast (up from 16%) and 28% of the population in the West (up from 21%). In the West, the religiously unaffiliated are more numerous than Catholics (23%), evangelicals (22%) and every other religious group.
- More than a quarter of men (27%) now describe themselves as religiously unaffiliated, up from 20% in 2007. Fewer women are religious “nones,” but the religiously unaffiliated are growing among women at about the same rate as among men. Nearly one-in-five women (19%) now describe themselves as religiously unaffiliated, up from 13% in 2007.
One thing that’s clear is that the increase in the number of atheists and agnostics who are speaking up about their lack of belief is having an impact in changing minds. I suspect that our numbers are actually higher than this study says as a lot of the “no particulars” are probably atheists or agnostics who are “in the closet” for whatever reason. Hell, I’m willing to bet there’s more than a few self-identifying Christians/Muslims/Jews/etc. who are really closeted atheists and agnostics. That makes standing up all the more important.
So keep up the good work,everyone. We’re making a difference!