The following is part of a discussion I’ve been having on the issue of gun control in the USA. Where

I’ve read the article, which appears to focus more on the left/right political divide in the US, rather than focusing on the problem of gun crime and how to stop it. The fact remains – the USA has a bigger problem with gun crime than any other developed nation – you cite Plano in Texas, yet ignore the wider, national comparisons – such as the USA having a homicide rate more than twice as high as France, and nearly six times that of Japan.

https://www.unodc.org/documents/gsh/pdfs/2014_GLOBAL_HOMICIDE_BOOK_web.pdf

Whilst it’s true that crime rates in the US have been falling, it remains true that firearms form a major percentage of homicides – in 2011, firearms were actually used in 68% of murders. https://www.nij.gov/topics/crime/gun-violence/Pages/welcome.aspx#note1

https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011

https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2011/jan/10/gun-crime-us-state

It remains the case that US homicide rates, including those committed by firearms, remain substantially higher than in other developed nations – https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/14/upshot/compare-these-gun-death-rates-the-us-is-in-a-different-world.html

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jun/21/gun-control-debate-mass-shootings-gun-violence

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-34996604

According to the FBI, in 2014, out of 11,961 homicides, over 8,000 of those involved a firearm. Also note that this ratio of more than 50% of total homicides (in fact, we’re looking at two thirds) is pretty consistent from 2010 to 2014. https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2014/crime-in-the-u.s.-2014/tables/expanded-homicide-data/expanded_homicide_data_table_8_murder_victims_by_weapon_2010-2014.xls

So whilst in your initial use of the FBI data you refer to the rifle, but ignore the overall picture of how guns contribute to the homicide rate.

Let’s also look at legislation per state. Mississippi, as per 2015, had a firearm death rate of 19.6 out of 100,000 – it’s worth pointing out that these figures probably include suicide and accidents, however this issues only serve to add to the idea that greater gun control is necessary, to prevent these problems as much as homicides. (source – https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/sosmap/firearm_mortality/firearm.htm) Mississippi also has some lax laws on guns (https://www.theguardian.com/world/interactive/2013/jan/15/gun-laws-united-states).

Mississippi is currently a Republican state. It voted Republican in 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016.

Let’s look at another state. Alabama. Again, 19.6 gun deaths per 100,000 people. Alabama is also pretty slack on gun control laws. Again, Alabama has voted Republican at the last election, and has done so since 1976. Another state with a serious problem with gun deaths is Louisiana, with 20.4 per 100,000. Once again, gun laws are weak, and once again, from 2000 onward the state has voted Republican.

Let’s delve deeper. Alaska has the worst mortality rate as a result of guns of all US states. 23.4 deaths per 100,000 people. Alaska voted Republican at the 2016 elections, and has voted Republican for several of comparatively recent elections (back to at least 1980, I stopped checking at that point). No licence is required to carry a handgun, even openly or concealed, in Alaska. So in fact, the top four states listed by the CDC site are all Republican states and all have comparatively weak gun control laws.

Make that the top five. Wyoming has comparatively weak gun laws, and has voted Republican since at least 1968.

Montana, similar situation to Wyoming, in every respect. Next is New Mexico, the first state to have any meaningful and recent history of voting Democrat. Behind New Mexico is Missouri, the first state on the list to have enacted any meaningful regulations. Missouri has a mixed voting history but is currently Republican.

So 7/8 states – the eight worst states for gun deaths – are Republican and the top seven states all have slack gun control laws. In many states, irrespective of their voting history, it’s the states with the weakest rules that have the highest death rates. You may say it’s not fair to include suicides and accidents in these figures, but if these deadly weapons were not so easily available, would the casualty rate be so high?

The fact remains (and it’s one you haven’t addressed), there are more homicides in the USA – substantially more – than in other developed countries that have more robust laws in place. You may point to an article on violent crime in the UK – are you going to compare the figures to Australia, Japan, France and Germany? Are you going to present the figures for violent crime in the USA, and the weapons involved?

The Vegas killer was able to legally purchase 49 weapons. Let that sink in. Why would anyone need 49 weapons, and why would this not somehow send up a flare to the authorities? The system is failing, mass shootings continue to happen, the USA continues to have higher homicide rates (both with guns and overall) than many other developed nations, and yet the focus is always on ‘Constitutional rights’. There are 59 people in Vegas, and over 30,000 every year, who pay the ultimate price for that right.

https://www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/press-releases/fbi-releases-2016-crime-statistics

What the above link reveals is that from 2015 to 2016, violent crime in the US actually increased. I quote:

The estimated number of violent crimes in the nation increased for the second straight year, rising 4.1 percent in 2016 when compared with 2015 data, according to FBI figures released today. Property crimes dropped 1.3 percent, marking the 14th consecutive year the collective estimates for these offenses declined.

The 2016 statistics show the estimated rate of violent crime was 386.3 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants, and the estimated rate of property crime was 2,450.7 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants. The violent crime rate rose 3.4 percent compared with the 2015 rate, and the property crime rate declined 2.0 percent.

All figures below are based on violent crime per 100,000 people.

Worst city for violent crime: St Louis Missouri, 1817.1. Missouri has weak gun laws.

2nd is Detroit, with 1759.6, in the state of Michigan, which also has weak gun control measures.

3rd is Memphis, with 1740.1 in the state of Tennessee, which again, has slack regulations in many respects.

4th is Milwaukee in Wisconsin, with 1596.1 reported incidents of  violent crime. Wisconsin is not noted for robust gun control measures.

Meanwhile, California, with some of the most robust controls in the USA, has, under violent crime measurements, four entries in the top ten for having low rates of violent crime.

The worst two cities for rape are Anchorage in Alaska and Cleveland in Ohio. Louisiana in New Orleans is 3rd and Minneapolis in Minnesota is 4th. All four states have comparatively weak gun control laws. Once again, three of the top ten safest cities for rape are in California.

Someone at work regularly brings in a copy of The Sun newspaper and each day, without fail, there is the jibe/inference that if you voted to remain in the EU you are A: a ‘Remoaner’ (gee, how witty) and B: for daring to voice concerns over Brexit, you are unpatriotic. There is one particular columnist (I forget his name) who makes this his ‘go-to’ position, along with the idea that Brexit will free us – because somehow, we’re oppressed?

Now, I voted remain, not because I hate my country, far from it. I voted remain because I love my country and wanted (and still do want) what’s best for it. In the uncertainty and lack of clarity (from both sides) during the run up to the referendum, I didn’t see any compelling argument to leave. We were trading our economic security for the illusion of greater sovereignty – and there remains a great deal of uncertainty now we’re trying to negotiate a deal.

Already that uncertainty is hurting us. I work in retail, so I am all too aware of what this slowdown looks like. Everyone where I work has seen a drop in income due to a drop in footfall, as consumers are wary of committing to expensive purchases, at a time when they don’t know what the future holds. One of my former employers actually abandoned the UK market, with Brexit cited as part of the reason.

So if in the weeks and months ahead, I express concern over this whole thing, I do so because I love my country.

Sometimes life will give you a jolt that reminds you of what’s important and what matters. Today, I received news which served as such a jolt. I’m not going to go into detail, out of respect for the people involved, but it involves people I value as good friends and very serious news. Thankfully, the news is not as bad as it could have been, but it has given me cause to stop and think about what’s important. Cherish your loved ones – value every moment you spend with them.

I’d meant to post this a few days ago but got sidetracked. I am now into my third month in my new job and I am starting to settle in, with the results starting to show this too. I had a review today, which went well and gives me renewed confidence. Some nice orders have seen me jump to one of the top performers in the store for the financial month – though we are of course only in the early stages, so I am working hard to maintain that performance. Let’s keep going!

I’ve been accused of running a hate site. Specifically, a hate site against this fellow. It’s true that we have had several disagreements and it’s true we have exchanged harsh words in the past, but what’s not true is that I have ever ran a site that directed hatred toward him. Such accusations have never been substantiated, nor do I expect them to be from an individual who I consider to be dishonest.

This is the page from a long defunct page that criticised his arguments and behaviour. It should be noted that criticism does not equal hate, unless your ego is so fragile (or bloated) that you can’t separate the two. When this individual decides to tweet stuff like this:

Well, he crosses the line into slander/libel, if he were in an actionable scenario. Yes, this is the same person behind the deliberate and divisive ‘True Trek’ nonsense, as per here. My simple challenge to him, should he read this, is to provide actual, definitive proof that I have ever ran a ‘hate site’. I don’t expect such proof to appear because such a site never existed.

Updated 10/02/18: apparently, despite pledging to block me, we still have a few misleading comments coming up on Twitter:

For reference, his #Talifan hashtag is a deliberate link to ‘Taliban’, part of his now famous poisoning of the well approach, whereby association with pretty much anyone from Stardestroyer.net is enough to be considered a fanatic. His comparison between members of the forum who had the nerve to disagree with him and the Taliban is simply outrageous, but alas, it is also not surprising.

If they should read this post, then, ST-V-SW, this is an open call for you to prove your allegations about hate sites, or for you to retract said allegations. No vague, unsupported notions – prove it. You can find me right here, anyone is free to comment at any point, and I know you are versed in the Wayback Machine, so you can archive any discussion for posterity, and if I edit it, it will obviously look bad for me.

nintendo-switch

Now I know what you’re thinking. ‘He’s mad, the Switch is a huge success!’ Yes it is, having already sold more units inside of its first year than the Wii U managed across its entire lifetime. Nintendo are reporting better profits than expected because of the Switch’s performance. So what, you may ask, is the problem? The problem is, what happens next?

Nintendo have been down this path before. When they launched the Wii, it proved to be a dramatically different console to what Sony and Microsoft were producing. It was a massive success, selling 100 million units worldwide. What followed was a disaster, with Nintendo muddying the waters and enduring a miserable failure in the form of the Wii U. Are you beginning to see where I am going with this? Nintendo have always been quirky and different, with mixed results – or have they?

At one point, Nintendo were doing what Sony and Microsoft are doing now – looking at the power and performance of their hardware and using it to the best of their ability. Nintendo had a battle with Sega during the late 80s and early 90s that produced the brilliant SNES console and then the Nintendo 64. After this, as Sony’s PlayStation began to gather momentum and the X-Box arrived on the scene, Nintendo completely abandoned this approach, moving on to the Game Cube, a console that was reasonably powerful but reliant on unique discs that made developers jump through extra hoops. The Cube couldn’t play music or movies either – as consoles started to diversify what they could do, Nintendo refused to move down the same path.

SwitchHandHeld

Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with not following the herd. Nintendo did something original with the Wii and it worked fantastically for them. The Switch is another clever idea that’s so far, working brilliantly. The risk factor is that Nintendo’s next console tries too hard, like the Wii U. The Wii U almost drove Nintendo out of the console market, something that would have been, in my humble view, a massive loss to the industry.

I get that Nintendo want to be different and have a distinct approach compared to their competitors, however both Sony and Microsoft have had consistently good sales for years now. It’s a formula that works. There’s no reason why Nintendo can’t produce something similar – just imagine a console with the power of a PlayStation or X-Box, merged with Nintendo’s unique exclusives like Mario, Zelda, Pokémon and Star Fox. For me, Nintendo’s next venture needs to be something along those lines, if they are to stay in the game.

 

I am not an easy-to-anger person. I like to believe I am quite calm, even if I have my moments. However I have zero time or tolerance for this:

No, you didn’t read that wrong, he really does claim that child porn is a victimless crime. I hope I don’t have to explain to anyone why this is not true.

When challenged on his stance, he said this:

In relation to the Glee actor Mark Salling:

Then there’s this:

I am at a loss for words.

The seventeenth (yes. 17th) entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe is arguably Thor’s most fun adventure so far, whilst the film manages to set the stage for this summer’s biggie, without losing its own identity.

Ragnarok stretches Thor and tests him in a manner that we haven’t really seen so far, whilst his relationship with brother Loki remains as complex and at times, awkward as ever. It is in their moments together where Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston shine as an odd couple – by now the two have known each other for years and their on-screen chemistry is satisfying to watch.

Thrown into this mix is Kate Blanchett as the evil Goddess of Death Hela. It is fair to say she steals every scene she appears in, relishing her role as the villain and providing a deliciously menacing character. Alongside Blanchett as a new addition to the MCU is Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster, overseer of the arena where Thor will eventually battle Hulk – Goldblum is quite likeable in this role, even if he often seems to end up playing himself. We get a good dose of the Hulk in this movie, as the Hulk – Mark Ruffalo gets to sink his teeth into Banner’s green alter-ego a little more than usual. Finally, Tessa Thompson stars as Valkyrie, a member of an elite cadre of Asgardian warrior women who ends up on the wrong side of the tracks, so to speak.

The spectacle is impressive and by now the effects well and truly polished. Added to this is a good soundtrack and some jokes that do manage to push the envelope for a 12A film, yet fall short of being truly out of line. This is, despite the stakes, Thor at his most relaxed, whilst the film bookends itself quite nicely and stays true to the idea of Ragnarok itself. I would dare say the film is worth it for Benedict Cumberbatch’s cameo at the start – which provides quite a bit of entertainment!

9/10