The Myth of Police Protection & the Importance of Gun Ownership

The riots clearly showed that the police cannot protect you. I don’t say that to demean the police in any way. It’s just a numbers thing. There aren’t enough police to deal with the mob if the mob decides they want to attack.

The mob did attack here in New York City. They looted and burned and destroyed. They set a building on fire next to where I live. Multiple police vehicles drove right past them as they looted. I can’t imagine they didn’t see the hordes of people. They didn’t try to stop it. Not because they didn’t want to, but because they had other issues they were trying to deal with already. They were overwhelmed. I’m just glad the FDNY showed up in time to put out the fire before it took the whole building or jumped to our building.

In the news there were plenty of videos of store owners standing guard with guns, both black and white. There were also videos (mostly mocking) of white people with guns standing guard around their neighborhoods. People were mocking them (especially the white people with guns) as if they were stupid or doing something wrong or borderline illegal, but they protected themselves and their property. They still have homes and businesses while others do not. Why? Because the police can’t respond to every call when the mob starts to riot and those business owners and homeowners ensured their own safety with their own guns.

The Left wants to take away people’s guns. The Left wants to riot. The Left doesn’t want people to be able to defend themselves against roaming mobs. The Left wants to defund police departments. The Left wants to be able to attack people with impunity and also be the ones to dole out their own brand of justice through “community enforcement teams”.

These riots showed that gun ownership isn’t just a Constitutional right, it’s a necessity.

We need more of this:

Signal to Noise Ratio Online

This week was much quieter than previous weeks. It’s not that there isn’t as much going on. I suppose it’s just that I’m tuning it out more and focusing on my own issues. Caring about other people’s problems is a luxury and a burden, and sometimes that burden just gets tiring.

What I mean is that there are people on social media platforms that are constantly whining about the plight of some particular group of people or vociferously advocating some political agenda. There’s so much spin online that it’s a chore to try to find content that doesn’t suck and to sort through the noise in the responses to see if there’s anything meaningful.

I’d like to think that there was some magical era in the Internet’s past when this type of behavior didn’t exist. I remember trash talking in AOL chat rooms in the late 90’s. I remember griefing in MMO chats in games like Ultima Online and World of Warcraft. But it wasn’t this widespread and pernicious. It was localized. It was something you could turn off and walk away from and it was separate from your real life. Or at least that’s how it felt.

Probably three things led to the escalation and spread of the problem: smartphones, more widespread social networks like Twitter and Facebook, and the idea that you should use your real name online and “put yourself out there”, which later evolved into the idea of building your “personal brand” online.

The idea that you could turn yourself into a “brand” and attract attention led to polarization to gain and influence people politically, which fueled the spread of conspiracy theories and crackpot ideas on all ends of the political spectrum. And of course there are all the idiots eating tide pods and creating challenges to monetize their notoriety.

I had this idea when I was a kid that the Internet was going to help me learn things and that I would meet interesting people from all over the world that could teach me how to be a better person. In some cases that’s true, but there’s a lot more chaff than wheat in the field.

I guess I need to put more effort into curating the content that I look at, but the Internet seems geared towards overcoming people’s personal preferences to push sensationalized content for ad revenue. I would like to believe that if the barrier for self-hosting content (like, on a server in your house) were lowered both in terms of education and hardware/access costs (some ISPs charge extra to open the ports necessary for a home server to connect to the Internet) then we could overcome a lot of this BS, but I also feel like this somehow ties in to larger issues of wealth disparity and that some people are willing to push anything online if it’s going to make them money.

Maybe I’m just getting old and this is the equivalent of wanting young people to stop playing their boomboxes so loud, but I hope that one day the Internet is more than it is today in terms of quality.

A coronavirus kind of weekend

Relaxing Jazz Piano Radio - Slow Jazz Music - 24/7 Live Stream - Music For Work & Study

With all of the extra time I’ve been able to search around online for nice channels on YouTube, freebies, and stuff like that. The station above has some really smooth, low key jazz. It’s fantastic as background music in the afternoon while doing other things around the house. Work. Reading. Chores. Laying on the bed with the cats. Whatever.

Another weekend at home. We stayed in, except for my wife going downstairs to feed a stray cat near our building. We look out the window and we see people on the train platform going out, but it just doesn’t make sense to us in the long run. I’d rather pass on a weekend out now and be alive for many years of weekends out in the future.

Corona-chan as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

I introduced my Mom to Corona-chan. She thought it was pretty neat, and especially appreciated this particular image:

The shortages continue online. It’s starting to get annoying because I’m about to run out of all purpose flour. What the hell is going on that flour has been out of stock everywhere for so long? What are people doing with all of that flour? I need flour to make biscuits. My wife needs flour to make banana pudding.

Spent time yesterday while watching “Shtisel” to look for a new wallpaper background for my phone. Finally settled on the image above. It’s clean and elegant looking and it doesn’t interfere with the visibility of the app icons.

I miss going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Coronavirus Journal: Day 34 – Disconnecting from the news, cheap lunches, and deerlingo

A watercolor painting of lovely toilet paper

So, I’ve reached the point now where I’m not checking the case and death figures as often because the numbers have gotten so high that it’s really hard to think about that in terms of trying to make it real. You know what I mean? You can picture a few hundred people, but when you start talking about tens of thousands sick and thousands of deaths, it gets a little abstract.

The result is that the pandemic is starting to feel a little more unreal to me. I mean, I know it’s real because I can see out my window that there really isn’t much going on. I see the lines and shortages at the grocery stores. I see the notifications from live streams on YouTube with news updates from Cuomo and De Blasio. But it just feels like we’ve hit the new normal. This isn’t weird anymore. This is just how it is.

NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo announces negative number of ICU admissions in the state

Cuomo was saying in a news conference that the numbers of new hospitalizations are plateauing and that we have probably “flattened the curve”, but that deaths are going to continue in high numbers every day because these are people that were infected largely before social distancing measures were put in place.

I feel that people should have accurate information, but I also think that making people think things are getting better is going to make stupid people go out and do reckless things, sending the situation spiraling back out of control. Hopefully that doesn’t happen this weekend.

The last time I posted, I mentioned something about wanting to go out. I did, but not to ride my bike. The mayor canceled his open streets project so there’s really nowhere around here to go to ride my bike that feels safe, even with the reduced traffic. It’s still the Bronx. So, oh well. I really need to stop screwing around and figure out an indoor workout routine. I’m starting to really feel the wobbliness in my legs while doing routine things around our apartment and that’s not going to work.

DOE free meals in New York City

What we did do, though, was go check out the city’s DOE free food effort. When this all kicked off, the city was handing out free breakfasts and lunches to school kids, I guess to help make up for the loss of that resource for parents. School food is cheaper to pay for than groceries. So, makes sense. But I’m thinking that not enough people were showing up and they were throwing food away, so they opened up the free food to people of all ages.

I wasn’t expecting a gourmet meal, but I was thinking something along the lines of salisbury steak, instant potatoes, fresh broccoli, maybe greasy burgers, or fried chicken. You know. Food. What we got was an approximation of food that really helped me understand why so many kids have nutrition problems in the US.

We went over to PS 306 on Tuesday around 1:00 PM. We walked in and there was no one there. First red flag. We started to walk beyond the lobby and two employees waved us off and pointed us at some insulated bags sitting on folding tables in the corner of the lobby. Second red flag. Instead of prepared food, the insulated bags were filled with clear plastic grab bags of prepackaged items.

Turns out that some were for lunch and some were for breakfast.

The breakfast bag included:

  • a cheap muffin that was overly moist, squashed, and had no taste
  • frozen strawberries and sugar in a cup (basically a big cup of poor quality strawberry jam)
  • a knock-off of Yoohoo! chocolate drinks

The lunch bag included:

  • a ham and cheese sandwich
  • another of the nasty strawberry things that I guess you’re supposed to eat straight since there was nothing to spread it on
  • a small cup of green beans that were clearly from a can
  • another of the chocolate drinks
  • a package of off brand chocolate fudge chip cookies

First off, the only thing that was edible was the sandwich. Second, you should be seeing a pretty clear theme there: sugar, sugar, and some more sugar. And it all tasted bad. These meals have almost no nutritional value. I don’t understand how they can be served in a school.

If I really found myself in a position where I absolutely needed to get free food, I would rather use any other resource. This stuff would probably make a person sick in the long run. No wonder no one was showing up. The only thing it’s fit for is wasting taxpayer money, justifying some people’s jobs, and filling waste bins.

God help the people that actually need to eat this every day.

Just yuck. No. Plain rice and canned tuna with salt would be a better option.

Not hoarding, just higher demand

Speaking of groceries, I finally put something together earlier this week when I was at the grocery store and noticed that shelves are still empty. It’s not really that people are hoarding now; it’s just that they’re home. People aren’t at work so they’re not buying lunch at a restaurant. They’re not going out to eat so they’re cooking at home. There’s a much higher demand for groceries and the supply chain is still trying to catch up with that increase, so there are shortages of some items.

That being said, we haven’t run out of anything. Or at least anything that we can’t either do without anyway or replace by going to the grocery store. We’re going out less often though, so we’re using this as an opportunity to actually eat the food in our cabinet and rediscover old favorites, like our Bialetti and Cafe Bustelo espresso:

Bialetti Moka Color coffee pot and two Le Creuset espresso mugs with freshly brewed coffee.
Some bright points for me this week are:
  • After finishing “Unorthodox” and getting into “Shtisel”, I’ve rediscovered my interest in Hebrew. Plus they’re both great shows.
  • I found an app called Coursera with free college-level content
  • Found a new (to me) app called Lingodeer to help me learn foreign languages
  • Had some time to play Overwatch and Legend of Zelda: BotW.
  • Finished an awesome book by Adam Makos called Spearhead: An American Tank Gunner, His Enemy, and a Collision of Lives In World War II
I don’t even remember what map this was, but I love the small details they added to make things a little more immersive and fun in Overwatch.
A screenshot from Lingodeer. I like that you can turn off “romaji” in the settings. I obviously hadn’t done that when I took this screenshot, but turning off romaji forces me to read the Japanese scripts.

One of my goals this year is to actually make significant progress in learning at least Japanese and hopefully Spanish and/or Tagalog as well. I’m a little disappointed that Tagalog isn’t offered as a “premium” language in language learning apps. The course in Memrise is a community course and the kid doing the audio for the words sounds like he’s not really happy about it. I feel like it was probably some project or a thing his parent made him do.

Note: Featured image is a watercolor painting of lovely toilet paper.

Coronavirus Journal: Day 30 – UBI and Universal Health Care

I was lying in bed earlier after working remote all day, just watching the sun go down while the room got dark. It’s kind of depressing being inside all the time, even with lots of stuff to do. Not so much because I’m inside, but because of the circumstances. It’s not as much fun when you have to do it. I miss going to Central Park and to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I mean, sure I could still go to Central Park but I’d have to ride the train, which almost guarantees catching the coronavirus, and the park is too full anyway. It’s also not worth the risk.

It’s not just older people dying. It’s young people too. Couples dying together. It really makes me think about what I’m doing with my time. It makes me wonder what would happen if one or both of us passed away. Who would take care of our cats? Our stuff? Our only nearby relative is my mother and she’s essentially trapped in lower Manhattan because of COVID-19.

It makes me wonder if we shouldn’t move and get the hell out of New York City. This place is a death trap right now. Even once this clears up, it’s just going to come back in the Fall. And if it isn’t COVID-19, it’ll be COVID-20, or some other deadly virus that will wreck the city because of the amount of international travel.

One of the ironies of this situation is that it has really hammered home to people how important it is to have a steady source of income that is independent of hourly wages. We can’t all be rich people living off stocks, and even if we could, maybe that wouldn’t be any better considering the stock market tanked too.

UBI isn’t such a bad idea. It works for Saudi Arabia. It works for Alaska. It could work everywhere else in the US too. We’d just have to close a few corporate loopholes. And in the end it would even be better for those companies, because there would be enough cash in the lower and middle classes to keep the companies afloat during hard times.

We’re working our way up to doing UBI already with cash payouts. The lockdown was extended to the end of April, so what happens when May rent comes due? The $1200 wasn’t even enough for April rent after all in major cities.

I think it’s clear now we also need universal healthcare. And that it’s not a bad thing. It would take some serious cognitive dissonance to say it’s ok to make COVID-19 treatment free, but to say it’s ok for people to be left to die from other illnesses.

Anyway, my hours are irregular. I’m basically on call. If I work tomorrow or not, I’ll be alright, but I need to get out and get some fresh air. I’m hoping to squeeze in a bike ride. There’s not much traffic, so it might be alright to ride in the roads around here for a change.