Monday, October 9, 2017

Figures never lie, but liars often figure

Here are some interesting figures that Ted Nugent, the musician who is a well-known advocate of gun ownership rights, posted on Facebook:

There are 30,000 gun-related deaths per year by firearms in the U.S., and this number is not disputed. The U.S. population was 324,059,091 as of Wednesday, June 22, 2016. Do the math: 0.000000925% of the population dies from gun-related actions each year. Statistically speaking, this is insignificant! What is never told, however, is a breakdown of those 30,000 deaths, to put them in perspective as compared to other causes of death:

• 65% of those deaths are by suicide, which would never be prevented by gun laws
• 15% are by law enforcement in the line of duty and justified
• 17% are through criminal activity, gang and drug-related, or mentally ill persons - gun violence
• 3% are accidental discharge deaths

So technically, "gun violence" is not 30,000 annually but drops to 5,100. Still too many? Well, first, how are those deaths spread across the nation?

• 480 homicides (9.4%) were in Chicago
• 344 homicides (6.7%) were in Baltimore
• 333 homicides (6.5%) were in Detroit
• 119 homicides (2.3%) were in Washington D.C. (a 54% increase over prior years)

So basically, 25% of all U.S. gun crime happens in just 4 cities. All 4 of those cities have strict gun laws, so it is not the lack of law that is the root cause.

This basically leaves 3,825 for the entire rest of the nation, or about 75 deaths per state. That is an average because some States have much higher rates than others. For example, California had 1,169 and Alabama had 1.

Now, who has the strictest gun laws by far? California, of course, but understand, it is not guns causing this. It is a crime rate spawned by the number of criminal persons residing in those cities and states. So if all cities and states are not created equally, then there must be something other than the tool causing the gun deaths.

Are 5,100 deaths per year horrific? How about in comparison to other deaths? All death is sad and especially so when it is in the commission of a crime but that is the nature of crime. Robbery, death, rape, assault are all done by criminals, and thinking that criminals will obey laws is ludicrous. That's why they are criminals.

But what about other deaths in the U.S. each year?

• 40,000+ die from a drug overdose
• 36,000 people die per year from the flu, far exceeding the criminal gun deaths
• 34,000 people die per year in traffic fatalities (exceeding gun deaths even if you include suicide)

Now it gets good.

200,000+ people die each year (and growing) from preventable medical errors. You are safer in Chicago than when you are in a hospital.

710,000 people die per year from heart disease. It's time to stop the double cheeseburgers! What is the point? If the anti-gun movement focused their attention on heart disease, even a 10% decrease in cardiac deaths would save twice the number of lives annually of all gun-related deaths (including suicide, law enforcement, etc.). A 10% reduction in medical errors would be 66% of the total gun deaths or 4 times the number of criminal homicides.

So you have to ask yourself, in the grand scheme of things, why the focus on guns? It's pretty simple: Taking away guns gives control to governments.

The founders of this nation knew that regardless of the form of government, those in power may become corrupt and seek to rule as the British did by trying to disarm the populace of the colonies. It is not difficult to understand that a disarmed populace is a controlled populace.

Thus, the second amendment was proudly and boldly included in the U.S. Constitution. It must be preserved at all costs.

The next time someone tries to tell you that gun control is about saving lives, look at these facts and remember these words from Noah Webster: "Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed, as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword, because the whole body of the people are armed and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States. A military force at the command of Congress can execute no laws, but such as the people perceive to be just and constitutional, for they will possess the power."

Remember, when it comes to "gun control," the important word is "control," not "gun."

[Here endeth the reading of the Facebook post. Yup, you weren't reading me, you were reading Ted Nugent.]

The most unbelievable figure in that piece -- my jaw almost hit the floor -- is "Alabama had 1." If that is not a downright lie, it is a whopper of a typographical error.

I did a little digging on my own. You might be interested in seeing what another group says about gun deaths in Alabama.

Here's another one.

Perhaps we are comparing apples and oranges. Then again, perhaps not.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Dream a little dream with me

Your ship finally came in and there was not a dock strike, so there are no impediments to your receiving the huge fortune bequeathed to you by your Great-uncle Alphonse. You didn’t even know that you had a Great-uncle Alphonse, but no matter. The money is indeed yours. You squeal with delight when you learn that you will be receiving one trillion dollars, but there are two catches. The terms of Uncle Alphonse’s will stipulate that at midnight tonight you will begin receiving one dollar per second, but you will not have access to any of the money until the entire trillion dollars has been transferred to you.

Care to guess when that will be? Well, you don’t have to guess because I have done the heavy lifting and figured it out for you. You may be surprised.

First, though, a word of explanation for friends in other countries: In the calculations below, I will be using American understanding of the values billion and trillion, that is, 1,000,000,000 (1e9) and 1,000,000,000,000 (1e12), respectively, and not some other definition of what those terms may mean in other parts of the world. I know. I am an ugly American.

Let's see how long it will take for you to become a trillionaire. Bear with me while I calculate.

By 12:17 AM you will have amassed $1,000 USD. By 2:47 AM you will have amassed $10,000 USD. By 3:47 AM on Day 2 your fortune will have reached $100,000 USD. And in the early afternoon on the eleventh day, you will have become a millionaire.

So far, so good. The entire inheritance should be yours in practically no time and you can begin spending it, right?


You will probably be surprised to learn just how far it is between a million and a billion, and how far it is between a billion and a trillion.

At the rate of $86,400 per day (there are that many seconds in a day) and a million dollars every eleven and a half days, you will become a billionaire in -- wait for it -- 31 years, 8 months. I am not even kidding. But the end is not yet. To gain access, finally, to the entire trillion dollars your Great-uncle Alphonse so generously left to you, you will have to wait a mere 31,710 years.

Editor's note. I fudged a little. To make the calculations easier, I used 365 days in a year. But we all know that thanks to Julian Assange Fellowes Lennon calendars, we add a Leap Day every four years, except every 100 years, when we don't, except every 400 years, when we do, because our earth's orbit around the sun takes 365-1/4 days, not 365. So let's adjust our answer a little. In 100 years time we will have added 24 extra days, which means that in 1000 years we will have added 240 days, which means that in 4000 years we will have added 960 days, plus ten more for those ten years in there divisible by 400. That's 970 days added every 4000 years and we're talking about 31,710 years before you can get your hands on all that money. That's nearly 32,000 years, and 32,000 divided by 4,000 is 8, so multiply those 970 extra days by 8 (I tire of all the exactitude) and assuming you are still alive 31,710 years from now, you'll still have to wait 7,760 more days or another 21 years (approximately) until you can get your hands on all that cash. --RWP

The moral of this post is simply this: Don't count your chickens before they're hatched, because it is a long way to Tipperary.

Yours from mixed-metaphor land,


Thursday, September 28, 2017

To commemorate this auspicious occasion,

...the tenth anniversary of the one and only rhymeswithplague blog, I wanted to show you the last rose of summer. which surely would remind many of you young whipper-snappers of moi.

However, I cannot show you the last rose of summer because (a) I do not have any roses and (b) my neighbors who do have roses of the popular "knockout" variety have many, many roses currently and I have no clue at this point which of them will turn out to be the last one of the year.

Therefore, I will show you what I do have, which are our encore azaleas (so named because they bloom both spring and fall) and our beautiful sasanqua camellia which blooms every year in September and October. We have had this particular bush for 13 years now. I have no idea how old it was when Phoebe E., our landscaper, planted it near our front door, but like this blog, it endures. Camellias seem to be both hardy and fragile (I think of Greta Garbo in her most famous role) but the individual blooms do not last long. The petals fall to the ground daily and are supplanted by more of their kind. This seems to me to be symbolic of blogs and bloggers in general, and I for one am happy to have continued as long as I have.

I may be gone in a moment's notice or stay around for quite a spell -- no one knows for sure -- but while I remain I intend to bloom my guts out for your reading enjoyment.

The jury is still out on whether this blog is written by a budding genius or a blooming idiot.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The world is not ending today after all, but the world as we know it is ending

So says a man named David Meade who is about as kooky as they come. Maybe kooky is too harsh a word. Loony. That's much better.

He has lots and lots of details about the planet Jupiter and the constellation Virgo and a heretofore unnoticed planet called either Planet X or Nibiru (take your pick) that has supposedly entered the solar system and will crash into the earth shortly. You can read all about this stuff somewhere else if you care to, because I will not dignify the ruse scam nonsense matter further.

Religious nuts (of which I am not one) do this all the time. The movement that became the Seventh-Day Adventist Church said Christ would return in 1844, and when He didn't they modified their doctrine a bit. The movement that became the Jehovah's Witnesses said Christ would return in 1914, and when He didn't they modified their doctrine a bit. There was a big expectation among certain people that the world would end in 1987, but they had to modify their doctrine a bit. At one point in the 1970s, some people in South Florida began moving to Maggie Valley, North Carolina to avoid the wrath to come. How that would have helped I do not know. Does anyone remember Hal Lindsay? Harold Camping?

Somehow the return of Christ and the end of the world are intertwined, or they're not, depending on where you wish to place your money.

It's all about the money.

I just checked Amazon and all sorts of apocalyptic titles are waiting for you to snap them up at very reasonable prices ($3.99, $6.99, $10.91, $11.11).

Some apocalyptic titles have to do with nuclear catastrophe instead of the return of Christ, such as Alas, Babylon which I read about forty years ago, and The Postman, which was made into a movie starring Kevin Costner, and we mustn't leave out The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Nuclear catastrophe seems much more likely in the overall scheme of things than the Planet Nibiru crashing into earth, don't you think?

This has been another semi-fascinating post to make you aware of what's going on around you that you aren't even aware of.

This post could probably benefit from a beginning, a middle, and an ending, but it is what it is.

For those of you who remember him, Putz is beginning to seem more lucid all the time.

Editor's note. An update for readers of yesterday's post. On 13 February 2017, Kim Jong-nam was assassinated. He died after being attacked by two women with VX nerve agent at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia while traveling from Macau under a pseudonym. The death is under investigation but it is speculated that it was carried out by the North Korean government. --RWP

Friday, September 22, 2017

Today may be the equinox, but I'm definitely unbalanced

As we say in the New World, in life as in the dictionary, perspicacity precedes perspicuity.

I'm pulling your leg. We don't really say that. I do, but we don't.

In 1990, the 15 most common surnames in the United States were Smith, Johnson, Williams, Jones, Brown, Davis, Miller, Wilson, Moore, Taylor, Anderson, Thomas, Jackson, White, and Harris. By 2010, according to the Census people, the 15 most common surnames in the United States were Smith, Johnson, Williams, Brown, Jones, Garcia, Miller, Davis, Rodriguez, Martinez, Hernandez, Lopez, Gonzalez, Wilson, and Anderson. The times, they are a-changin'. Do you detect a trend? Yes, yes indeedy.

In England, the name given most often to baby boys in 2017 is Muhammed. Apparently there is a trend going on there as well.

There once lived in North Korea a man named Kim Il-sung. Kim Il-sung had a son named Kim Jong-il, and Kim Jong-il also had a son. American late-night television comedian David Letterman used to say that Kim Jong-il's son was Menta Lee-il, but even though he may have been correct, Kim Jong-il's son was actually named Kim Jong-un. He has been in the news a lot lately. Kim Jong-il had other sons as well, Kim Jong-nam and Kim Jong-chul, about whom we never hear anything at all. Apparently they are keeping a low profile.*

*One fervently hopes our own Dear Leader in Washington D.C. will do the same.

This post is not supposed to make any sense.

So far I am succeeding.

Happy equinox to you all.

Also, a very happy Rosh Hashanah.

Monday, September 11, 2017

All Irma, all the time

I'm not saying it wasn't bad in Florida, because it was, but it seems to me that just as the History Channel seemed for a while a few years ago to be the "All Hitler, all the time" channel, the news channels for the last couple of days have been "All Irma, all the time." That enhanced satellite image up there of where Irma was at 8:06 AM EDT (12:06 PM GMT) today looks really, really bad, but at this moment north Georgia is receiving only a very light rain, the long, slow kind that the grass loves.

Irma is no longer classified as a Category 4, 3, 2, or even 1 hurricane. She is a tropical storm now. Things may change by this afternoon, and probably will, but that is no reason for everybody in Georgia and Alabama and South Carolina to panic. Well, maybe South Carolina. But the 24/7 coverage the last few days of Irma's slow progress seemed to me to be more of an exercise by government officials in learning how well the populace will respond to instructions from on high.

As usual, this has been one man's opinion.

Other things were happening in the world as well, which one would never have known from watching the news channels. Twenty-four hours a day of relentless coverage of a single story, important as it may be, is not my idea of a news channel. Where was the Mexico earthquake? Where was Kim Jong Un? Where was the run-up to the sixteenth anniversary of 9/11/2001? Where was Prince George's first day of school? Where was the Georgia Tech versus Jacksonville State University football game?

And another thing: Since government in this country is increasingly a top-down effort (rather than a bottom-up effort as God and the United States Constitution intended), the Federal Government apparently sent a man to oversee fleets of ambulances to (where else?) the capital city of Florida, Tallahassee, to help evacuate the elderly and residents of hospitals and assisted-living centers in the Miami area. The announcement was accompanied by self-congratulatory pats on their own backs and speeches from government officials all around. Friends, Tallahassee is 480 miles from Miami. This is akin to having an emergency weather event in Sheffield, Yorkshire, and sending fleets of ambulances to the Isle of Lewis.

Rant over. I think. Everyone is glad, of course, that the damage done by hurricane Irma turned out to be much lower than anticipated.

In our family, however, the most important event of the weekend was that our Alabama grandson in the JSU band received a visit from his Georgia aunt and uncle:

You probably can't spot him on the field, but you can definitely enjoy the sound of the band (4:32).

Unfortunately for JSU fans, the final score of the game was Georgia Tech 37, Jacksonville State 10.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Time may pass, but some things do not change

Here's a song from 1917:

There are smiles that make us happy
There are smiles that make us blue
There are smiles that steal away the tear drops
As the sunbeams steal away the dew

There are smiles that have a tender meaning
That the eyes of love alone may see
And the smiles that fill my heart with sunshine
Are the smiles that you give to me

(from "Smiles" (1917), lyrics by J. Will Callahan, music by Lee S. Roberts)

Here is a 2017 demonstration of the above by some people I know:

From top to bottom, these photographs were made at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina; at Indian Rocks Beach, Florida; and at Orange Beach, Alabama.

Sumer (with apologies to Robert Burns) is no longer icumen in; in fact, it is a-goin' out. Nevertheless, even though Mrs. RWP and I have stayed close to home, we are also smiling.