Cynical Synapse

Sun, 11 Mar 2018

What Is Common Sense Gun Control?

An internet search does not return any specific answer to what “common sense gun control” is. Sure, many people have opinions on what restrictions they would like to see put on guns, but there is no consensus on what constitutes common sense, let alone common sense gun control.

It seems the most frequent use of the term is to shut down discussion. After all, who wouldn’t be in favor of measures to curb mass shootings? Therefore, if you don’t support common sense gun control, you must not support saving lives, especially kids’ lives. Adding “common sense” to gun control, gun reform, and gun safety measures seems to be just a less offensive way of vilifying gun owners.

Since the Parkland, FL, massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the trend has been to label the National Rifle Association (NRA) a terrorist organization or child murderers. How can reasonable discourse, discussion, and concurrence take place in such a toxic environment? We’ve become a very polarized society in which the mindset is you’re either for us or your against us.

The failures of Parkland had little to do with guns, but a lot to do with personal responsibility. The Parkland killer should not have been able to buy a gun, but he was not held accountable for his behavior in school. Yet, the conversation is largely focused on AR-15s (AR is short for ArmaLite, the company that introduced the gun, not assault rifle, as some believe) in particular, and assault rifles, assault weapons, or assault-style guns to some degree. These terms, too, are intended to inflame and place the user on the moral high ground. After all, no decent person could reasonably espouse the killing of others, especially not unjustified like these “weapons of war”. Never mind the AR-15 was developed in 1956 but did not become a military rifle—the M-16—until 1964.

We all want to see an end to mass murders, regardless of the means of perpetrating them. The conversation needs to be open and honest, with all sides willing to listen to the other. While words have meaning, and terms and terminology are important when it comes to writing laws, mocking gun control advocates with “gunsplaining” is an attempt to one-up the other side in most instances. While I’m at it, let me also call for an end to blaming opponents of virtue signaling. The only purpose of this term is an effort to delegitimize the other party by implying they don’t actually believe in their position. Talk about shutting down dialogue.

Since common sense isn’t very common, let’s stop being so adversarial when it comes to common concerns. Gun control advocates need to stop being so inflammatory and high and mighty. And believers in gun rights need to stop being so dismissive and pedantic. Then maybe we can develop practical solutions to keep our children and society safe.

Previously on mass shootings:

Wed, 07 Mar 2018

Effective Dialogue Requires Some Mutual Respect

Frankly, the near complete lack of willingness by either major political party to even listen to the other is a sad state of affairs in our country. It is symptomatic of the polarization of our society. We need good ideas, regardless of where they come from, in order to develop suitable solutions to the many problems facing the nation today. That requires some open-mindedness and a willingness to listen. That only comes with a “certain degree of mutual respect,” as Virginia state delegate Nick Freitas (R-Culpepper) said in session at the state house on March 2nd.

HT: The Daily Wire

It’s a short, seven-minute speech with some great points. The Daily Signal summarized seven key points.

  1. Find out if gun-free zones work
  2. Understand the Second Amendment
  3. Make self-defense possible
  4. Consider arming teachers
  5. Stop calling opponents Nazis and segregationists
  6. Continue the dialogue with mutual respect
  7. Admit government failed in Parkland shooting

Successful solutions need reasoned approaches, based on facts and evidence. Emotion, rhetoric, and name-calling don’t advance any cause and certainly don’t yield positive results one could be proud of.

Tue, 18 Oct 2011

Smoke and Mirrors Bus Tour: Tax Cuts That Aren’t

Filed under: Congress, Deceit, Economy, Employment, Government, Language, Politics, President, Stimulus, Taxes, Unemployment — cynicalsynapse @ 8:24 pm

Pres. Obama and his stealth bus

Pres. Obama has been traveling around North Carolina and Virginia in his Stealth Bus, the all-black $1.1 million Canadian-American customized luxery coach, the Death Star of the roads. Republicans claim the trip is a taxpayer-funded campaign tour, a charge the White House denies. Let’s face it, anything a politician—of any party or persuasion—does or says in public has a campaign element to it. So, all you Republicans who felt Pres. Bush got chastised by the media for everything he did, get over it, stop pointing at Obama, sit down, and stop saying “but, but, but…”

Features in the American Jobs Act, uncannily similar to 2009’s $720 billion Stimulus, seems like a half-hearted attempt, at only $448 billion. More troubling is the fact it’s not really a new idea and, if Big Stimulus didn’t work, why would anyone think Baby Stimulus will? Maybe that’s why Senate Democrats didn’t take up Obama’s bill, but saw their own version defeated last week. Even so, it gives the President political mileage: “100 percent of Republicans in the Senate voted against it [the Jobs bill]. That doesn’t make any sense, does it?”

Pres. Obama in Jamestown NC

One of the points in Obama’s jobs plan is payroll tax cuts, intended to put more money into workers’ pockets and encourage employers to hire at reduced costs. What the President doesn’t tout is he wants to extend the current worker tax cut, due to expire at the end of the year, and increase it from 2% to 3.1%. That’s just half of the normal 6.2%. He’s already blaming Republicans if this doesn’t happen and he can just see jobs withering away from less money in your pocket.

Fact Check: First, the current extra pocket money is not making it into the economy as most people pay down debt or save it. Something else no one is talking about is the payroll tax holiday reduces contributions to the Social Security Trust Fund. Has anyone forgotten the dire predictions for the immenent collapse of Social Security?

Wizard of Oz

Smoke and mirrors: here are a few coins for your pocket today, but they won’t be there when you retire. In this case, paying it forward doesn’t make any sense to me. In his speech in Jamestown NC today, Mr. Obama obfuscated the matter (emphasis added):

So don’t be bamboozled. (Laughter.) Don’t fall for this notion that somehow the jobs act is proposing to raise your taxes. It’s just not true. Under this—here’s what will happen. If we don’t pass the American Jobs Act, if we do not pass the provision in there that extends the payroll tax cut that we passed in December, most people here, your taxes will go up by $1,000. So voting no against the jobs bill is voting in favor of middle-class families’ income taxes going up. And that’s a fact. Don’t take my word for it—all the reporters here, they can check on the facts on this thing. That’s the truth.

Are any reporters fact-checking the only payroll taxes the Federal government collects are Social Security (FICA) and Medicare?

Previously on Obama’s jobs bill:

Sat, 01 Jan 2011

Word Czars Take Aim at Social Media

Filed under: Humor, Language, Life, Media, People, Society — cynicalsynapse @ 8:59 am


Michigan’s Lake Superior State University releases a list of banished words each year. The list started during a New Year’s Eve party in 1975. Since then it has been an annual effort to banish words and phrases from the Queen’s English for misuse, overuse, and general uselessness.

This year, the list seems focused on how we communicate and use social networks.

In a busy U.S. election year, “the American People” told LSSU they were tired of not only “refudiate,” but also “mama grizzlies” who wanted their opponents to “man up.”

mama grizzly

The List of banished Words is developed from reader submissions. Here are the 2011 banished words and phrases.

  • Viral—something that has spread like wildfire on the Internet
  • Epic—”Standards for using ‘epic’ are so low, even ‘awesome’ is embarrassed.” Mike of Kettering, OH
  • Fail—pretty much any mistake someone could make, whether significant or not
  • Wow factor—a phrase used to highlight something that seems significantly appealing
  • A-ha moment—a point at which something becomes clear
  • Back story—and what is wrong with “history” instead of “back story”?
  • BFF—instead of BFF (Best Friends Forever), there’s BFFA (Best Friends For Awhile), which makes more sense
  • Man Up—another case of “verbing” a noun; a chest-thumping cultural regression fit for frat boys stacking beer glasses
  • Refudiate—a Palinism that doesn’t even warrant mainstream attention
  • Mama grizzlies—another Palinism
  • The American People—a political reference intended to include all citizens as if we all held the same opinion
  • I’m just saying—a phrase used to diffuse any ill feelings caused by a preceded remark
  • Facebook/Google as verbs—Excuse me? I’ve long held if you can’t find it on Google and can’t learn about it on Wikipedia, it’s not worth knowing about. And if I can’t Facebook with my friends, there’s no point in getting up in the morning.
  • Live life to the fullest—First, things are full or they’re not; there is no fullest. Second, ‘live life’ is redundant

Does this cause anyone else to wonder how we’re going to communicate with each other this year?

Sat, 02 Jan 2010

Word Czars Unfriend 15 Words and Phrases

Filed under: Bailout, Economy, Government, Humor, Language, Life, People, Politics, President, Society — cynicalsynapse @ 2:42 pm

Unfriend T-shirt

Lake Superior State University, located in Sault Ste. Marie in Michigan’s upper penninsula, released its 35th annual list of banished words. The list started during a New Year’s Eve party in 1975. Since then it has been an annual effort to banish words and phrases from the Queen’s English for misuse, overuse, and general uselessness.

Said a word banishment spokesperson, “the list this year is a ‘teachable moment’ conducted free of ‘tweets. In these economic times’, purging our language of ‘toxic assets’ is a ‘stimulus’ effort that’s ‘too big to fail’.”

Just go away

The List of Banished Words is developed from reader submissions. Here are the 2010 banished words and phrases.

  • Shovel-ready—a project fully designed but waiting for work to begin
  • Transparent/transparency—easily understood and fully disclosed
  • Czar—a specialized, high authority appointment
  • Tweet—sending a message on Twitter; also banned are all tweet’s variations, such as tweetaholic, retweet, twitterhea, twitterature, and twittersphere
  • App—as in applets for the iPhone
  • Sexting—sending sexually explicit pictures and text messages by cell phone
  • Friend as a verb—adding someone to your network on social media sites; also banned are the related friending, unfriend, and unfriending
  • Teachable moment—how about just plain lesson?
  • In these economic times…—aren’t all times economic?
  • Stimulus—it’s just plain overused and has no clear boundaries (or effect, that I can see)
  • Toxic assets—a euphemism for bad investments and debt
  • Too big to fail—no one knows if anything’s too big to fail because we’ve never seen it happen
  • Bromance—a close relationship between two straight males
  • Chillaxin’—a combination chilling and relaxing; a multi-year nominee, it finally wore out its welcome
  • Obama-prefix or roots—such as Obamanomics, Obamanation, Obamafication, Obamacare, Obamalicious, and Obamaland; although it got no nominations, the Word Banishment Committee decided Obamanough already

HT: theblogprof

Thu, 24 Sep 2009

Think an Elipses is When the Moon Moves in Front of the Sun?

Filed under: Behavior, Duh, Humor, Language, Life, People, Rants — cynicalsynapse @ 9:22 pm

Who knew that today was National Punctuation Day?

In an era of instant messaging and texting, some may think punctuation almost irrelevant, except as elements of emoticons (which have been around since the 19th century, believe it or not). Others might argue there is a growing misuse—and misunderstanding—of punctuation. A number even consider the demise of proper punctuation as representative of the decline of civilization as we know it.

One of my pet peeves is apostrophe catastrophes. I think this is the leading punctuation faux pas in US English. I often wonder what the item is possessing when I see an apostrophe before an ending S that doesn’t belong there. Consider the sign in the opening picture: the baguette’s what? What does the baguette have? And who cares if Baker has a baguette? If Baker had a lot of baguettes, that might be worth a sign.

The misplaced apostrophe is a bigger deal than just the possessive. What about the difference between your and you’re? This not uncommon mistake has different meanings. Its corollary is even more insidious: there, they’re, their. How many times have you seen the wrong word in that context?

Although it doesn’t usually “bother” me, probably the next most common punctuation error is the unnecessary quotation marks—you know, when a word or phrase is place inside quotes for no good reason. While you have to see improper apostrophes, the unnecessary quotes can also occur in speach. Remember the last time you saw someone make the “quotes” gesture? If they’re making the gesture, it’s probably not proper use of quotation marks.

The sign at right is a nice sentiment, but it leaves me with two questions. Congrat’s what, or does Congrat own the Class of “2009”? Is it really the class of 2009 or are we “just saying” it’s the class of 2009?

So, is punctuation and language a big deal? I don’t know. Why not ask “Punctuation hero” Stefan Gatward?

Copyblogger has six common punctuation errors that bedevil bloggers. Whitesmoke has some other guidance on punctuation.

Think punctuation doesn’t really matter? Consider this. But, is it a big deal in the blogospere? Blogs can be corrected. Maybe the real concern is punctuation and usage based on millennia does matter.

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