When someone kills a bunch of people or does something else horrible that normal people can’t understand, the natural reaction from many of us is to say “he was just crazy”.
But I don’t buy this. First of all, this attitude seems like a mental trick to avoid thinking about the rationality of what the person did, to avoid sympathy for the person and to distance yourself from them. Sure, many people are quote-unquote “crazy”, but we’re all crazy in some little way, and we all still have thoughts going through our brain and rationales for what we do, regardless of how unpopular or incorrect they may be.
I feel the concept of “they’re just crazy” instills unnecessary fear in people because it implies that there are people out there who have no rationale and simply do things blindly, like robots, and can’t be reasoned with. The concept is sort of the agnostic/atheist equivalent of “The devil made him do it.” This is counterproductive to actually dealing and communicating with these types of people. I believe this emotional distance, fear and stereotyping ultimately serves to make these “crazy” people even more crazy.
So I’ve been thinking about the guy I watched get shot in front of my apartment a few weeks ago, and more specifically, about the guy doing the shooting. I’ve been running over what my buddy said about how most people who shoot each other in those situations are being driven by fear… it’s not about hatred or a love of death and killing or even of wanting to look tough (though I believe wanting to look tough is a symptom of fear and certainly played a part in the shooting I witnessed). My friend’s theory was that this guy purposefully missed the target because he was afraid of killing someone. So my thought is that the only logical reason to shoot at someone if you’re also terrified of killing that person, is if you’re scared of something else.
I think in this case, it was fear of being weak and vulnerable. The shooter thought that if he didn’t pull out that gun and “show off his big dick” as my buddy put it, he would be seen as an easy target for violence and he would be more likely to be killed or injured later on. In his mind, at least in the heat of that particular moment, he felt it was self defense. Sure, perhaps there was nothing immediately threatening him, but he felt threatened by that sense of weakness and the idea that someone could hurt him later if he did not make a preemptive strike.
When I look at it that way, this shooter doesn’t appear any worse than any police or military officers. They work under the exact same concepts. Police regularly pull guns on people without having any immediate threat.
I myself have had police point guns in my face at point-blank range. Once when I was an innocent bystander and once when I was arrested for marijuana when they knew I did not own any weapons. If I had made one false move in those two moments, I would not be here today, and after being through the experience twice, I know it’s tremendously easy to make a wrong move in that moment, because your instincts are telling you to go all John McLean on them and grab the gun and fight back, but your logic is telling you no, simply submit, and you have only a fraction of a second to get your decision making structure worked out or else your brains are going to be splattered across the sidewalk. When the police kill someone who makes a false move like that, nobody cares; they just assume it was their own fault for moving improperly.
I think it’s quite likely that the shooter has been through similar situations… or at the very least, he’s watched it on Cops. We’ve all been told that this kind of thing is necessary for a safe society.
So how can we really blame him for doing the exact same thing? He simply learned from the very people we uphold as heroes and from the general concept our society has that preemptive strikes are morally acceptable. What would charging him with attempted murder or reckless endangerment even do? It wouldn’t do anything to quell the fear that the next gangster might have in that situation, and in five or ten years when he’s back on the streets, how will it have addressed the deeper psychological problems that caused him to fire that gun? In the end, all the law enforcement and prison system will teach him is that he needs to show off an even bigger dick.
I just installed my first self-written WordPress plugin, called Kalin’s PDF Creation Station, which adds a page into my admin panel where I can select any combination of pages and posts, then export them to a PDF file which is saved in the plugin directory. This has been something I’ve wanted to do for years, to be able to parse through my writings and dynamically create PDF files so that I can distribute my collections as single books, and I’ve never been able to find a way to do it until now. There’s a few other PDF creation plugins out there for WordPress, but they’re all quite limited. I based this plugin off of Marcos Rezende’s Blog as PDF and basically took his code (one of the beauties of open source is the ability to “steal” and improve upon other people’s work) and added a bunch of cool features like the ability to add pages as well as posts, to select individual pages and posts, to insert a custom title page, page titles, page headers, font size and to automatically save it to the server instead of forcing a download. I also ajaxified it so that the page never needs to reload throughout creating and deleting PDFs and altering input fields.
I have not released this plugin to the WordPress community yet because I want to test it a little more, tweak my default data, and write a decent plugin page and instructions. Hopefully I’ll be able to actually have people downloading and using it in the next couple weeks.
In the future, I hope to add a feature where PDF files will be automatically updated when you update a post, and if I can think of a good user interface, when you add new posts or pages. Then I want to replace the per-page PDF generator plugin I’m currently using with something that can be configured for each individual page and post so I don’t have a link to a PDF for a page that’s only a few paragraphs long. Then I want to create a stripped down version of the Kalin’s PDF Creation Station and pop it in a widget so that blog readers can select only the pages and posts and get a personalized PDF file. But first I need to finish the ‘change page order’ feature I’m currently working on.
So I smoked some salvia divinorum the other day and thought I’d write a salvia trip story about the salvia effects I experienced since the most popular page on my site for search engines seems to be my post about my old robo tripping days. I was out at the bar and had a few gin and tonics then went back to a friend’s house. Just after sitting down, someone offered me a hit of salvia divinorum and passed me a pipe. I hadn’t smoked salvia in five, six, maybe seven years, but remember it as being the most intense high I’d ever experienced. That time I remember being somewhat aware of the fact that I was in a room, except all the objects within the room, like the people, furniture and walls were all moving independently of each other and swirling as though in the Wizard of Oz tornado, but I was still aware that they were objects and I was still in a place.
This time, I simply grabbed the pipe without thinking about it and took a single, reasonably sized hit and held it in for a few seconds as you’re supposed to do with salvia. Then reality simply disintegrated, and suddenly I felt like I was back at the bar, but I knew I wasn’t really there, and at the same time I was in the hallway outside the apartment and at the same time I was inside the apartment as well as in process of moving inside the apartment, but I didn’t really know what any of those places were. I kept thinking there was a place I was supposed to be, a place that existed at a specific location in physical space as well as time, and I needed to traverse time and space in order to get to this place, but at the same time, I knew I was already there, in this colorful, comfortable apartment, I just needed to really get there. I heard my buddies talking, though I couldn’t make out anything they were saying, but somehow interpreted their words as being descriptions of the locations in time and space that I was traveling through, as though they were providing me a road map to where I needed to be.
Then everything became layers upon layers of reality, and I realized that I was going to be traveling on this journey regardless of how much work I put into it so it was okay for me to just relax and float through the layers, knowing that I would wind up where I needed to be and that my buddies would be there waiting for me. I saw the room again, but saw multiple copies of the room moving repeatedly from the upper left of my vision to the lower right, then repeating. As time passed, the copies of the room moved slower and the number of copies slowly diminished until there was just one and I slowly realized I was a physical being again. Once I remembered I had a body and I was anchored to time and the physical realm, it still took me a minute or two before I could really talk or do anything other than lean my head back and let my tongue go limp.
In the end I wouldn’t describe the experience as particularly pleasurable, though I’m definitely glad I did it. It’s more of an interesting experience rather than a euphoric one. I find it fascinating that the human mind can become that confused and out of touch, as though you’ve literally left your body and you have no idea who or even what you are. It’s like all forms of logic are gone and all you’re left with is vague but basic concepts that you can’t quite grasp, but in the end there’s very little danger (assuming you’re in a safe place where you can’t fall and hurt yourself and have a sober buddy) and you always come back within just a few minutes with no harm done.
So I think this experience tops the one from half a decade ago. Over the years I’ve done mushrooms, acid, ecstacy, DMT, DXM, and some other mystery psychedelics, but none come close to being as powerful as salvia. Thankfully this stuff is totally legal still, possibly because it is so powerful and not really euphoric, so it’s probably not too addictive. Twice a decade, for me, seems like just about enough to remind me that this reality that we all take for granted is just a fragile interpretation of a universe that is far more complex and intense than we can imagine.
Someone sent me this video the other day. I thought it was sort of interesting, so here’s the response I threw together,
I watched that youtube video – it didn’t seem like it said all that much, though I did find interest in the point about how the idea of visualization like in The Secret, ‘visualize success’ type of thing fosters an attitude that allows us to not care about others because we think their problems are because of their own thoughts. I didn’t get the whole Bill Gates thing and the idea that Planned Parenthood is some kind of racist conspiracy. That seemed like quite a stretch to me. I don’t see how responsible reproduction and parenting could do anything but help the black community.
I don’t know about all this secret society thing — I suppose its all possible but I don’t think there’s any reliable way to come to conclusions about them, and ultimately I think if these secret societies exist that are controlling everything, it’s more of a symptom of deeper problems in the human psyche and society. If the people in these secret socieities weren’t there, someone else would just take their place. I think the root of the problem is people’s general desire to control and to be controlled.
So I think I may have over reacted to the so-called “murder” that I witnessed last week. The news stories I’ve read made it sound a lot less serious than what it looked like from my apartment, and sounds like the guy actually survived despite being shot in the face. I remember watching him being shot at least a few times, and seem to remember hearing around 15 gunshots total, then he was just lying there and I watched him as closely as I could for several minutes before the police showed up and he sure wasn’t moving. I never actually saw him getting hit, but he was maybe fifteen feet away and I couldn’t imagine how the shooter could have missed that many times, so I guess I just assumed there was no way he could have survived.
I talked to a friend who told me that gangsters and gun-toting drama queens like this usually don’t shoot to kill in these situations, that they usually aim high or low, and their real intent is, as he put it, “to show off their big dick,” and just scare the crap out of someone, but in reality the shooter is usually the one who’s scared because he’s probably never killed anyone before and especially not with all those witnesses. I guess that kind of psychology never occurred to me. If I pull out a gun and shoot someone, I would intend for them to die. I’d be afraid if I wounded someone they’d just come back for me later. But I’ve only shot a gun a few times in my life, and certainly never at a person, and I’ve never had any real desire to own one, so I guess I have no idea of the psychology of people who actually carry guns and would do something like this.
But there’s still a few things that bother me about this whole thing. First was when I went into the bar the next day for a burger and heard the bartender talking about it. Apparently she had called 911 before shots were ever fired and tried to convince the police to come in and break up the fight, but they had refused, saying it was too dangerous, even though the bartender, bar owner and a number of other innocent witnesses were all right there. Instead, the police waited down the street a block or two away for all the shooting to be done with so they could catch everyone while they were fleeing the scene.
I’ve told people this part of the story and everyone has seemed very shocked by it, but to me it makes perfect sense. The cops aren’t there to prevent crime, they are there to punish crime after it occurs, and naturally they are going to choose to protect themselves before they try to protect innocent victims, which I think would be the same for just about anyone.
But I often wonder if part of it is the fact that police want these types of things to occur, and purposely waited because they wanted a crime to be committed. The more gang violence that goes down, the more secure they are in their jobs and the more people support them. It also makes the gangs more likely to target each other than to start targeting police. Law enforcement really has no logical reason to try to prevent crime from happening, and crime prevention, quite simply, is not anywhere in their job description.
Besides, if cops were really interested in preventing crime they would have become teachers or social workers or YMCA counselors or foster parents. Those are the people that are truly making our streets safer.
I was afraid right after I watched that guy get shot that this would shake up my belief in anarchism and make me second-guess my distaste for police and law enforcement, since these are the kind of events people always cite as being examples of why we need police, but that certainly did not happen.
The other thing that bothers me is the fact that the news articles I read did not match up very closely with what I saw. Apparently the police reported that there were 40 people, all wearing white t-shirts. I remember 10-15 people, only a few of them wearing white t-shirts. They also weren’t clear on how many shots were fired, and one article seemed to imply that only one shot had been fired. I don’t see how these things could be possible. I don’t think I hallucinated all those gunshots, and I don’t see how 40 people could have all gotten away in the two–possibly three–vehicles I saw drive away. I didn’t see anyone fleeing on foot, though I suppose I could have missed a few, but there’s no way I could have overlooked 20-30 people fleeing on foot.
So either I completely mis-remembered the entire thing and essentially hallucinated, or the newspapers are not taking responsibility for the things they print, or the police are flat-out lying to the news reporters or just making stuff up to get them off their backs.
If I hallucinated the whole thing, that means that any witness to any crime could have the same problem and can see things in a way that’s completely separate from reality and not have the slightest idea that they were hallucinations brought on by raging emotions. This is one reason why I believe there is always reasonable doubt in a court conviction.
But I don’t believe I hallucinated. I think the newspapers are just trying to sell their papers so they can help feed our economy and make money for themselves, so they have to print a story before anyone else does, and the police are just tired of dealing with them; perhaps they’re tired of telling the reporters the story and having them mis-interpret it and have just given up, so they just tell them whatever.
Then people read all these articles and use them to form their opinions and world view… or they read stuff like my blog, where I have unwittingly exaggerated even more than the reporters I’m scolding