The Defense of California Psychics
Friend and client the Sublime Elu wrote some months back that he doubted the claim of a company called California Psychics that they “carefully screen” their psychics. Elu mentioned that he would look for things like predictions of the Dow, that sort of thing. In the process of looking after his affairs (he was last heard from beached in Barbados), I have received the following communication from someone representing themselves as associated with the company:
“I actually work for California Psychics and they are very well screened. The process described here is actually exactly what they do – http://www.californiapsychics.com/articles/about/90/Psychic_Accuracy.aspx
“If you don't believe in psychics that can't be helped but they take great pride in having the most qualified psychics in the country.
“Our evaluation team rigorously tests each applicant for acute psychic ability, dedication to ethical standards and customer care skills. If the applicant receives an excellent assessment, the information is then forwarded to the Psychic Management team for review. A Psychic Manager conducts an interview to establish that the Psychic not only has real gifts, but is professional, customer-oriented, friendly, and communicates clearly. We are very selective in this process and the majority of applicants do not make it past this stage.”
I’ve not spoken with Bro. Elu, but I’m sure he’d like to see a test involving predicting the Dow or something equally objective in advance. It’s only fair.
Two approaches to problems
“There are two types of people . . .” - Don’t you hate trite, presumptuous crap like that? As if the complexity of humanity can be distilled by a mortal into a cutesy little formula. With that in mind, I have encountered a couple of approaches to dealing with problems this week which are, upon reflection, vastly different:
“That can’t be done! Oh, my! When in trouble, when in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout!”
“Damn, that’s a helluva problem! How will we solve that?”
If you say you can solve a problem, you may be wrong. If you say you cannot solve a problem, you cannot be wrong.
Two gun things
I watch nearly zero TV. There is one substantial exception. On Sunday morning, real early, I get to No. 3 to putter, shower, and organize the day and the week. As the coffee is brewing, and while I’m reading the Sunday paper, I turn on the TV in the “den,” mainly for background noise or “company.” Last Sunday, one of those “shocking videos” programs was on. In this one, there was a grainy jewelry store security tape. It showed two “customers” at the counter talking to the jeweler. One of them one pulls a pistol on the proprietor. In a display of considerable guts and deficient brains, the proprietor knocks it aside and goes for his own gun hidden under the counter. (The deficient brains is because you can’t outdraw a drawn gun.) The armed robber and the proprietor exchange fire at point blank range, and they miss each other. That’s not unheard of, even by police. The armed guy and the apparently unarmed accomplice flee. As they are going through the front door, the last shot by owner hits the accomplice in the spine, putting him down and, according to the narrator, putting him in a wheelchair for life.
The first question is a legal one, whether the last shot is legally justified. I don’t have a great deal of trouble with that. It was the robbers who initiated the confrontation and who knowingly introduced deadly force. All either of them had to do was say, hey, screw it, this is a really stupid idea, let’s go apply for jobs and get money that way. The last shot was maybe 10 seconds from when the incident began, so the owner didn’t have time to reflect and balance the benefits and costs of each shot. The owner’s Body Alarm Reaction sharpened some senses and inhibited thoughtful reflection.
The second question is the moral and practical one. Was taking that last shot a wise choice? Was it possible for the owner to have determined that the threat was now diminished to the point that this shot was not necessary? Was it possible for the owner to realize that the total cost of a gunshot wound can be catastrophic? Mind you, I’m not advocating a civil action, a civil demonstration against armed jewelers or an outpouring of grief for robbers who get shot. You play, you pay. However, the cost to the robber in bodily loss is catastrophic; the cost to society (medical bills that will probably be absorbed somehow by public funds; disability benefits, ditto; lost productivity, on the uncertain probability that such an individual would have turned out productive eventually) catastrophic; and, macho posturing notwithstanding, the cost to the owner in lost hours of sleep staring at the ceiling catastrophic, even though he can truthfully say, he’s hurt, I’m not, and boy am I glad about that.
Earlier today, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the District of Columbia ban on possessing handguns in ones’ own home is unconstitutional. This is the first substantive decision ever on the Second Amendment, and weakens (perhaps to nothing) the argument that the “right” is dependent on the militia clause ("A well-regulated militial being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.") (Doing that purely from memory, hope I got it "letter perfect," as Bro. Billy used to say.)
It’s still all fluff. The problem with guns is not just their efficiency and availability. Indeed, that’s not even the biggest problem. The biggest problem is that there are people willing to use them criminally. This is a cultural issue that I will not dispose of in a few paragraphs.
There are also plenty of people who use guns irresponsibly. Out west somewhere, a magistrate who legally carried a handgun in her purse was shopping with a grandchild who somehow got hold of the weapon and shot herself. Whatever the explanation, this is inexcusable.
If you don’t know whether it’s right to say or do something, imagine that your mother is there. If you wouldn’t do it or say it in front of her, you shouldn’t do it or say it, period.
Energy increases proportionally to the square of the speed, so a crash at 80 mph has four times the violent energy of a crash at 40 mph, and that energy has to be dissipated on metal, flesh and bone.
There is no water holier than honest sweat off the brow.
Use “Ladies,” “Gentlemen,” “Sir,” and “Ma’am.” You’re not smart enough to decide if they “deserve” it.
Keep tires properly inflated.