COMPUTERS, SOFTWARE, GUNS, AND US: NOT A RANT, JUST A RAMBLE

Yesterday, I tried to download a book from my Audible.com library and got a message telling me I didn’t have adequate permission.

I’ve been an Audible member since 2002 and I’m pretty sure I have more than adequate permissions. I tried what I thought I knew, then gave up and called Audible. Which is not as horrific as, for example, having to call Dell. I think I’d rather have a root canal than have to deal with Dell service people. The folks at Audible are nice. Helpful. Mostly knowledgeable. Pleasant and patient. Which is good because when my computer is playing up, I transform into a very cranky old person. I depend on my computer. I expect it to just do its job, without complaint. Without hesitation and without any special massaging. I don’t burn incense to it as I used to with some of my more persnickety machines through the years.

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We went through every menu and fixed permissions. Edited the registry. Nope, permission still denied. Which was when I realized that the application denying permission was actually Chrome, not Windows or my operating system. Good news? I wouldn’t need to call Dell. Bad news? What are the odds of actually getting a person to talk to at Google?

But my new friend at Audible had a secret weapon. He gave me the tech support direct line for Google! How cool is that? I was dubious, but I finally womaned up and called them.

Two dogs and a computer

Two dogs and a computer

They answered. It was human, not a robot. We got it fixed. Something had corrupted between when I signed off last night — well after midnight — and when I arose in the late hours of the day and signed on. This confirms my belief that our dogs secretly have opposable thumbs. They do stuff on the computers while we sleep. How else can a perfectly good browser go bad while nothing is happening? It’s got to be the dogs. J’accuse!


One of the many conversations Garry and I had yesterday had to do with weapons and shooting people to protect ourselves or others. He said he might not be able to kill anyone unless they threatened me. Then, all bets were off. I said I was afraid, unfamiliar as I am with guns except for the 22 mm target rifle I used to slay paper plates almost 50 years ago. On vacation in Maine. Even then, I didn’t load the rifle or clean it. Someone just handed it to me, loaded and cocked, said “Hold it this way” and I shot the crap out of that paper plate. It never stood a chance against my wrath.

That same long ago day in Maine, as my friends and I were passing the rifle around, shooting those paper plates (which we had tacked to an understanding pine tree) … a pheasant wandered by, and decided to hang around awhile. He wasn’t impressed with our fire power. He just stood there, in front of the tree, looking at us.

pheasant

An argument broke out. Who would shoot the pheasant? What if we shot him, but he didn’t die? Who was going to shoot him again? Who would pull out the feathers and what else did you need to do to make that pheasant into a meal? Eventually, we just shooed him away. Mighty hunters we were not.

Given that little piece of history, I have no reason to believe in my ability to kill anything. For any reason. If I started to think, by the time my brain registered the need for haste, I’d be dead. Unless that other part of me kicked in, that “emergency response unit” that seems to pop up only on an “as needed” basis. At which point all my thought processes stop and I just do whatever I need to do to survive. That could happen, right? But I wouldn’t count on it.

Garry has at least had the benefit of having gone through basic training in the Marine Corps. Once, a long time ago, he could take his weapon apart and put it back together with his eyes closed. Not that we have such a weapon, but at least he has — somewhere in memory — a fundamental familiarity with a weapon.

Lucky that we’ve never been tested, eh?

THE BIG UNDO

DAILY PROMPT — Undo: If you could un-invent something, what would it be? Discuss why, potential repercussions, or a possible alternative.


Undo gunpowder. TNT. And guns. Oh, and nuclear power. All the stuff that makes guns and modern weapons, and modern warfare possible. No landmines, howitzers, or automatic weapons. You can keep your knives, swords, maces, bludgeons, ropes, and other weapons of personal, intimate destruction. I’ll just take away everything that blows up, shoots, explodes, or kills from a distance … or en mass.

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If you want to kill someone, you’ll have to do it face-to-face, up close and personal. No mass destruction. You want to kill someone, stand up and fight. Beat him up. Have a cozy knife fight.

blood evidence

But you can’t kill him from a distance, can’t site him with a sniper rifle from a rooftop. No sniper rifles exist, not even a pistol. Since I have this power to undo what has been done (I’m sure there’s time travel involved here, somewhere), if you try to work around this, I’ll take away your bows-and-arrows too.

So behave yourself. Don’t run with scissors, but it’s okay to stab your neighbor with a pair … because hey, we’re humans. Killing is us.

Why? A question with no answer.

My husband wants to know why a kindergarten teacher in a quiet Connecticut suburb owned two 9-mm hand guns and a semi-automatic rifle. He wants to know why are there no checks for mental stability for gun owners or background checks in most states to make sure that the purchaser is not an outright criminal.

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I want to know how come a relatively small number of gun nuts are able to hold our entire nation hostage. I’m pretty sure the majority of Americans don’t believe that anyone who wants one should be allowed to own an arsenal. Most people have more sense that.

I don’t think people who hunt are the problem, either. I don’t hunt, but I don’t feel I can consume meat while simultaneously objecting to someone else shooting a deer. I am not sufficiently hypocritical for that. In any case, hunters usually respect weapons, were often raised in homes where hunting is a tradition and guns are not considered toys … and they don’t use semi-automatic rifles or assault weapons for deer hunting. Or any other kind of hunting.

So who are these people who have so much more power than their numbers or any commonsense, logic, or reason suggests? Why do they seem to own us? My gut tells me to follow the money because beneath and supporting every evil, somewhere  there’s money involved. Usually a lot of money.

Why do we allow private people to buy these weapons? Why are they not held liable for the damage their weapons do, regardless of who is pulling the trigger?

GUNS-1-popupWhy do we have less oversight of guns than of motorcycles? The odds of a motorcycle killing anyone but its owner are small compared to what a gun — any gun — can do.

Why? Anyone have an answer? Because my husband and I are pretty smart people, well-educated and reasonably sophisticated. He was a reporter for a lifetime and has seen more of these massacres than anyone should ever have to see. I read, research, and spend a lot of  time looking for answers.

But neither one of us has answers this time. We just have questions. There are a lot of questions going around. Maybe it’s time to start formulating a few answers.