## Friday, December 18, 2020

### Never Tell Me the Odds

The other day I thought it would be fun to look up some numbers. After all, I kind of like math, so why not? I also like thunderstorms and firearms, and there was a severe thunderstorm warning at the time, so I decided I wanted to know how likely any one person is to be killed by a lightning strike versus being shot with an AR-15, the scary-looking boogie-man rifle that Americans either love or hate. As it appears to turn out, you're a LOT more likely to be killed by that thunderstorm brewing than by an AR-15. Here come the facts and math.

Fact: between roughly 2007 and 2017, about 17 people per year were shot and killed with AR-15 type rifles in the USA.

Source: https://fee.org/articles/are-ar-15-rifles-a-public-safety-threat-heres-what-the-data-say/ which quotes a New York Times article for that piece of data.

Fact: in roughly the same time period, lightning strikes killed, on average, about 27 people per year in the USA.

So, on the surface, it looks like you're about twice as likely to be struck by lightning and killed than you are to be shot and killed by an AR-15. But, as someone pointed out to me, don't you also have to take into account the total number of lightning strikes and the total number of AR-15s in the USA?  Well, yes, I suppose you do. So back to Google, I went.

In the interest of full disclosure, I'm doing some rounding with these numbers to make them nice to work with. You can check the source articles if you want to be more precise.

Fact: the annual average number of lightning strikes that reach American soil is around 19 million.

Fact: the NSSF estimates that there are between 5 and 10 million AR-15s (not counting other semi-automatic rifles) owned by American civilians.

So, 27 deaths per year from lightning divided by 19 million strikes per year gives a death rate per strike of 0.00000142. That's about 1.42 deaths per million strikes.

17 deaths per year from being shot with an AR-15 divided by 10 million AR-15s in the USA gives 0.00000170, or about 1.70 deaths per million AR-15s. If you go with the lower estimate of 5 million, you get about twice that or 3.4 deaths per million AR-15s. Still not a lot, but perhaps more deadly than lightning?  No, not really.

If you're going to compare how likely you are to get shot with an AR-15, you need to know how often those 5-10 million AR-15s are actually fired. After all, it's the firing of them that kills, not their mere existence, right?  Come on, you know that's right.

Unfortunately for our little exercise here, that number is nigh unto impossible to know. On one hand, you have guys like me who are raising 4 kids and holding down a full-time job and into other hobbies, and .. well, you get the idea. I maybe make it to the range every couple of years with my AR-15. However, on those trips to the range, I easily expend a few hundred rounds of ammunition. There are guys who burn a few thousand rounds every weekend on the range like it's no big deal. So can we guestimate a good average? Maybe. If we assume that most guys make it to the range once a year and fire 100 rounds out of each of their AR-15s, that seems reasonable. Maybe on the low end. Now, if you multiply that by the number of AR-15s, you get a low estimate of 500 million rounds fired per year, up to 1 billion (with a B) if there are 10 million AR-15s in America.  Now, I understand that this is only guesswork at this point, but I hope you're still with me in accepting that it's a fairly reasonable guess.

So, let's look again at how deadly gunfire from AR-15s is versus lightning:

17 deaths per year divided by 500 million rounds fired gives a shockingly low number of 0.000000034 deaths per round fired. That's orders of magnitude lower than the number of deaths per lightning strike. Look at the numbers on top of each other to see what I mean:

0.000001420 lightning deaths per strike
0.000000034 AR-15 deaths per round fired

So let's figure this out in percentages, shall we? We can forget about the decimal points for this and just do 100 - (34 / (1420+34)) to get a rough percentage of how much more likely you are to be killed by lightning than by someone shooting you with an AR-15. That number comes out to 99.97 percent, meaning you are 99.97% more likely to be killed by lightning than by an AR-15.

So maybe the time you spend worrying about people having AR-15s would be better spent worrying about the weather. Just sayin' ...

### REBLOG: An Open Letter from an American Coward

The following is copied verbatim from https://sarah-chamberlain-42954.medium.com/open-letter-from-an-american-coward-c60530a7a8e9

--

Please save, screenshot, etc., then boost.
I don’t usually ask for my content to be shared. What I am about to say though is perhaps the most important thing I will ever say in public, and in the present landscape of the internet, there is a very high probability that it is being silenced or erased even now as you read it. So, I am asking you to please, save an offline and/or archived copy of this letter RIGHT NOW.

If, once you’ve read this letter, you feel that it has any value or interest whatsoever, please, as a personal favor, send it on through whichever channels, to whichever people you feel safe doing so.

If you think what I say is absurd, please share my letter with your friends so you can all laugh at me.

If you think that what I say is evil, please share it with your friends so you can all rage at me.

If you think I deserve to be punished for what I say, please send my letter on to the “authorities” or to any person you think might hurt me for writing it. At least then, those people will have a chance to read it.

I am
an American, a New Hampshirewoman, a lover of liberty, and a happily married mother of four beautiful children. I have a wonderful life, a bright future, and could not ask for any greater blessing than those I have already received.

My enemies are
in a word, communists. Modern communists do not usually call themselves such. They do not talk about workers rising up and seizing the Means of Production.

Instead, modern communists adopt a rhetorical stance where they assume that all people and all property are ALREADY COLLECTIVIZED, then calmly discuss what WE should do:
- What WE should ALLOW people to own.
- What WE should ALLOW people to do.
- What WE should ALLOW people to say.
- How WE should ALLOW people to use their property.
- How WE should ALLOW people to conduct their businesses,
- … and WHO should be ALLOWED,
- … and WHERE.
- How WE should ALLOW people to raise their children.
- Who should be GIVEN which roles within society.
- etc.

The issue under discussion is always something sympathetic, something most decent people would like to see fixed: Intergenerational poverty, police brutality, environmental degradation, bigotry, violence.

But the solutions modern communists put forward are rarely passive, and they are never liberating. If a problem can be solved by individual action, voluntary charity, by the free market, or by the passage of time, that is never seen as good enough. In fact, nothing that fails to increase the power and control of governments or certain institutions (or to grow the people’s dependence on them) is ever regarded as a solution at all.

The people who do the work of modern communism, debating and voting on these “issues of the day” are mostly not aware of what they are doing. A majority of them are decent people who want real problems addressed. But their thinking is confined to a multiple choice question presented by prestige media and schools where only oppressive proposals are listed as options.

Even those higher up the food chain, the ones who create the policy proposals or set the bounds of debate around them are not usually conscious of the way they are manipulating the public. They are hobbled by a theory of history (care of the school system) where the past is merely a series of dragons slain by government policy, where everything is “systemic”, and where the free choices and conscientious actions of individuals have no meaningful effect.

This is how the enemy operates.
In order for modern communists to have the latitude to execute their plans, they need every citizen to be as weak and dependent as possible. They especially need the middle tiers of management, professions, and bureaucracy to be filled with minimally competent placeholders who owe their position to political and institutional favor. These sorts of people, since they are only able to achieve their present position through the system, are more pliable to coercion and less likely to see freedom in any aspect of life as promising or beneficial.

As a consequence, modern communists wage eternal war against every wholesome and sustainable aspect of life, society, and culture which gives people or communities strength and independence. They see it as desirable to destroy the natural optimum which people discover through freedom and competition and replace it with fragile, orchid-like solutions which could not thrive without government and/or institutional intervention:
- Those with demonstrable skills must be replaced by those with credentials.
- The self-employed must be reduced to the status of employees.
- Property must become regulated or burdened with tax and debt, and wherever possible, wealth must be rendered intangible as abstracted financial fictions constructed of laws.
- People must come to rely on government programs for security where they previously relied on themselves and each other.
- The traditional family and organic communities it forms, such as churches, must be invaded, defanged, and delegitimized to leave people at the mercy of authorities.

To a modern communist, “freedom” means the opportunity for individuals to choose some fundamentally maladaptive way of life and be protected from consequences, encouraged and subsidized by power.

The weaker you are, the more useful you are to those in power. Those who choose to be weak and dependent where they could be healthy and independent are collaborators.

This is what I see happening.
The American public has come to accept all the components of totalitarian states.
- We have come to accept a militarized police.
- We have come to accept ideological indoctrination in schools.
- We have come to accept mass surveillance.
- We have come to accept speech codes.
- We have come to accept the rewriting of history to serve the interests of the ruling party.
- We have come to accept the tarring of political dissidents as “terrorists”, “extremists”, and “White Supremacists.”
- We have come to accept the State telling us when and where we can meet.
- We have come to accept the State shutting down our places of worship.
- We have come to accept the idea that parents should have no special authority over their children.
- We have come to accept the manipulation of thought through the manipulation of language.
- We have come to accept the radical reordering of society by government in the name of crisis.

In the 2016 election, the full-throated manipulation by the mainstream press, academia, and the political establishment was so intense, and so obvious, that many people (myself included) who did not consider themselves “conservative” voted for Donald Trump just to poke a finger in the eye of Leviathan. So many people did so that his margin of victory exceeded the margin of cheat, and he was actually able to become president.

In the intervening years, the modern communists of both parties (though more so the Democrats) and those same media and academia mandarins have only doubled down on their commitment to subjugating the public and clamping down on our personal freedom and political prerogatives. Somehow, in losing electorally, we are to believe that their mandate for runaway collectivism and authoritarianism was strengthened.

Now, in the 2020 election, the fraud and manipulation became so glaringly obvious that, at the time of writing, at least 47% of all Americans, regardless of party loyalty, understand that the election was stolen and Joe Biden is illegitimate. Somehow though, it is still a long shot that Donald Trump, the person who has done more to expose the mendacity and incompetence of the ruling party and institutions than anyone else, will be seated as President.

Every one of those Americans who understands this must realize that this is it. This is the last moment for the American Republic, the last time we will even have a glimmer of a chance of an honest election result, and the last time any opposition to modern communism will be afforded space in the public square. And yet, neither I nor most of you are going to do anything about this situation that might risk our present status or comfort.

This is why I won’t yet act.
Unfortunately for me, the crisis has come either too late or too early. Our family has four young children, a single income, and a base of assets which could be easily lost but probably never replaced. We are maximally vulnerable to the sorts of attacks which collectivists bring against those who fight back.

Even so, if the fight were on, if the majority of Americans who this past election shows are opposed to creeping collectivism were on the march, I would risk it all to join them. No comfort, no wealth, not even life itself is as important as preserving the possibility of human freedom. The hive-society prison which is being built around us must be demolished at any cost.

But when I look around me, I see many people who are paralyzed as I am. We know that the fight for our republic is unavoidable, and that the time is now, but do not see a nucleus of resistance to which we can pledge our lives, fortunes, and sacred honors without it being tantamount to suicide. We are watching and waiting for someone else to be that nucleus.

Most people who have not committed to the cause of freedom are not conscious supporters of modern communism. Some hold out the futile hope that things will all go back to normal, others have convinced themselves that what is happening is inevitable and cannot be opposed. Both are dead wrong. As open struggle against collectivism, communism, authoritarianism, and globalism rises, both of these positions will weaken, and support for freedom will grow.

If you have the courage to act where I do not,
here is what I WILL do:
- If you speak out against them, I will listen.
- If you act against them, I will not stand in your way.
- If they portray you as uncool, cringey, old-fashioned, unintelligent, or low-class, I will not laugh at you or think less of you.
- If they call you a racist, sexist, xenophobe, homophobe, Nazi, granny killer, etc., I will not believe them, nor will I care.
- If they call you a terrorist or an extremist, I will not assume that you are in the wrong.
- When they ask me questions, I will lie, forget, or evade as I am able.
- When they tell me their version of history, I will smile and nod and know they are liars.
- If they dispossess you, I will share what I can.
- If they martyr you, my children will learn your name as that of a hero.
- If you have the courage to be shameless in opposing them, you will be honored in my house.

This is what I will remember.
1.
The universities and the class of “experts” and “professionals” to whom they grant legitimacy have no constitutional role in the American Republic. No amount of schooling grants one authority over others, and no consensus among the educated should have the force of law.

2. The guarantee in the Constitution of “Freedom of the Press” is not a grant of authority to the legacy media or to professional journalists. It is, in fact, a right belonging to the people: WE have the right to publish and disseminate views and information the same as those who work for newspapers or television networks.

3. The Intelligence and Defense establishments of the US exist to secure the rights and liberties of the American people. The US has constructed a vast apparatus to deploy force, subvert or overthrow governments, and disseminate propaganda, but these activities are only legitimate when they are directed OUTWARD. When the geopolitical capabilities of the US government do not act to empower the American people and sustain our Constitution, they are just as criminal as the same actions taken by private citizens.

4. Law enforcement and defense against violence is the responsibility of each and every person. Even though we have become accustomed to having these services provided by professionals, they remain our right and our personal responsibility.

5. Education of the young is the responsibility of parents and natural communities. Even though we have become accustomed to having this service provided by professionals, it remains our right and our personal responsibility.

6. Provision of necessities such as food and shelter is the responsibility of each and every person. Even though we have become accustomed to these goods being delivered by a vast and interconnected economic machinery over which we have little control, it remains our right and our duty to provide for ourselves and those we care about.

7. Though peace, prosperity, happiness, and a long life are all wonderful conditions to experience, they are not what makes a human life worthwhile. Humans have dignity and value insofar as they are free agents struggling and striving to obtain these ends. “Treating someone as a human being” does not mean coddling them and providing for them like you would a child or a pet. It means getting out of their way and leaving them the freedom and latitude to provide for themselves.

8. Whoever relinquishes their freedom to obtain comfort or security is not acting as a human, but as an animal. Because our fates are all intertwined, such a person is betraying all of us, and does not deserve our concern or regard.

— Sarah Chamberlain