I started this post over a year ago. 5/29/14. What’s sad is that I had to look up which mass shooting happened around that time. http://shootingtracker.com/wiki/Mass_Shootings_in_2014 shows that there were plenty of shootings around that date. I’ve re-edited this to include my thoughts from the past year.

Let’s talk about guns, racism and mental health.

Once again we’re faced with a mass shooting. One that “nobody could have prevented”, if you believe folks on the right. Well, nobody but a “good (white) guy with a gun”. But they’ll tell you the real issue is mental health. At least that’s the story when it’s a white guy shooting anyone. My “sound bite” response is always that “mental health” is a distraction used by The Right to avoid talking about guns, how many people they kill every year in the US, and how skewed that number is compared to the rest of the first world.

Here’s the thing: it is about mental health, but not in the way The Right would have you believe. I think that our issues here have a lot to do with two mental health issues, and they’re collective to America: Parnoid Narcisim.

Narcisim

Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultraconfidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/narcissistic-personality-disorder/basics/definition/con-20025568

Paranoia

Symptoms of paranoia and paranoid disorders include intense and irrational mistrust or suspicion, which can bring on sense of rage, hatred, and betrayal. Some people suffering from paranoid personality may have a high capacity to annoy or enrage others because of rigid and maladaptive behavior. http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/paranoia-and-paranoid-disorders

The NRA will tell you that “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”. This is both paranoid and narcissistic. The idea is that if only more of us (white folks) were armed with guns, fewer of us would die at the hands of guns. It’s on us to protect us. We’re a nation build on the idea that we’re self-reliant and that we overcame tyranny to achieve freedom. We’re told to ignore the fact that it wasn’t individuals that created America, it was the nation.

“We built this” is a rally call of The Right and Libertarians. We’re told that we’re better off as individuals than as a nation. Libertarians and Republicans alike rally against the collectivism that bought America it’s freedom. It wasn’t guns, it was people (To appropriate an NRA dog-whistle). Yet time and time again we’re told they “they” (non-white people) are out to get “us” (white people).

Yet if you peruse the list of perpetrators of mass killings, it’s usually a white guy, and it’s always with a gun. It’s almost always a legally obtained gun.

I’ve owned guns in the past. I’m not against gun ownership. I enjoy target shooting, and I support managed hunting. I’m not even against the concept of gun ownership for protection. I just think we’re ignoring something huge.

On Mental Health

Mind you, The Right and Libertarians will sue to not accept the Affordable Care Act and it’s funding for things like mental health. They will claim it’s unconstitutional to “force” medical coverage on everyone. They will claim that it will just lead to worse care for you (white people), death panels for your (white) grandparents, and forced vaccinations on your (white) children.

Solving mental health issues in America is too big for a government that must be kept small. But mass shootings are an issue of mental health.

This is another “dog whistle”: by blaming shootings on mental health, but refusing to solve (fund) mental health coverage, The Right and Libertarians feed their own paranoid narcism: There are mentally unstable people out there, and only you can protect your families.

Buy a gun. Buy one for the whole family. It’s the only way to protect yourselves. Only if, of course, you’re white.

On Race

If you’re still reading this and don’t agree with me, thanks. I appreciate your patience as I blow my own “race” dog whistle. I’m aware of this, and I do it with purpose.

Given that this guy was photographed with a jacket embellished with the flags of Apartheid South Africa and Rhodesia, given that this guy said very plainly during his rampage “You’re raping our women… taking over our country and you have to go”, it’s inconceivable that anyone would doubt the race component. As someone on Facebook put it:

If you’re living in racist South Carolina and rocking a Rhodesian flag, you’re officially doing extra credit for racism.

I’ll leave it to you to look up the GOP presidential candidates responses to the Charleston shooting. I had an acquaintance (I shit you not) try to connect this with abortion. Anything but the truth.

In the last year or so we’ve had the killing of Travon Martin, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Freddie Gray (to name a few). I’ve had to endure The Right claim there isn’t a race component to this:

“We’re past racism”

“I don’t see color”

“This is an issue of income disparity, not race”

These are paraphrased quotes from Facebook conversations I’ve had with folks in regards to these shootings and the subsequent #BlackLivesMatter protests. It’s almost impossible to get someone on The Right to admit that racism is alive and well in America.

Tie it off with a bow

We’re told that we must arm ourselves (narcisim) to protect ourselves (paranoia) from “bad guys” (racism).

End of story.

Karen L. Montoya
NM PRC Commissioner - District 1
[email protected]
1120 Paseo De Peralta
P.O. Box 1269
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87504
(505) 827-8015

Hopefully you’re getting a lot of information about the new transportation applications that have started operating in Albuquerque. My understanding is that the PRC has already told Lyft to stop operation and is investigating whether it will ask Uber to do the same. While I appreciate that your commission is tasked with ensuring fair pricing and safe transit, I feel the PRC is misguided (likely at the behest of the entrenched Taxi Industry) in being so quick to shut down such innovative services. Uber, for example, manages to operate in over 110 cities world-wide, bringing jobs and safe transportation to many. Here are some interesting stats on Uber’s impact.

We both know how much of an issue DUI is in New Mexico. When Uber started operation in Seattle, DUI decreased by more than 10%. That’s staggering. The fact is that while alternative transportation exists in taxis and the bus system, people do not choose those options. People choose Uber. Taking this option away from New Mexicans will send a very confusing message about where the PRC’s priorities are when it comes to public safety.

New Mexico regularly ranks towards the bottom of the nation when it comes to jobless rate. Services like Uber and Lyft provide a way for people to work part time, fill in around school or family care, or create their own businesses. Is the PRC ready to take jobs away from these folks?

I’ve been using Uber in San Francisco and Denver for over a year, where I have yet to have an unsatisfactory experience. I tried Lyft when they launched in Albuquerque, and now Uber. I know many friends who now rely on Uber to get around when having a few drinks with friends or just when they don’t want to deal with parking. I hope you’ll see the wisdom in working with both Uber and Lyft so they can continue to operate in Albuquerque and perhaps all of New Mexico.

Thank you for your time,

Damon Toal-Rossi Albuquerque, NM 87108

A whole host of people have been sending me articles about the recent class-action settlement against Vibram over health claims made about their “FiveFinger” shoes. Folks who know me know that I’m a big proponent of them: I’ve been wearing them for over 4 years. I met my wife because of them. I’ll continue wearing them despite this “finding”.

Some of the articles folks have sent me:

See, here’s the deal: why is it surprising (or even a cause of schadenfreude) that a multi-million (billion?) dollar industry combines with American Podiatric Medicine Association (who make their $$$ with expensive “custom” inserts) to push a class-action lawsuit against Vibram? There’s no science and very little evidence that the last 30+ years of running has benefitted from wedge heels, 1/2” of padding and all the other bullshit for which folks have been paying ~$80-$200 a pop. It’s not like running injuries NEVER EXISTED before Nike came in with their foot-splints. But where there’s a dollar to be made, there’s a way. The American ~~sewage~~ “legal system” is bullshit.

There’s a ton of mis-information out there about barefoot and minimialist running. In his book, Born To Run, Christopher McDougall doesn’t run barefoot. Scott Jurek doesn’t run barefoot. The Tarahumara indians don’t either. Only “Barefoot Ted” runs in Vibrams, and he learns how to make the huarachas the Tarahumara use to run massive distances over rough terrain.

Additionally, all of the “health claims” Vibram made about their FiveFingers were buffetted with a stern warning to start easy. I’ve always explained it to people like this: > So let’s say you’ve been wearing a sling on your arm for your whole life. You can use your arm, but only within the confines of the splint. Now let’s say you take your arm out of the splint. Are you going to be able to row a boat for a full day? Climb a mountain? No. You’ve gotta slowly build up strength in your muscles, bones and tendons before you can really start exerting yourself. Switching to minimalist footwear is just the same.

This is why there’s bullshit “research” out there where they take runners, switch them to minimalist footwear, and surprise, surprise they have injuries.

In summary, the whole thing is bullshit. Have I used that word already? The running shoe industry can continue making millions off of people who over-pronate or under-pronate or… whatever it is they get you to buy over and over again. The podiatrists can continue to sell pricy inserts when the running shoes don’t quite “fit your foot right”. Running injuries will still happen, and yet miraculously nobody points their finger at anybody but their own bodies for somehow not being “born to run”. I’ll be over here with this guy.

So I’m trying out a new blogging platform. Here’s the rundown:

  • The good folks at GitHub have provided us geeks GitHub Pages, which is a pretty cool way to host a website.
  • Using Jekyll, I can now write my blog posts in Markdown, which is muy prefarable to WYSIWYG editors in Wordpress.

I’m going to port at least some of my old blog over. I’m guessing I’m the only one who cares about that stuff, but oh well it’s my blog!