I don't mean to offend. It's probably going to happen anyway.

Monday, July 28, 2014


Old NFO put up a post recently about the rate of suicides among my generation. I know this is a little out of style for this blog, but being part of my generation, I think I may be able to contribute some to the discussion. Please read his post first, here.

I think the points he brought up are all valid, but I think there's more to it. All are facets of the same problem, in a way. I don't know that it's so much that my generation hasn't been allowed to fail that is the primary issue than it is that we have nothing worth risking failure for. I've known some people who've attempted suicide and far more who have contemplated, though thankfully none succeeded, and they've all commented something to the effect of "What's the point of living" usually with some particular personal problem or crisis as catalyst.

There's a distinct cultural ennui among a great many of my peers. We live in a time when a great many things are in really rough shape and we are constantly reminded of many of the worst bits. Wars, tragedies, and depravities that in a former age were distant are now blared across the front pages of Google and Facebook. We're all aware of terrible things, and many feel powerless to combat them.

I see it as a sort of burnout. There’s always some new crisis, some new tragedy, and the expectation is that you should feel something. Indeed, most do, for a while. When the issues keep coming and nothing is changing, it gets harder and harder to feel anything. This leads to a mental picture of the world as being pointless, since terrible things happen so often and nothing changes, so how can there be rhyme or reason? In short, the world doesn’t seem worth much.

On a separate note, it seems strange how the interconnected nature of the internet has managed to isolate people so much. While true, people can keep up with other people’s lives, they can only see what others choose to share. Similarly, others know only what they post in their statuses and such. Everyone has these masks of social acceptability and propriety that are rather harder to maintain the same way with people you actually see and spend time with. Everyone has this face, but so often it isn’t representative of their own identity.

Emile Durkheim started the field of sociology with the study of suicides, and he found that this anomie or namelessness seemed to be the defining character to the huge suicide rates in the growing urban centers. People find that they really know no one, and no one knows them, and what does it matter anymore? In the post Vietnam era NFO mentioned, our men came home to find themselves named something far outside their own reality and identity. They went through hard times, far harder than most, and they came back to a society that hated them for it. Drafted into service in a hard war they didn’t choose and reviled for their participation, they were left alone when they most needed the help.

Suicide is a hard thing to look at through history, since it was so often hushed up as shameful. All the same, my sense of the thing has been that in generations past, those who committed suicide were generally not surprising to those around them. Today, I hear so often “I had no idea” “they seemed so happy” or “no one saw this coming.” People have cloistered themselves up in their own heads, putting on the face that they see as necessary for the circumstance, and many are sure that everyone else is doing the same.

Relatedly, people my age are craving the genuine, in a world progressively more seen as fake and hollow. I think one of the strongest examples of this is in Buzzfeed and its ilk. People are longing for the “two minutes that will totally change your worldview” and “cutest puppy ever reunited with owner” because they think that they actually might feel better about the world if they remember that there’s still happy stuff. Puppies are wonderful in fact, and there are great things to learn of and experience.

That being said, I personally think that this has a tendency to backfire a bit. People seek these out hoping to find some meaning, and when they don’t find it, it reinforces this notion of meaningless. Happiness is fleeting and cheap, and the drudge of existence is neither.

Looking back on my own educational experiences, we were always taught the sanitized, easy history. We were never taught that the world could be rough, and as such many have no coping mechanisms at all. They turn to their peers, and find that they too have no mechanisms. Combined with the difficulties of life (no more substantial, indeed less so, than those of past generations) that blindside people, the sense of hopelessness is essentially complete.

If I might bring in one societal evil that is contributing, it’s the notion that everyone should go to college. People go through 4-6 years of difficulty, accumulating massive debt and struggling with the educational basics more often than not, all while being told “this is the best time in your life” until they exit the academic bubble with nothing but a piece of paper saying “BA in Cinematography” or some such and no real world context, experience, or marketable skills. Instead of getting the head start in life that is expected, they’ve set themselves back a lot for no apparent gain.

There are lots of other factors, particularly the hateful rhetoric so common between various labels and subcultures, but they all seem to be subsets of this primary sense. Some people just can’t quite take what the world has become and what the world asks them to be. Without meaning, intimacy, and with a strong sense of awareness towards many ills in the world, it is hardly surprising that so many despair.

I’m sure most of what I’ve talked about is unconscious for most people. It’s just the growing fester in the back of the mind that says “This isn’t worth it.”

For me, I have found the meaning I need in life. I have found ways to be genuine with people. I’ve managed to find the answers I needed. I’m sure others can do the same.

Obviously, I’m not a psychologist or sociologist. I’m just a college senior going into marine biology. I can just say what I’ve seen, what I have experienced and what I think explains it. I may be wrong on every meaningful level, and if so, I hope you will forgive me that.

And for anyone who may find this who are considering taking your own life, I can only say this. I don’t know what answers you might find that can help you through this. I don’t know that I understand your situation or your position. I’m sure I don’t know the whole story. I do know however that there are answers out there. There are people far better qualified than I to help you look for them. Please, find someone you can talk to. Things can be better.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The R51 Shall Arise Again

Last week, I spoke over the phone with Jessica Kallam of Remington PR. We talked about the past and future of the R51, and Remington today released a statement confirming what we talked about.

July 25, 2014
Remington R51 Pistol Product Update

Earlier this year, we launched the innovative R51 subcompact pistol to critical acclaim. During testing, numerous experts found the pistol to function flawlessly. In fact, they found it to have lower felt recoil, lower muzzle rise and better accuracy and concealability than other products in its class.

However, after initial commercial sales, our loyal customers notified us that some R51 pistols had performance issues. We immediately ceased production to re-test the product. While we determined the pistols were safe, certain units did not meet Remington’s performance criteria. The performance problems resulted from complications during our transition from prototype to mass production. These problems have been identified and solutions are being implemented, with an expected production restart in October.

Anyone who purchased an R51 may return it and receive a new R51 pistol, along with two additional magazines and a custom Pelican case, by calling Remington at (800) 243-9700.
The new R51 will be of the same exceptional quality as our test pistols, which performed flawlessly.
We appreciate your patience and support.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I am excited for October. I played with several R51s at the NRA show in Indianapolis and spent some time talking to one of their representatives on the floor. Quite simply I am glad to see that this design has not been memory-holed. It's fun, it's different, and by several early accounts, it's quite pleasant to shoot. I'm still looking to get paws on one to review in October.

My understanding of Remington's attitude towards their products is high expectations. As stated in the release, the pistols were safe, but not up to snuff. Similarly, the massive recall of 700s earlier this year was not in response to any single incident where there was an accident, merely that there was a discovery of the potential for an accident.

I still think Remington is a good company. I still think the R51 is a solid concept. I look forward to seeing how this all shakes out.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

On Welfare

A friend posted a rant to Facebook that warranted a response. The general theme as I won't copy paste the whole thing was 'I'm tired of fortunate people complaining about welfare. It seems selfish to complain about helping people living in third world conditions. Socialism isn't inherently bad, it merely has been used for bad.' I responded thusly:

This is where I start to sound callous, but I hope you will understand the context of the fact that I do care about the plight of those far less fortunate than I am, that I put my money where my mouth is and donate money, and that I do recognize two things: I am very fortunate in the way I have lived, and our country is not in an awful state yet. That being said, there are three things I would like to mention.

First, a lot of the debate revolves around "lets stop it at bad point a so it doesn't get to horrific point b." Socialist states outright murdered somewhere between 80 and 100 million people in the 20th century. The average standard of living dropped significantly in most of those states. Economically and realistically, socialism will not raise the bottom up to a decent standard, it will drop the top to an indecent standard.

Second, this country's social contract is based on guarantee of fundamental rights. Life, Liberty, Pursuit of Property. This guarantee does not mean that anything will be provided for you, but merely that no one can take away that which you have. Can you tell me on a fundamental level what the difference is between a government claiming ownership of the product of your labors and slavery? 'From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs' is the perfect model of slavery.

Would you want to be enslaved? it's generally considered fairly abhorrent, yes? Yet some African Americans post slavery expressed a wish for it back, because they were better off as slaves than left to their own devices. That is essentially what we see today. There are some who, left to their own devices, have failed. A life of servitude in exchange for the daily bread sounds far better than what they have, so they wish everyone to be in those straights so they can have theirs. It's equally selfish to that which you deride, but this time, the product in question hasn't been earned.

The most fundamental of rights is the right to fail.

Third point, then I'll shut up since this is nearly as long as your post at this point. Can you look me in the eye and tell me most welfare recipients are grateful for the help? That they have no desire to be on welfare, and wouldn't be if they could work for their way instead? Some are, of that I have no doubt, and to them I hold no distaste. I would prefer to see them helped through a mechanism a bit more stable and efficient than the US Government, which bleeds inefficiency and loss at every turn, but I have no problem with them being helped. The trouble comes in the people who feel that they deserve the products of someone else's labor by merit of nothing more than being. The people who are content to sit on their butts eating twinkies and watching satellite tv while someone else's money comes in. The people who express hatred for the Bill Gates' and Warren Buffets of the world, simply for the fact that they have something.

If you don't believe these people exist, go through the south or west sides of Chicago. See the slums with satellite dishes on every roof. See the cars and the appliances and the fridges. The poor in this country are NOT like the third world. Third world has people digging through trash piles for something to eat. Third world has backbreaking labor the only way to survive, and not well at that. The standard of living in this country for all but the extreme bottom is far, far better than the well off in the third world.

Believe it or not, conservative and libertarian philosophies are not about selfishness. They are not cold and callous. They are legitimately the best efforts of the people involved to make sure everyone is treated right.