Another Public Shooting, Another Day in America

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

SOURCE: American Gun Facts, <https://americangunfacts.com/gun-ownership-statistics/>.

19 students and 2 teachers killed at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. The gunman is 18-year-old Salvador Ramos.

“The suspect purchased two AR-15-style rifles on May 22, two days before the massacre and six days after his birthday (ABC News, 2022).”1

Acquaintances of Ramos have described him to ABC News as “a weird kid” suggesting anti-social behavior and a reputation as an outcast, a state not uncommon among younger Americans particularly males.

“The shooter was able to make entry into a classroom, barricaded himself inside that classroom, and . . . just began shooting numerous children and teachers that were in that classroom, having no regard for human life (Lt. Christopher Olivarez, Texas Department of Public Safety, 2022).”2

I am honestly desensitized to news stories like this because I have read too many of these headlines. No population that tolerates this kind of public violence every year, every month, sometimes every day, should be considered “civilized.” Will our politicians do anything about this gun violence? Probably not? Will a majority of Americans continue voting for these politicians? Probably.

There is no question that the United States of America has an issue with guns. Just by numbers alone: there are approximately 329.5 million people in the U.S. (U.S. Census, 2020)3 and the number of firearms is estimated to be over 400 million between military, police, civilians (American Gun Facts, 2022) with approximately 98% of those firearms in civilian hands.4 The simple fact that this country is saturated with firearms leads to the inevitable outcome of more crimes involving firearms.

The Gun Control Act of 1968 sets a national standard for the purchase of firearms – rifles can be purchased at 18 years of age while handguns can be purchases at 21 years of age (Shirin Ali, The Hill, 2022).5 An amending piece of legislation in 1993, the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, federally mandated background checks from licensed firearm dealers. However, regulations (including age restrictions) vary between states (which seems to contradict the age restriction set in the Gun Control Act of 1968). Some states have a lower age limit on handguns, some states have no limits on firearm possession. Considering the age limit for alcohol purchases is set at 21 years of age I think the age limit on firearm purchases should at least match that for alcohol purchases since alcohol consumption has a tendency to make one more violent by impairing judgment and unleashing inhibitions. There also must be a consistent standard for firearm purchases and possession enforced by the national government.

1ABC News, <https://abc7.com/elementary-school-shooting-texas-shooter-salvador-ramos-uvalde-tx/11893076/>.

2National Public Radio, <https://www.npr.org/2022/05/25/1101175912/uvalde-texas-shooting-victims-4th-grade-classroom>.

3Data Commons, <https://datacommons.org/place/country/USA?utm_medium=explore&mprop=count&popt=Person&hl=en>.

4American Gun Facts, <https://americangunfacts.com/gun-ownership-statistics/#:~:text=See%20Owning%20Gun-,How%20Many%20Guns%20in%20America%3F,120%20firearms%20per%20100%20citizens.>.

5The Hill, <https://thehill.com/changing-america/resilience/smart-cities/3493244-the-legal-ages-for-buying-a-gun-in-the-us/>.

Crossroads

There was a brief time when I was contemplating a career in law. Indeed it was one of my motivations for relocating from Questa to Albuquerque in 2017. I had a vision in my head of becoming a defense attorney and advocating for Americans who lack the financial stability to ideally utilize our legal system. This brain worm infected my mind effectively enough to move me to New Mexico’s largest city and research how one gets accepted into the University of New Mexico’s law school. I bought the book LSAT for Dummies, attended a class about the feared admission test at UNM’s Continuing Education department, and was Googling financial assistance for prospective law students.

I think the singular test prep course at UNM was my first hurdle and what placed the first seeds of doubt in my mind regarding this potential career choice. The course was taught, not by a professor, but a lawyer (if my memory is serving me well he was a defense attorney for Bernalillo County’s Public Defender office). He may have been the most dry, uninspiring, and boring teacher under which I learned. The course was just one afternoon but his monotone voice was constantly lulling me to sleep. Perhaps it was the subject matter. If you can find me a teacher who can make test prep into an exciting learning opportunity then you should probably hire that person for your own entrepreneurial endeavors. The course took my mind from the idealistic vision I had crafted for myself back into the practical mechanisms of student life two years after I had completed my tenure as an undergraduate and it reminded me of the tedium that plagues American educational institutions. After that course I was less enthusiastic about returning to school.

For the next three years I would create a dichotomy in my mind dominated by a crossroads displaying my idealized versions of two career paths: one as a law student and one as a writer. In retrospect it was a rather silly conundrum since I was wasting time I could have been spending on either one of the two career choices. My advice to anyone placing such a dichotomous decision on themselves is to literally flip a coin. Whatever the outcome of the coin toss, you will know which choice resonates more with your desires after the reveal.

Today I like to think I’m developing a sharper eye for opportunities. I’ve moved back to the Questa area beneath the Sangre de Cristo Mountains for a specific deal on my housing that I would be an idiot to let pass by and I’m now working what might be a dream job to my high school self. In general life seems to be okay for me right now. I suppose my goal in writing this is to encourage anyone reading this who has yet to find some semblance of purpose to try setting up a long-term goal no matter what it is and aim at that for the time being. Changing your aims in the future is always a possibility but I think simply having something at which to aim your life is a good start creating a purpose for yourself.

Now I guess I just have one more thing to say.

Did I successfully channel a Hunter S. Thompson-esque vibe with this photo?

As an ongoing effort to adopt a more positive mindset I have been cutting some metaphorical fat from my media consumption. The following video is an interview which I think may help anyone who is looking to develop some self-discipline and create an aim in life.

Why I write.

The word “politics” is rooted in the Greek word “politika” meaning “affairs of the cities.” I think this root definition is important to remember because it is a reminder that any kind of political organization must begin locally and communally. Politics starts with your relationships with your neighbors, your mailmen, your store clerks, your food servers, your teachers, your kids’ teachers, your co-workers, your bosses, your employees, etc. Maintaining positive (or at least neutral) relationships with the people within close proximity to us is how we maintain empathy for other people and build a healthy democratic society. News organizations can make communication within a community easier but they cannot replace individual initiatives. There must be incentives for individuals to get out and forge connections with others.

I think there are aspects of American societies that can be re-organized to be more efficient in application. Decentralization is the key to efficiency. One aspect of our infrastructure that we can start to re-structure is our food sources. Specifically, making our food distribution systems as locally sourced as possible with intentions to reduce travel times. Community gardens can be a decent first step to localization as well as encouraging more people to grow their own household food whenever possible.

Decentralization is the key to efficiency.

Dylan R.N. Crabb

I like to revisit my own values periodically with the intention to maintain a fluid idea of who I am as a person. Here is a list of philosophical values which I hold fundamental in my mind (at 31-years-old):

  • Humanism
  • Responsibility
  • Sustainability
  • Equality of opportunity
  • Democratic-republicanism

I have developed a distaste for political labels such as “conservative” and “liberal” although I still have a romanticist fondness for the term “liberal.” It might be better to explain one’s beliefs in detail and let other people place you into whatever boxes they’ve created in their own minds. I suppose one important thing to know me is that I have no patience to play insipid social games with other people, I prefer to be direct and tell you whatever is on my mind. I don’t care how you think I should speak/behave/react, I will live out my one life to my preferences and no one else’s. I write more for myself than anybody else, not to please anybody but to release my punditry to the world in my own effort to make it a little less shitty than it was when I was born. Interviewing people is how I keep myself in tune with other people despite my inherently poor social skills. I feel like reporting news is what I was born to do on this planet and I hope that I help to educate the public regardless of the publication to which I am contributing.

I feel like reporting news is what I was born to do.

Dylan R.N. Crabb
Ryan Holiday is an author, a business owner, and the creator of the YouTube channel Daily Stoic.

A Rail Road to Economy

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

The liberal is out and the conservative is in! This tiny village in the southern Rocky Mountains that has been desperate to re-invent itself after Corporate America bent it over and fucked it just elected a new mayor bent on keeping out the one industry that might be able to shock the village awake. The village has been on life support for four years and the conservative, anti-drug Mayor-elect is bent on creating his own Stepford village of an America that barely even existed.

John Ortega photographed here being sworn into the Questa Village Council.

The cannabis industry in America can be analogized to a steam locomotive in the late 19th century barreling through the wild west of superstition and tradition leaving a civilized order in its wake. And the churches and anti-drug coalitions are the native Americans.

John Ortega‘s naïve attitude towards recreational drug use blinds him from the economic opportunities that the growing cannabis industry can offer the Village of Questa. Questa, like much of small-town America, remains in the grip of a religious influence that thrives off stoking fears of alternative methods and mindsets, changing demographics, and shifts in human migration in which anti-drug sentiments are rooted. Hopefully Mayor-elect Ortega will prioritize Questa’s economic needs over any personal apprehensions toward the cannabis plant. The Mayor-elect and the incoming Village Councilor will be sworn into their respective offices come April.

In a time of high-priced commodities, real estate, and just about everything else municipalities need any source of revenue onto which the they can get their greedy, capitalist claws if they are to fulfill a semblance of their duty to the public they serve. Regardless of whichever archaic, supposedly all-powerful entity you pray for, we all speak the language of financial exchanges. The fact is that cannabis can bring in money for many communities throughout small-town America struggling to survive in a global marketplace.

From left to right: Councilor-elect Jason Gonzalez, outgoing Councilor Charlie Gonzales, outgoing Mayor Mark Gallegos, Councilor Louise Gallegos, Mayor-elect John Ortega (Election Day, 3/4/2022).

Renting and Consuming in Albuquerque

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

Albuquerque isn’t a bad place to be (for New Mexico). It’s an urban oasis for city slickers trapped among the eastward migrations from the over-priced west coast, but the city is still a couple decades removed from the millennial generation. I’ve been living in Albuquerque for more than a year now and I still feel like Paul Kemp on his first day in San Juan, Puerto Rico, trying to make sense of a city plagued with vice and optimism while being flooded with hopeless venture capitalists. Two soul-sucking jobs in food service are paying my way through my latter 20’s while I try and force the words in my head into a coherent collection on paper with an intent for monetization. All the while, temptations of the mind are all around me, luring me through their doors with carefully crafted messages promising to take away from the daily despair to a heavenly euphoria. Tension seems to be the only thing driving me to get up in the morning, “the tension between a restless idealism and a sense of impending doom (Hunter S. Thompson, the Rum Diary, 1998).”

As long as I put aside the cash for next month’s rent, I’ll survive this city just long enough to get the hell out.

Can we all just play some games together?

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

Politics is becoming way too tribal these days and I’m becoming more inclined to simply opt out of the process altogether.  Why state my opinion if I’ll just get taken out of context and demonized by my opponents?  Why try to promote truth when most people don’t care about truth?  I’ll just stick to my dead-end jobs and enjoy my days off with some video games.

 

Destiny 2 5_16_2019 11_48_35 AM
A Hunter meets a Titan on Nessus (Destiny 2).

 

I think the best way to be politically involved is in your local community (at least).  Your home community will have the most effects on your daily life and your daily interactions can have some influence on the local culture (however small that influence may be).  Perhaps the keys to countering rising political tribalism lie in expanding your personal interactions on the local level.  Every facet of your life should not be a part of some grand political fight, that kind of life grows exhausting very fast.  We need to remember to take time away from our personal politics to just spend time with people – no politics, no grand-standing, no partisan bullshit – just spending time with your peers casually bantering with one another (like people used to do in the days before internet connections).

Personally, I would love to find some gamers in Albuquerque just to get together with a couple times a week and talk about video games for a couple hours.  Maybe I should start a “No Politics” club to attract more intelligent people. 😀 lol Maybe I can even bring back the Know Nothing Party. 🙂

Btw, my Blizzard gamertag is “Crabb90#1566” if any Destiny players want to jump into the Crucible with me. 😉

A Globalized Economy and Drugged Shrimp

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

Three years into the administration of President Donald Trump and the economy is “booming” (at least for bankers, investment firms, and corporate business).  Rural communities are still struggling to maintain some independence in the modern world but at least Wall Street is thriving off of consolidation and exploitation.  The state of contemporary working classes all over the globe is enough to induce a state of depression but at least business classes and service industries are making us all fat and content with modern luxuries.  There are even some British shrimp that are getting high off of human excesses, the drug war has gone international and is now affecting our water ways.  Tricky Dick would be proud.

And while some communities scrape up some money to implement idealistic policies such as plastic bag bans and carbon taxes (the “liberal agenda” at work), the rest of us are working our butts off to keep our bank accounts just above poverty levels, all for a slim chance to “make it big” and join the ranks of the fabulously wealthy “one percent” (the American Dream, am I right?).

This new world of constant connections and interdependence has its advantages but the transition has been tough for us millennials as we struggle to forge our own destinies amidst endless distractions and, as social services continue to be cut from government budgets in an effort to “reign in spending” in the name of “fiscal responsibility,” it seems like the purpose of government itself comes more and more into question.  I suppose we can always get another bullshit job after another serving fried food to fat Americans and getting drunk on our craft beers.

Albuquerque Passes Clean & Green Retail Ordinance on a 5-3 vote.

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

img_20190415_170013005
Inside the Vincent E. Griego Chambers prior to the start of the city council meeting.

The Albuquerque City Council met with a full house of spectators last night, forty-one of those people signed up to speak publicly in front of the Council on a specific item agenda.  Councilor Cynthia Borrego was absent from the meeting which brought the quorum down to 8 from the full 9-member council.  The spotlight was on the Clean & Green Ordinance, a local measure to “pressure businesses (Councilor Pat Davis)” into transitioning to more environmentally-friendly consumer containers.

img_20190415_165001625
The Clean & Green Ordinance as listed on the council meeting agenda.

The ordinance was amended to a phased-in ban to take effect on 1/1/2020, rather than an immediate ban as a temporary reprieve for local businesses from the extra costs of transitioning away from cheap plastics.  In the meantime until January of 2020, plastic grocery bags and plastic straws will be available upon request of individual customers.  The ordinance was also amended to add a charge of ten cents onto customers asking for plastic bags as a way to encourage consumers to start transitioning to reusable containers.

Opposition to the ordinance came from the restaurant industry, specifically the New Mexico Restaurant Association, arguing that the current cost of transitioning from plastics would be to great on business owners and that consumer prices would inevitably increase as a consequence.  A counter-point to that argument was made by private citizens in favor of the ordinance, that the cost is already artificially low and that consumers should be paying more for the luxury of take-home containers.  A representative from the New Mexico Recycling Association also made an appearance to speak on behalf of the ordinance.

The proponents of the ordinance focused their arguments on the environmental impacts of plastic trash and claimed responsibility on governments to force the hand of businesses for the sake of the planet.  The counter-point to that argument focused on individual liberty and government over-reach, the responsibility of clean environments should be on individuals and businesses making better choices willingly rather than out of necessity.

The three Councilors who voted against the ordinance in the final vote were Councilors Brad Winter, Trudy Jones, and Don Harris.

Trust me, I’m a writer.

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

“Journalism is not supposed to be propaganda from politicians.  Journalism is supposed to hold politicians accountable for what they say (Ana Kasparian, The Young Turks, 2019).”

How can a news organization today (particularly a new organization) gain the trust of the public given the current over-saturation of the market?  I think the key is transparency for themselves, each reporter/editor/producer must be willing to put their name in front of the public eye and stand up for their work in the face of criticism.  Make sure that any one of your readers/viewers/listeners can approach you with questions if they so desire and accept criticism with grace; do not let praise inflate your ego.  This is also just good advice in general – be honest with yourself about what you’re doing, try to be self-aware in what you do, and maintain an over-arching vision to guide your work.

It’s impossible to be completely objective simply because most humans orient themselves around their subjective feelings rather than logic and their objective surroundings but that doesn’t mean that we can not strive for objectivity for its own sake.  Every human has the capacity for logical reasoning through critical thinking and discourse, it’s what makes our species so powerful in nature – we can come together around common goals and manipulate our environment in ways other animals can not.  However; this attribute is a double-edged sword for, if we remain too long in one group with the same ideas in circulation over and over and over again, our minds become dull from ease and the group weakens with fatigue.  To maintain a competitive edge, a group of humans must always be inviting to a variety of ideas, individuals must be willing to challenge themselves to sharpen their arguments.  Echo chambers are dangerous.

This is exactly what modern media has become: an ecosystem of echo chambers.  People on the political Right-wing have their own sources, people on the political Left-wing have their own sources, and more moderately-minded people don’t know where to go for sources so they try to read multiple sources from both sides of the spectrum (if they don’t opt out of politics altogether) all the while animosity for everyone else increases and politics becomes more and more tribal.  Modernity is supposed to be more civilized than tribalism.

I think I’m digressing, let’s go back to the topic of modern news media.  I think the key to success in news media is transparency which is why I want to list what I think is important to discuss when it comes to political engagement, government functions, and such:

  • the role of a government relative to the society it presides over,
  • hearing from a variety of perspectives regardless of popularity,
  • clarifying differences between perspectives and taking care to NOT miss-represent one’s ideas.

I believe these to be important facets of news media – a result of my own beliefs in individualism, free speech, pluralism, government and corporate transparency, and democratic-republicanism.  My goal with my writing (both my personal writing and professional writing) is to promote inquiry into how our societies operate, encourage more people to ask questions that some people in positions of power may not want to answer.  I’ve written in the past about my belief in writing skills and their importance to civilization and I stand by that belief today.

New Mexico Relaxes Criminality of Cannabis, Maintains Control of Distribution

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed Senate Bill 406 into law this week, the new law institutes several measures into effect this year regarding the criminality of cannabis as well as its distribution.

“. . . local school boards and the governing bodies of charter schools shall authorize by rule the possession, storage and administration of medical cannabis by parents and legal guardians, or by designated school personnel, to qualified students for use in school settings . . . (NM SB406, page 1).”

The state will implement cannabis into schools for medical use under strict supervision and only to designated students.

The new will also amend the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act (the successful bill that legalized medicinal cannabis) to widen it’s umbrella for who can qualify as a cannabis patient/producer in the state, an individual cannabis patient/producer must still be licenced with the state’s Department of Health.

“. . . EXEMPTION FROM CRIMINAL AND CIVIL PENALTIESFOR THE MEDICAL USE OF CANNABIS. –

A.  A qualified patient or a qualified patient’sprimary caregiver shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution or penalty in any manner for the possession of or the medical use of cannabis if the quantity of cannabis does not exceed an adequate supply; provided that a qualified patient or the qualified patient’s primary caregiver may possess that qualified patient’s harvest of cannabis.

B.  A reciprocal participant shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution or penalty in any manner for the possession of or the medical use of cannabis if the quantity of cannabis does not exceed the limit identified by department rule.

C.  The following conduct is lawful and shall not constitute grounds for detention, search or arrest of a person or for a violation of probation or parole, and cannabis products that relate to the conduct are not contraband or subject to seizure or forfeiture pursuant to the Controlled Substances Act or the Forfeiture Act:

  1. a qualified patient or primary caregiver possessing or transporting not more than an adequate supply or a reciprocal participant possessing or transporting not more than the limit identified by department rule;
  2. a qualified patient or primary caregiver purchasing or obtaining not more than an adequate supply from a lawful source or a reciprocal participant purchasing or obtaining not more than the limit identified by department rule;
  3. a qualified patient using or being under the influence of cannabis; provided that the qualified patient is acting consistent with law;
  4. a qualified patient or primary caregiver transferring, without financial consideration, to a qualified patient or primary caregiver not more than two ounces of cannabis; or
  5. with respect to cannabis cultivated under a personal production license, a qualified patient or primary caregiver possessing, planting, cultivating, harvesting, drying, manufacturing or transporting cannabis plants or cannabis products as allowed by department rule; provided that a qualified patient or primary caregiver who possesses a personal production license shall not manufacture cannabis products using an oil extractor solvent that is stored under pressure unless the qualified patient or primary caregiver holds a separate license from the department permitting the person to manufacture cannabis products using an oil extractor solvent that is under pressure (NM SB406, pages 14-16).”

Individuals under 18 years of age can qualify for the medical cannabis program but it must go through the parents/guardian.

SB406 was sponsored by Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino, a long-time advocate for cannabis as a medicinal and commerical product in the state legislature.