Vegas: Conspiracies, Doubts, and Lies

After a good number of questions coming in following my thoughts on the attack in Las Vegas with an up-front lean toward accepting one or another of the many conspiracy “theories”, I have opted to put some thoughts together on this, and hopefully in some small way get people focused back on the truth instead of the fantasy.

In our culture of instant gratification, it is expected, I suppose, that people might want answers to certain questions sooner than such answers can be had. Idle minds are apt to create a story where no such story exists.

Adding to the problem is the social media fame-seeking issue. People who want desperately to be seen as relevant take any path they see as controversial in order to increase likes and follows.

Lives were lost. That is a reality that we must not forget. Using tragedies for increasing your own fame is sub-human behavior.

By far, the most frequently repeated conspiracy theory involves the idea that there was more than one shooter. They are basing this on the known fact of more than twenty guns in the hotel room, and adjustments to the timeline of the event as reported by Law Enforcement.

All conspiracy theories have to use facts which will then be interpreted in favor of the theory. They ignore that they are looking to support a foregone conclusion. The problem is that this is no way to find the truth.

So, let’s begin with the multiple gun issue.

Why would one man have so many guns in the room? There had to have been more than one shooter with that many weapons there? Right?!?!?!

Wrong.

Any semi-automatic weapon is engineered from the start to be a semi-automatic weapon. Ask anyone who knows anything at all about bump-fire stocks and they will tell you that it absolutely causes a drastic increase in the number of malfunctions you will have. Some of these malfunctions can be cleared easily, some leave the weapon inoperable. The killer obviously knew this, hence the many weapons. He intended to kill a lot of people, and knew he would not have a lot of time to clear a jammed rifle or fix a malfunction, so he opted for swapping out a jammed rifle for a different one.

See! There is a perfectly logical explanation available that does not resort to the conspiracy justifications.

But, but, but…why does the official timeline of the event keep changing?

There are two factors at play here, and in all honesty, I do not know which one is having the bigger influence on the slow information and the changing timeline. So, I will just give you these two things to think about: lawsuits and pressure.

It should not need to be pointed out, but everyone is going to get sued. The hotel, the city, the concert promoter – anyone with any connection to the area on the night of October 1st is going to be sued. This fact will slow the information coming from the hotel and any other potentially sued party to Law Enforcement.

Law Enforcement is under pressure from the media and the public to start giving answers. They are still going through the investigation process, but people feel they have a right to know now. Even before Law Enforcement has the answers.

I would advise anyone who will listen, please calm down. It is better for the investigation to end up with the right answer than it is for them to give you what you want to hear. I have watched every video I can find that was taken while the shooting was happening and I can find nothing to make me think that more than one gun was being fired at the same time. I have even watched the video and listened to the audio from people who think there was audio proof. It simply isn’t there. My number of subscribers and the number of shares would increase incredibly if I were willing to promote some of the conspiracy theories floating around, especially if I were to make one of my own so I could be the “journalist” who “breaks the story”, but I am not like that. Calm down, drink a chamomile tea, and wait while the professionals do their job.

Be nice to each other, things are rough out there right now.                                    

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Unintended Consequences: What’s the worst that can happen?

Very often, too often if you really think about it, people find themselves stirred into an emotional frenzy over things that their chosen, and therefore trusted news provider has told them is important. And people are often so worked up over the way a new law or program or ideology might fix a problem that they never stop to ask about the possible problems that might come up.

But taking a moment or two to consider the possible unintended consequences can give you a chance to get past the emotion of the moment, and really look at the problem and your intended solution, and use reason and critical thinking to examine the problem in a new light.

My closest friends know that I am an armchair historian. I am not good enough to consider myself an expert, and I do not have the time available to study as much as I would like, but I do study, and I know a bit. I am going to take a look into history and provide an example of a seemingly harmless plan to solve a near crisis that ended up costing a nation much more than they bargained for or ever would have intentionally given up.

In our day, we are taught that the Native American Indians were a peace-loving and noble people and that the depictions of them as unwashed savages are Hollywood creations.

In truth, the real answer regarding what type of people the American Indians were is going to need the clarification of which tribe you are referring to. Some of the tribes were not really interested in war, others were most assuredly warrior cultures. Some tribes killed and enslaved others as part of habit. Others killed because of grudges that went back many generations. Some were peaceful but had customs that were utterly barbaric, such as the Karankawa practice of feeding newborn daughters to the dogs so that they would not marry an enemy tribe and produce more enemies.

For our purposes here, we will look at the Comanche. In strictly technical terms, the Comanche was not a single Tribe as we think of the word. There were several groups, but they shared a language and by and large were similar in their culture. They raided and killed, and they stole as many horses as they could. Horses were status and money if we simplify things for easy understanding.

The Comanche were hell on wheels…uh…actually hell on horses would be more accurate. They could ride as well or better than anyone, and they rode so much that many people found them to be awkward when not on horseback. They had a low birthrate due to the frequency of miscarriages as the women rode as well. They could fire about twenty arrows in the time it took for a person to reload a firearm of the time (The Kentucky Long Rifle was great for hunting and limited types of warfare in its day, but dismounting to use it against a mounted Comanche was suicide). It is no exaggeration to say the Comanche were the most powerful light cavalry of their time.

Prior to the arrival of the Europeans, the Comanche would attack other Indian tribes, kill them men and enslave the young women and children. After the Europeans, when the first horses were introduced to the Americas, they did the same thing, only they had other victims.

The Comanche commanded a large area, larger than any other tribe, and they were, for a time, the largest and most powerful Indian tribe in America.

And they changed the history of America.

And Mexico.

Americans were not really going to Texas when it was a part of Mexico until the Mexican government decided that it needed a buffer between Mexico and the Comanche. This tribe was so skilled at raiding and killing that the government of a free nation decided to allow other people from a different nation to acquire land in their own territory in order to give the Comanche other people to kill, and a group to slow the raids into their power base.

On the surface, this seemed reasonable, undoubtedly so to the people in charge of Mexico at the time. These would not be fellow countrymen providing a human shield, they were foreigners. They would slow the advance of the Comanche, and maybe even stop raids into Mexico altogether due to the habit the Comanche had of hitting hard and fast and then speeding out as fast as possible to avoid pursuit.

Of course, we know what happened. Americans settled in Texas, they armed themselves heavily after finding themselves at the mercy of a merciless group, and after throwing the Comanche back, they decided they didn’t need the government of Mexico either and fought and won to become the Republic of Texas.

A bad call on the part of Mexico was to try to find an easy way to stop the raiding of the Comanche Indians. Had they not chosen this path, or had the Comanche not been such a fierce enemy, Texas might still be Mexico to this day.

Unintended consequences actually happen. Before taking action on any level, it is good to stop and think, not only of what can happen if everything goes as planned but what might happen if things go very wrong.

The next time a friend or politician or newsman is telling you how this or that is going to easily solve a problem, take the time to consider what might happen if things go terribly wrong.

Victim vs. Personal Responsibility

A long time ago, there was a concept in this Country that gave us great strength and, indeed, power. It was the concept of personal responsibility. The idea that you can work and earn. The idea of saving to buy. The notion that every dog has his day. These were all as American as apple pie. We are not yet a nation of whiny, spineless, cowards who are wishing for a broader definition of “victim” so that we too can be sheltered under that ever-expanding term.

There is, however, a growing chorus of people claiming to be victims of one -ism or another.

There are several problems with seeing yourself as a victim and we will start with power.

Power

When you see yourself as a victim of an –ism you no longer have any power over your own life. You are now a pawn in a game controlled by others. When viewed from the idea of personal responsibility, your failures are a lesson and your success is your own work.

If your success is the result of your hard work, then your failures are attributable to some oversight, or mistake, or poor judgment on your part. This sounds bad, but in truth, it isn’t – because an oversight, mistake, and even poor judgment are correctable flaws and are still under your control! When you decide that your failure to reach your goals is the result of some outside force working against you, well…you can neither control your fate nor overcome the setback. All that is left for you is to complain and offer excuses.

Motivation

When you feel that you control your fate, you have a motivation to try harder, to work more and to learn what it takes to be successful. Being in control over your life, having that power we mentioned above is a powerful motivating factor because we know that our success or failure is entirely in our hands. When your success depends on your own work, you will tend to work harder. When you are a victim, you will not try as hard, and as a result, you will necessarily experience less success. People who are motivated are always willing to give it one more try, or work those extra hours, or make necessary sacrifices in other parts of their life to achieve success. Victims…not so much.

Reward

When you achieve success after the hard work and the sacrifices, the reward is yours. And it means so much more than if it was given to you.

Example: My first vehicle was a 1967 Chevy 3/4 ton pick-up truck. It was beat-up, had paint that was starting to peel off, and it would grind horribly every time you tried to shift into 3rd gear. It had the original radio in it, which no longer worked, and no air-conditioning, which is a big deal in Texas with our nine month summers of 90 degree days and several weeks each year over 100 degrees. It took me several months and a lot of hard work to save the $1,000 that I paid for it.

But it was mine, and it was earned. Far from being embarrassed at how it looked, I was proud of it because it was mine. I remember how thrilled I was when a friend of mine who was a Teacher was changing schools and asked for my help and my truck to move her items from one school to another! No shame, but a great deal of pride.

Contrast that with a friend of mine who bought a car for her daughter. The daughter decided that she liked her mother’s car better, so they traded. Then the daughter wrecked her car and wanted to trade back. The mother traded, took the wreck and traded in on another car, for which the daughter demanded yet another trade. My friend initially refused this trade offer but relented after the daughter claimed that the mother was trying to keep her under her thumb (an asinine accusation). I don’t know where the story went after this because I stopped paying attention…ironically, I find drama to be quite boring.

Without being earned, the reward ceases to be a reward and becomes a bauble.

So the choice is yours; claim the mantle of victimhood, or get out there and work your butt off. The decision is yours, as well as the results of that decision.

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Anger Management

Have you ever said words in a moment of anger that you wish you had not? Do you have a long list of moments where you wish you had a do-over? What about your circle of friends and loved ones, do they wish you could control your temper?

Anger is one of those pesky parts of life that, when we are feeling noble, we speak of it is if it belongs in the category of always wrong, in the same way, we proudly proclaim that violence is always wrong – but always give ourselves an out by adding the cute little “unless…”.

But the anger I want to look at here is the everyday kind of thing and the people who lose their cool over anything, without regard for how such loss of composure affects those around them.

The biggest lie that comes out from this is the excuse of I can’t control it.

Yes, you can. You might not want to, but you certainly can control it should you choose to do so.

A couple of examples come to my mind. Let’s say you are pulled over for speeding by a Police Officer. And for the sake of argument, let’s say that you honestly believe that you were not speeding. You might be angry, very angry. But you will be likely to control it and use a lot of Yes sir/ma’am phrases. Or, in the opposite extreme, think of yourself being robbed at gunpoint. Are you going to lecture the robber on how they did not work to earn your money and therefore don’t deserve it? Nah, you are going to keep your mouth shut and hand over whatever they are demanding. You will run your mouth later, but you will control yourself in the moment.

When we look at it this way, we see that there is no lack of control. It is more a matter of having given ourselves permission to lash out. When we lash out, we seldom restrict our mouths to the issue at hand. We will bring up the failings of the person we are lashing out at with no regard for how long ago these failings were made manifest. We will use terms to categorize the other person as having a deep flaw, such as always and never. In essence, we will exaggerate and lie to them about how bad they are.

When you are able to control your temper in your day to day situations, a couple of things will happen. First,, your life will improve because your outlook will be better, and the people around you will respond to you differently than before. Also, you will learn to stay focused on issues at hand, and this is a benefit on many levels.

And as a final point, I want to add that being a nice person does not have to equal being a vulnerable person. You can be nice from a position of strength. Life is a lot more pleasant when you don’t fly off the handle over everything.

I hope this is helpful. Likes and shares are greatly appreciated!

Trigger Warning: I Don’t Do Trigger Warnings

I do love when I hear from readers. Just the simple fact that someone cares enough about what I write to contact me is a big deal to me. Even when people hate something I write, I enjoy a good debate when we are able to discuss differing ideas. I know I am not the smartest person in almost every room I walk in, so I feel completely unthreatened when people see things differently than I do. When people do not like how I present what I am presenting, I will usually try to see if there is a way I can accommodate them. If I can, I usually will. This week, this proved to be more than I was willing to do.

I received the following email, presented here with any identifying points removed:

Hello Wallace!

I recently discovered your blog. You have a unique method for approaching some issues that are important to me. But you need to be more careful in your style. In reading your blog post on (I’ll leave this blank), I became triggered. Your approach was rough and uncaring for the people who might live in a situation you were only writing about.

I suggest you could start by offering trigger warnings on your blog posts. Once you do this a few times a simple “TW” will do. Put the trigger warning, and then space down a few times to be sure that sensitive readers don’t become triggered through careless spacing. 

I am willing to help you decide what needs trigger warnings, but if you do not want my help, a good way to tell if your post needs a trigger warning is if you wonder if it should have a trigger warning. If you have to ask, then it needs one.

I replied to the email. I thanked the person for the feedback but offered that I am looking to help people become better equipped to face the less-than-pleasant parts of life. I offered my view that trigger warnings allow people to stay in a bubble of comfort and that they become divorced from reality. Lastly, I thanked them for their time in contacting me and hoped that over time they might not become triggered by my writing style, noting that I never intended to come across as rough and uncaring, but maybe it is good to be reminded that rough and uncaring people exist and always will.

Don’t you hate it when you try to console someone, only to find them to be inconsolable?

The reply to me was fast. It was obviously typed in haste (or possibly hate?). I will spare my dear readers the details, but it was a profanity-laden tirade filled with pseudo-threats and lacking anything resembling an argument.

I will not be adding trigger warnings to what I write. If you need that kind of nonsense, read something else written by someone else. Things are not going to get any better. I have several drafts in various states of completion that are covering some really touchy subjects. If you can’t take what has already been published, delete your bookmark to this site and walk away slowly. Some subjects have been handled with kid gloves for too long, and unnecessarily so, I must say.

For those of you who have stayed around this long and continue to do so, I thank you. Likes and shares are deeply appreciated! Also, while I do not give trigger warnings, I do give spoiler warnings whenever necessary!