Dealing With Deadly People & Sears Rant

20 Dec

For several days now, the news has had non-stop coverage of a school shooting. It’s a sad story. A troubled boy shot his mom and then shot several people in a school. Gun control is a constant theme. Mental illness is another.

Let’s begin by saying the obvious: There are many people who are mentally ill who will never harm another person in their life. As has been correctly reported, the mentally ill are too often bullied, picked on, and harmed by others. We don’t want to stigmatize people with mental health issues. That said, something I’ve read a few times is that we can’t be sure the boy’s mental health problems were related to the violence. Yes, we can. Mentally healthy people don’t gun down classrooms full of kids. There is something fundamentally not working correctly in the brain if shooting up a grade school seems like the thing to do. This isn’t the same thing as just being overcome by rage (called an emotional hijacking) and shooting one person.

Police, prison guards, and social workers regularly deal with people with serious mental problems, often compounded by drug or alcohol abuse. Most of us don’t have experience with troubled individuals. There are several kinds of deadly people in the world.

There are psychotics and there are sociopaths. The most dangerous psychotics might be loners, reclusive, and obsessed with the morbid. We should be careful not to stigmatize introverts, shy people, or loners. Many introverts are extremely gentle. Shy people, almost by definition, care about other people, usually caring too much about what other people think of them.

Some parents must deal with dangerous behavior from a child’s early age. The show 20/20  ran an episode (link to hulu) that chronicled this. It’s distressing to watch, but it gives us a new respect for parents struggling with this.

Some parents might recognize that something is wrong, but fail to evaluate a mental-health problem. It’s sad, but after childhood, some children won’t be able to integrate into society. They’ll need to be institutionalized, both for their own safety and for the safety of others. Too many wind up incarcerated in prisons, when they just move out like a normal young adult into the world.

Even with two parents, a child who grows into an adult who wants to burn the house down or behave in other troubling ways is simply too much to handle for parents.

One of the victims neglected by the media was the mother of the shooter, who by all accounts sounded like a generous women who liked gardening. No parent wants to institutionalize her child. But that may be the only solution. Just like a woman fleeing an abusive spouse, there’s a danger at the time of commitment. It has been reported (but not confirmed) that the mother might have been seeking commitment for the son, which may have been the triggering event.

The magazine Psychology Today had an interesting article about the psychosis of the Colorado shooter.  I strongly agree with a statement the author made, “The price of a free society is the acceptance of a certain amount of risk—we can’t be protected from everything and still be free.”

Sociopaths are a different breed. They aren’t shy or reclusive. Most are quite outgoing. They truly don’t care what other people think about them. They lack empathy for others. The link above has a link to a pdf of a classic book (The Mask Of Sanity) about sociopaths. Sociopaths are often harmless, but a nuisance.

Because they have no sense of other people’s feelings, they’ll do things like steal cars just to drive across town. They often become confidence men or mooches. According to the book The Sociopath Next Door, about 4-5% of the population might have sociopathic tendencies. Some people who suffer damage to a particular part of the brain become sociopaths, literally, by accident.

Gun control is the other topic that has become popular in the news. Before the shooting, there was no push to reinstate the assault weapons ban or limit magazine capacity. It was a dead topic. The recent shooting has changed this.

In a response to an article on emergencymgmt.com, David Nash (TNgun.com) said that it’s important for preppers to be seen as “smart, responsible, individual’s beacons of liberty and good judgment.”

He is right, not just for prepping, but especially now, for gun ownership. If I had to guess, I’d bet about 30% of Americans are strong supporters of the 2nd Amendment. About 10% are adamantly opposed to gun ownership. This leaves 60% of the population that is subject to being influenced one way or the other. So what other people think of us, as gun owners, is important. It’s that large group in the middle that will determine what restrictions exist on gun ownership in the future.

What I dislike is an attempt to rewrite history and portray the 2nd Amendment as a right conferred to the States.

As gun owners, one thing we can all do to protect our rights is to keep most of our weapons locked up and safe. We must have some weapons available for personal defense, but the fewer weapons that fall into troubled hands, the better.

While the tendency is for people to want the government to protect them from acts of insanity, I think many preppers and others want to protect themselves. I read an article that in Minnesota, after the shooting, permits for CCW are up sharply.

***
In a recent post, I recommended Craftsman tools as a possible gift, only the Made-in-the-USA automotive hand tools. Avoid anything made by them with an engine or electric motor. A few years ago, when I needed new tires, I didn’t take my car to them, even though they were the lowest price. They had too horrible a reputation for automotive trickery. I didn’t want them anywhere near my vehicles.

When I got some tools for the holidays this year, they canceled one item, but billed me for it anyway. After six or so e-mails with their support staff, who kept insisting I hadn’t been charged for the cancelled item (even though I had the credit card bill in my hand showing the full charge) I just had the credit card company reverse the charges.

If you’re billed for merchandise you didn’t receive (from any seller), here is what the FTC recommends you do to get the credit card company to reverse the charge.  If you paid with Paypal, you can file a dispute with them. Filing a BBB complaint is another option.

When I stumbled upon this (looking for others b****** about Sears), I nearly fell over. Sears had to settle with the FTC for violating customer’s privacy. Sears had asked people to “join their community” which really meant they installed some tracking software on the customer’s computer.

The FTC charge said, “the software would also monitor consumers’ online secure sessions – including sessions on third parties’ Web sites – and collect information transmitted in those sessions, such as the contents of shopping carts, online bank statements, drug prescription records, video rental records, library borrowing histories, and the sender, recipient, subject, and size for web-based e-mails.”

For those of you climbing back on your chair after falling off, you read it correctly. If you had this malware installed by Sears, they might know your bank balance, your library record, and what you did on other third-party websites. Talk about Big Brother! It’s astounding a corporation would have so little respect for their customer’s privacy.

Despite all this, I still want to snatch up what Craftsman Tools I desire, because many experts predict Sears won’t last long and many of the newer tools are being made in China.

***
I should have mentioned this earlier, but Menards has a sale on 60 Watt and 75 Watt American-made Sylvania double-life incandescent light bulbs. A pack of four is $0.99. For those in the dark, next month, 75 watt incandescent bulbs will no longer be made. The year after that, the 60 watt bulbs go the way of the do-do bird and Twinki too. Most amazingly, our local utility rates are going up 9% next year, because the utility company says people are using less energy so they need to bill us more for it!

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