Happiness Is Being An Aging Liberal

A friend (who also happens to be my most dedicated commentator) sent me a link to a new study on what makes us happy. Now, typically I approach such things with a bit of skepticism. It is, after all, common to see studies touting sample sizes of mere handfuls or studies lasting for very short lengths of time. Not this one, however! This study followed 268 men for seventy-five freaking years. That’s pretty damn impressive, in and of itself. Another impressive fact, aside from the length of the study, was the breadth of it:

. . . measuring an astonishing range of psychological, anthropological, and physical traits—from personality type to IQ to drinking habits to family relationships to “hanging length of his scrotum”—in an effort to determine what factors contribute most strongly to human flourishing.

Now that is some thorough research. I’ve honestly never wondered whether the “hanging length of the scrotum” might contribute, positively or negatively, to one’s level of happiness.

Some of the data proves what common sense already dictated: drinking is bad for your happiness, smoking kills you. Nice to have a scientific confirmation for these things, but nothing really earthshaking yet. Don’t worry, we’ll get to that bit soon.

It was interesting to me that “there was no significant difference in maximum income earned by men with IQs in the 110–115 range and men with IQs higher than 150.” It seems a little bit counter-intuitive, but if I might speculate, perhaps this is because the 110-115 range is the IQ most likely to have a decently paying job while individuals in the 150+ range are more likely to pursue intellectually stimulating professions that offer only comparable or inferior salaries. Like I said, this is speculation on my part; the study itself indicates that it is a higher number of “warm relationships” rather than IQ that contributes more towards high income and personal happiness.

For me, here’s the statistic that I found both the most interesting and also the most personally satisfying:

Aging liberals have more sex. Political ideology had no bearing on life satisfaction—but the most-conservative men ceased sexual relations at an average age of 68, while the most-liberal men had active sex lives into their 80s. “I have consulted urologists about this,” Vaillant writes. “They have no idea why it might be so.”

So while my liberal ideology won’t make me more satisfied with my life, it will mean I’ll likely have more sex. And while that might not lead to happiness on its own, I certainly can’t imagine where it’s going to hurt my chances at happiness. I don’t know about you, but this fact makes me feel a certain smug sense of satisfaction and vindication, which is not to say that I felt my beliefs needed vindication. It’s just one of those things.

If you’d like to find out the true cause of happiness, since it’s not a higher IQ or more sex, check out the article.

An Idealistic Thought For The Day

I know I linked to him in yesterday’s post about Romanticism, but I think David Brin really did have a point about the state of the world (beyond just the scope of Romanticism and the fantasy genre) and I wanted to highlight it in light of some other recent news.

From David Brin’s blog:

“. . . anyone who thinks we’ve gotten worse in our brutal savagery is simply a historical ignoramus.  I mean an ignoramus of historical proportions, who knows nothing of what the Assyrians did to the lost ten tribes of Israel, or the Romans to Judea, or the Mongols to Poland, or the Spanish to every native population they encountered. Or the Polynesians to each other, every year. Do you doubt that I could go on with this list? All day and all week? Can you cite counter-examples? Sure, but not many.

By comparison, . . . the per capita rate of violence on planet Earth has plummeted every single decade.

Don’t believe it? Watch this: Stephen Pinker on the Myth of Violence. Then ponder the most marvelous irony: that you think modernity is more violent and cruel only because modernity has succeeded in raising our standards of decent behavior, making us more self-critical about the travesties that remain.  Crimes that are so much milder than our ancestors committed routinely, without a twinge.”

It’s a good point to keep in mind. I know I fall victim to feeling like things are getting worse. It seems like every other day, some asshole from Tucson is making us all look bad. Or people are getting shot. Or blown up. Or blown up due to negligence. Anyway, it just feels like things are getting worse, even though, as Brin argues, the inverse is actually true.

That despair we’re feeling at the state of the world? That’s not the world descending into hell, that’s us getting more sensitive to the horrors that need our silent consent to continue unopposed. A generation ago, fuckwads like Tucson’s own Dean Saxton couldn’t be publicly shamed for his idiocy. Sure, that means he has a larger audience now and his message will reach more minds. It also means that more people will have an opportunity to say, “fuck you and fuck your ideas.” Contrary to popular belief, there is such a thing as bad publicity. The parts of you that exist on the Internet are eternal. These things have a way of sticking around. Maybe Saxton’s name will come up when he’s applying for a job and his fifteen minutes of fame will cost him. Or maybe this will be the greatest aspect of his legacy and this is how history will remember him, as a hateful misogynist swept aside by the changing times.

Silence and ignorance are the sanctuaries that breed cruelty the most effectively. Sure, it doesn’t make a big difference, calling out one asshole to a small audience on a wordpress blog (even if I did pay for my domain so you know that I’m hella serious). The effective change in the world won’t be felt today. Or tomorrow. Or next week. Or next year. I haven’t made the world any better by writing this post. Nobody saves the world by tweeting about it.

But if you get enough small changes? Over a long enough period?

Then you have enough change to erode mountains. Enough small changes together can move continents.

That’s what our technology is doing for us. It’s making us better by helping us to demand that the world be better. And in the mind of a better person, an injustice that was once ignorable is now intolerable. The world seems more intolerable today than it did yesterday because today we’re less willing to tolerate today what yesterday we could comfortably ignore.

Romanticism vs. Enlightenment

As you might infer from the title (you clever reader, you), lately I’ve been preoccupied with the concept of dueling themes. It seems like duality has been a feature of human thought forever. Light vs. dark, good vs. evil, etc. are common enough and certainly universal, but what about the more abstract oppositions? Thought vs. feeling, red vs. blue, law vs. chaos, and other less clear-cut themes are interesting to me because there is not obvious “right” answer. Good vs. evil is banal in the sense that no sane person truly believes that he or she is evil. A person who commits evil is usually certain of their own moral reasons for having done so, no matter how misguided. That, or they’re crazy.

Romanticism vs. Enlightenment is something that’s been on my mind ever since reading through that linked TV tropes page. I also read a post by David Brin that thoroughly denounces the fantasy genre, long a bastion of Romanticism, as “pining for Feudalism.” It all got me thinking and since I do my best thinking at a keyboard, here we are now.

Romanticism is one of those things that writers seem drawn to almost instinctively (unless you’re a science fiction writer). It just seems natural to want to be in the company of Poe, Shelley, Lord Byron, and countless others. All the talk about creativity just seems to fall right in line with the writer’s mindset. On the surface, I’d say I considered myself a Romanticist.

And I really, really like the aesthetic. I like the fantasy genre. I like swords and spells and dragons. I feel much more affinity for those tropes than any other. If such an opposition could be boiled down to two icons, it would be this: Star Wars (Romanticism) or Star Trek (Enlightenment)? I’m in the Star Wars camp.

Here’s the thing: I feel weird for choosing that side. When I think about my ideas and my world views, everything seems to push towards the Enlightenment side of the equation. A co-worker of mine, when posed this question today, said that she preferred the Enlightenment because she “views everything through the lens of feminism” and I found myself agreeing with her; it’s hard to embody feminism (or even the broader definition of humanism) without appealing to Enlightenment ideals.

So, which is it? Romanticism or Enlightenment? Perhaps it’s a foolish question, since a person is too complex to be boiled down to labels and broad definitions, but it seems that with enough consideration of the details, a general trend should emerge. It should be possible to identify one’s self as “leaning towards one” through an overall preference of one set of ideals, even if one does not enjoin all of them. And if these opposing themes are truly in opposition, it doesn’t seem feasible to say that one is “both.” At some point, a definition has to be made.

I do have a reason for why I ponder these things, unrelated as they might be to my larger existence. You know what they say about an examined life, yes? This is me examining my life and myself which should be an unsurprising endeavor for an introvert. I like to think that it’s possible to remove various mental contradictions and incongruousness from myself through the process of self-reflection. Perhaps this is to prevent hypocrisy of thought (a vegetarian who supports the death penalty? Wtf?) or perhaps it’s an attempt to live up to the skeptical ideal.

Maybe I’m over thinking it. All I know is that this is what’s going through my head at the moment.

Tabletop Gaming Weekend: Sunday Recap

For me, Sunday is the gaming day. Almost every week, we gather the troops to play Dungeons  & Dragons or Pathfinder (our current system). Every so often we’ll play another game like Arkham Horror, usually when the DM (me) isn’t feeling up to running a session. It seemed almost foolish to host a Pathfinder game after two solid nights of tabletop, but a DM has to have standards, you know? Even if those standards roughly amount to “being good enough at improv to keep up with the players and act like you meant to do this all along.”

I thought about calling off the game, I really did. Call me crazy, but it just seemed like it would be a mistake. Maybe I wanted to see if I could really go the distance, you know? Even if, in this case, the distance didn’t actually involve that much movement.

Well, to my surprise, we ended up canceling the Pathfinder game anyway due to being short a player, a player whose character had been killed and hadn’t rolled a new one yet, and still needing to level up after last session. With that bookkeeping out of the way, we decided to hold off on the game itself and play something in the meantime. That something turned out to be Sentinels of the Multiverse. (SotM)


SotM is a cooperative card game where you take the role of different heroes and fight against a single villain, represented by its own deck that runs automatically. The characters are archetypal in the best comic book tradition. There’s the Wraith who’s basically a female Batman (but not Batgirl!). Absolute Zero is an ice-based guy with a backstory that manages to involve heroic blackmail (seriously, it’s “here’s a suit to survive your tragedy, now fight for good or we’ll repo that shit”). Fanatic is your winged angelic crusader with a huge sword and a “smite the evulz” complex. I ended up as Nightmist, the paranormal investigator who ended up tapping into dark powers and now wields those powers against evil. Like I said, classic. Fun fact: there’s a few very subtle references to H.P. Lovecraft and the Arkham Horror board game worked in there. I appreciated that. There was also a reference to my home city in the Wraith’s biography. You don’t see many shout-outs to Rochester, New York, so that made me happy, too.

Each deck plays differently, but the basic mechanic is that you can play one card per turn, activate one power (such as the one printed on your hero card) and draw one card at the end of your turn. The card interactions for Nightmist’s deck were pretty intricate; I could see right away why she was ranked as one of the more complex heroes to play. My deck involved buffing my damage dealing ability, then using my power to damage myself to draw more cards, then using my amulet card to redirect all the damage I’d done to myself towards an enemy instead. It was pretty fun.

With 18 different hero decks to play (this is including the expansions) and just as many villain decks, there’s a lot of variety here. The decks interact with each other in different ways; as Nightmist, I was able to generate card drawing for my allies which helped out a few times when things got rough.

There are two things that really make this game stand out. The first is that it’s a self-contained set, so unlike collectible card games like Magic: the Gathering, you don’t have to build your own deck which lowers the entry barrier considerably. Secondly, the decks all seem to be built with cooperation in mind, so there’s plenty of interaction among the heroes. It’ll be fun to see which decks work well together against which villains, since each villain deck is designed to play different and offer a different challenge.

We finished the game around 11:00 pm or so. It was at this point that I passed out on the couch, having imbibed just a little too much during the course of the evening. At some point, I staggered into bed.

All in all, it was an excellent weekend, if unintentional. It reminded me fondly of the undergrad days, where we’d play Magic or D&D well into the early hours of the morning. There was a certain abandon then, a certain idyllic sense. Of course, this was just the geek version of partying all night, which is why I didn’t end up going to many parties in college. But I wouldn’t trade it if given the choice.

However, I was very glad that I had today to recover from my weekend gaming binge and I don’t think I’ll be trying to repeat the experience any time soon. Once a week should be enough for me, I think.

At least for a while.

Tabletop Gaming Weekend: Saturday Recap

It wasn’t supposed to turn into this three-day thing, you know? Friday’s gaming was a spontaneous thing, the result of one James Walter and the colorful box he carried to a work meeting and then to dinner right after the meeting. It was just there, you know? We had to try it. I can’t be blamed for that.

Saturday, though. For Saturday, I don’t have the luxury of that excuse, because I was enticed purely by one sentence: “who wants to play Dominant Species?” The answer was me. I do. I want to play this game. This is how day two of the gaming binge got started.


Dominant Species is a strategy board game where you take the role of one of five different groups of animals and try to survive the encroaching Ice Age. It plays similarly to a tabletop war game, except that there’s really no war to speak of beyond this hilariously awesome combination of dropping glaciers on people and competing for resources.

The animals on offer are mammals, reptiles, birds, arachnids, and insects. Each one has a special ability: mammals are highest on the food chain (and thus win ties) and can survive extinction events. Reptiles can resist regression (which otherwise takes away the adaptations you need to survive). Birds can migrate more spaces than other animals. Arachnids have a particularly insidious power: they can preemptively eliminate other animals during Competition; they’re like tiny venomous assassins. Insects go first during each turn and can reproduce like crazy.

This was my second time playing dominant species and both times, I’ve picked the reptiles. They’re not the most powerful species, in my opinion, but I’m loyal to my scaled brethren. The goal of the game is to spread out across the board (which is arranged during play by placing hexagonal tiles to represent new terrain) and accumulate victory points while trying to survive. The various ways you can be eliminated are starvation due to lack of resources or competition, where other animals kill you off.

The real charm of this game comes from the massive amount of strategy. Each turn plays like this: there is a section of the board divided up into phases, with each phase representing a different strategic option. You have a limited number of tokens that you can place in on the phases to pursue those strategies. Some a limited in number: only three people can select the Adaptation, for example. You won’t be able to do everything. Once everybody has placed their tokens, each phase is resolved and you see who lives, who dies, who reproduces, and who runs away to a lonely corner of the map and tries to hold onto “Snake Mountain” for the entire game while everybody else kills each other or gets glaciated.

The glacier mechanic is particularly fun. The game starts with the center hex covered in a glacier. Each turn, whoever is first in line on the  Glaciation phase gets to place a new glacier tile anywhere on the board as long as it touches at least one existing glacier. This glacier kills off all but one animal of each species on the tile and also removes necessary resources from the board. It’s very fun steering the glacier towards your opponents. It’s very frightening when they steer it back towards you.

There’s a lot more strategy that goes into the game and you have to balance a lot in order to win. If you specialize on one resource, you might die off if that resource vanishes. On the other hand, if you engage in too much competition, you might not dominate enough areas to earn points. There’s a lot going on.

The game does have a rather long set-up time and takes a while to play. We didn’t hit the actual endgame by midnight and just ended up calling the game. I think part of this is due to the fact that both games we played, we were learning (we were all new the first game and had one new player the second game). Once you “get it”, things go a lot faster.

It’s a more complex game than King of Tokyo or Cards Against Humanity, but this is a core tabletop experience. A huge board, a lot of pieces, a ton of strategy: this is the kind of game that you’ll come back to again and again. I like how perfectly it captures the feeling of trying to survive as resources go scare, land changes, and then your land is overwhelmed by venomous spiders. The competition mechanic is more passive than other war games, but that makes for a nice change of pace.

It took up my entire Saturday night, but when you get right down to it, a Saturday night playing Dominant Species is a Saturday well spent.

Tabletop Gaming Weekend: Friday Recap

If you came looking for more religious rants or gun control laments, scroll down a bit. This is going to be about something else. I had sort of a “tabletop gaming binge” over the last few days. I hadn’t planned for that to happen, which is probably how all binges are explained after the fact. Anyway, here’s a brief recap on what I played and what I thought about it, broken down by day.

Friday: I played two different games on Friday, one that was a new experience and one that is quickly becoming a classic favorite in my book.


The first game was King of Tokyoa game that can only be one of two things: a Japanese monarchy or a Godzilla-esque game about rampaging monsters fighting each other. I’ll save you time: it was the latter. King of Tokyo played a lot like Zombie Dice, in that you’re trying to roll a handful of dice to get preferred combinations like Attack, Healing, Energy, or Victory Points. The tricky part comes from the game’s battle system: you’re either “in the city” or “outside of the city.” Whichever monster is in the city accumulates points each turn, but is also the target for all the other monsters. It’s like a dice version of ‘King of the Hill.’ The game, not the Mike Judge cartoon.

I had a great time with the game, although I never managed to pull off a win. The mechanic is easy to learn and the monsters are really fun with names like Meka Dragon, Giga Zaur, the Kraken, and others. There are cards you can buy with the energy points to give your monster special powers which also provided more strategic depth.

Each game goes quickly, so you can fit in several rounds inside of an hour. It’s great as a starter board game or something to play between more complex ones, but it doesn’t have the legs to last an entire evening. It’s still a great buy and one that I’ll be adding to my collection when I get the chance.


The second game we played was one that doesn’t need an introduction beyond its own description: it’s the party game for horrible people. Cards Against Humanity is your basic free-association card game in the vein of Apples to Apples. You have the black deck for your prompt, which will be something like “Science is now embracing the healing power of ____” and it’s up to you to fill in the blank with the cards from the white deck, which are all words like Explosions, Assless Chaps, or Apologizing. Whoever played the black card chooses their favorite and the person who played it gets a point. That’s the entire game.

This is the kind of game where you’ll learn a lot about your friends. I’ve been playing it for a while now and I’ve found that figuring out my friends’ respective “humor types” in a sort of Myers-Briggs-esque fashion seems to be the key to victory. Some of the humor types I’ve noticed are dark humor, scatological humor, word humor, and horribly inappropriate humor. I might elaborate on these brilliant insights in a later post.

It should go without saying that this is a game enhanced by alcohol. It’s also a game where you need to leave your inhibitions at the door. If there’s anything, and I mean literally anything that offends you on a deeply personal level, you may wish to consider other games, because there’s nothing off the table here. From Auschwitz to date rape to zoophilia, it’s all out there. Ye be warned.

The game will last as long as your friends do. I’ve found that we never play towards a set limit but rather reach a natural breaking point usually around midnight, which is usually three hours later than I meant to play. That should tell you something about how engrossing this relatively simple game can be.

Cards Against Humanity is a must-have in a gaming collection as long as you don’t mind the horrible, horrible humor. It’s the ultimate flexible party game: it can be played with four people just as easily as fourteen people, which isn’t something a lot of games can do. It also can make you wonder about how screwed up you are as a person, based on the things that you’ll laugh at. I found these revelations to be useful at dispelling any myths I might have had about whether or not I’m a decent person. Turns out, I’m not.

The Last Outpost

On a whim, I decided to watch an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation today. There was no particular reason; I just found myself thinking about it and the fact that I’ve only seen bits and pieces of TNG over the years as a result of watching it on the arbitrary demands of cable television. How did we ever function without instant streaming? How could we follow the complex and nuanced plot development without watching back-to-back-to-back episodes on season DVD binges?

The episode I selected was season 1’s “the Last Outpost.” I think this was the fourth or fifth episode in the series and promised “the introduction of the Ferengi.” Now, I’ve seen enough Star Trek over the years to know about the Ferengi. I know Quark, even if Deep Space Nine was my least favorite series of the three that I watched primarily (TNG, DS9, and Voyager, although now Voyager would probably be more annoying to me). I thought I knew what to expect about the Ferengi.

Except, not really. I didn’t realize (or else had forgotten) that they were intended to be an antagonistic race, like the Klingons or the Romulans. This blew my mind to a group described as “18th century Yankee traders” were intended by the writers to be a major antagonist. Was the original plot of the social meant to be an allegorical battle between communism and capitalism? Actually, it probably was, now that I think about it.

Also, it seems that that standards for writing dialogue in 1987 for television shows were a lot lower. This can only mean that pop culture and the Internet have made us all smarter. There can be no other possible interpretation of this single piece of anecdotal data.

I was very surprised to see that the Ferengi were meant to be scary. I mean, they did have the sharp teeth, which always seemed to be a little weird for a comedic character in the later shows, but really? That’s your effort at a space monster? I really want to know the “behind the scenes” reasoning for this; it’s not like this episode was made befoer we knew how to make scary aliens. We’re already in a post-xenomorph world in 1987, we knew how to make scary aliens.

Okay, maybe the xenomorph was a little too scary for a television show, but still. There’s a middle ground between the most nightmarish avatar of destruction and sexual imagery ever imagined and a race of stunted, vaguely goblin things that bounce around too much, wave their hands around for seemingly no reason, and have all the terror factor of . . . actually, I can’t think of anything less scary. I was going to say the flying monkeys from The Wizard of Oz, but honestly, those were pretty creepy when I was a kid.

It was an interesting little experience. I might pick out more episodes and random and see what it’s like. I suppose I could watch all seven seasons (they’re on Netflix, after all), but honestly, I think that would probably take me the better part of a few years. We’ll see how it goes.

Thoughts On Yesterday

For the moment, there’s nothing else of substance to be said about the gun control battle. The lines have been drawn in the sand; the first blows have been exchanged. Our side lost this round, but there will be others. The overwhelmingly sad fact is that as long as things remain as they are, we’re never going to run out of tragedies that will add fuel to the fire of this debate. That’s not the same thing as hoping for more violence. Rather, it is the sad realization that until something changes, this is how things are going to be until we finally have enough people saying, “we tried it your way. Now let’s try it ours.

For now, though, all the good zings have been zung. In my opinion, Gabby Gifford’s scathing editorial was the most poignant. I tried to find an editorial from the gun rights side of things; the best I could do was John Cornyn’s criticism of President Obama’s speech yesterday. Hardly a fair comparison, I admit, but then, this wasn’t exactly a fair fight.

I did look at a few conservative news sites to see what else might be out there, but the first article on the Drudge Report was NRA: “Obama  ‘bit off more than he could chew, an article so vile and callous that I wouldn’t dare choose this to be the representation of the other side. It’s too fucking cruel. My first thought was that it was actually just very cold satire and part of me still hopes that’s the case.

So the other side gets Cornyn to sum up the day, because while he may not be the most eloquent representation, at least he doesn’t come across having been spawned in the darkest depths of some writhing abyss. Banality or pure evil; those seem to be the choices here.

Meanwhile, In The Senate

Like I said in my previous post, today was a good day to be a gun in America. The reactions from most decently minded citizens was one of disbelief more than anything:

Kirsten Gillibrand : W/90% support, it’s absurd that we were unable to summon the political will to pass universal background checks. The Senate truly is broken.

There was also the reaction from those watching from the Senate gallery:

Among those looking on from the gallery, Lori Haas, whose daughter was shot at Virginia Tech, and Patricia Maisch, a survivor of the mass shooting in Tucson, shouted, “Shame on you.” Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who presided over the votes, then asked for decorum.

The urge to give into cynicism is strong right now. The system seems broken, doesn’t it? It feels broken. It seems like playing by the rules is the best way to lose. It seems that a small but hysterically loud minority has been allowed to have the run of the country, simply because it’s the loudest and shrillest voice in the room. Is there anything left to do, but wait for the current crop of conservatives to succumb to old age and hope that the playing field is more fair the next time around?

I say no. Never give into despair. Everyone except Fox News agrees that the conservative leadership in this country is on the verge of collapse unless it reforms. These are the last gasps of a desperate minority struggling to hold onto their power. For them, the stakes are high enough to go beyond the point of reason. There is no incentive to play fair at this point.

I do not believe that this will stand forever. With each blatant defiance of the public will, the tide turns against them more. Each action that these NRA-owned senators take that prioritizes the gun lobby over the will of the people will reveal them for what they are: sycophants of special interests.

Amid those voices protesting is Tucson’s own Gabby Giffords, who needs no introduction, calling for resolve in the face of despair:

Former Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was severely injured in the Tucson shooting, wrote in a Twitter message: “Senate ignored will of the people & rejected background checks. Im not giving up. Constituents will know they obeyed gun lobby and not them.”

To the question of what can we do now in the face of this latest defeat, Giffords had this to say:

Over two years ago, when I was shot point-blank in the head, the U.S. Senate chose to do nothing. Four months ago, 20 first-graders lost their lives in a brutal attack on their school, and the U.S. Senate chose to do nothing. It’s clear to me that if members of the U.S. Senate refuse to change the laws to reduce gun violence, then we need to change the members of the U.S. Senate. 

If this is how these senators wish to govern, I argue that they are no longer deserving of the responsibility. I don’t think I’m alone in holding this opinion:

“I was extremely disappointed,” said retired Col. Bill Badger, one of the people who tackled Jared Lee Loughner in Tucson. “When 90 percent of the people want something, and the senator votes against them, the next election, we’re going to take care of those senators, because they’re not representing the people.”

No matter how it shakes down, at the end of the day, you cannot ignore the will of the people like this. The political will to carry on the fight is still there and this particular fight is not over. There are too many people now who care too deeply about this to let the gun lobby bury this cause, as has been done so many times in the past. Maybe it’s time to consider reforming the filibuster. Maybe it’s time to consider the so-called “nuclear option.”

To those Republicans (and the small handful of Democrats) who bowed to the pressure brought on by the gun lobby, remember that it was the people who gave you those Senate seats.

The people can just as easily take them away.

Arizona: A Great Place To Be A Gun

The news today was great if you’re a gun. Or if you’re a person who makes and sells guns. Or if you – well, you get the point. Let’s talk about Arizona’s Gun Buyback program first.

The plan was to try and get some unwanted guns out of people’s homes with the guarantee that those guns wouldn’t end up in the hands of those who might do harm. Not an unreasonable concern, considering how easy it is to acquire a firearm without a background check of any kind. It was going to be a drop in the bucket anyway compared to the number of guns still out there, but you never know; one less gun could mean the difference to at least one person. It was, you might say, a symbolic action in the same vein as Bisbee’s proposed civil union law.

And like Bisbee’s symbolic civil union law, the gun buyback program has been blocked. Well, not blocked exactly, but gutted all the same. You can still turn your unwanted gun in. However, the city or county now must take that gun and sell it to a federally licensed dealer instead of destroying it as was intended. Guns seized by police already have to be sold in this fashion, per Arizona law, which means that, as Bob Christie notes in his article, “the gun used to shoot U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords might end up back on the street.” Great law, that.

Here’s the thing that really brings my blood to a boil:

It’s not about protecting Second Amendment rights, it’s about protecting the taxpayers,” said Sen. Rick Murphy, R-Peoria. He also argued that the state doesn’t require the destruction of cars involved in fatal accidents, so requiring guns to be destroyed is simply a feel-good measure that protects no one.

Bull. Fucking. Shit.

Look, I get the fact that as a Republican, you have to bow to the almighty power of the gun lobby, but at least be fucking honest about it. Stand up and cop to it; you’re opposing this because the NRA demands that you oppose everything that even has the faintest springtime scent of gun control. Admit that this is what you’re doing, because it’s agonizingly obvious to the rest of us that this is what you’re doing.

Furthermore, the argument Rep. Murphy uses to justify his bullshit rhetoric is that we don’t require the destruction of cars in fatal automobile accidents. This ignores the fact that in many instances, a collision severe enough to kill a person is usually enough to destroy the vehicle involved. So, you know, you have that working against your claim. Furthermore, you’re not even addressing the same fucking issue! This isn’t even about the law requiring the state to sell seized guns. This was about a program designed to take some guns off the street and keep them from circulating.

Democrats argued that Republicans complain about the federal government when it requires the state to take action, yet they’re quick to force local governments to do what they want. “We hate it when the federal government mandates it to the state, and we’re doing the same thing,” said Sen. Lynne Pancrazi, D-Yuma.

How the hell anybody can argue that the Republican party is the party of small government is beyond me at this point. This is not the action of a small government philosophy! These are the blatant actions of a party that has capitulated to its most powerful lobbying group because to do otherwise would mean the effective end of the party as a political entity.

I get why they’re doing it. I guess at this point, I’d just appreciate a little bit of honesty as they do it.