Unhelpful Pedantry in discourse

Disclaimer: I teach math (and occasionally do math) for a living. I understand the necessity of precise language in certain situations. When it comes to, say, a mathematical theorem, meeting the hypothesis matters!

But when it comes to discussing the issues of the day, being inappropriately pedantic gets in the way.

One big example is the issue of “assault guns” in the hands of civilians. Sometimes, hard core 2’nd Amendment supporters chide liberal gun control advocates for “not knowing what an assault weapon is” or even claiming that “assault weapon” is a meaningless term.

Let’s be clear: though most who have a strong opinion on this issue is NOT a firearms expert, what is meant here is a weapon that

  1. Fires a military grade round at a military grade muzzle velocity
  2. Has a magazine that can hold multiple rounds
  3. Can fire multiple shots very quickly (not automatically) without jamming
  4. Is semiautomatic (self loading, though the trigger has to be pressed for each shot)

And yes, I know; the better known weapons (AR-15, AK-47) are examples of this kind of weapon, but are far from the only kinds out there.

They gun people know these things; one survivalist put it this way: (paraphrasing as I lost track of the book): if you have supplies like food and water, others might try to take them from you. What do you defend yourself with? Using a sporting rifle against well armed intruders is just noisy suicide.
(not my thoughts, but I cannot find the reference)

Well, the rifle that you’d want in such extreme conditions (that you can legally obtain sans a lot of extra hoops to jump through) is what we’d call an “assault rifle.”

People like me do not believe that civilians should have possession of weapons which are military caliber weapons without the automatic setting. These are for killing people effectively (or causing horrific wounds).

Jerry Coyne’s blog has a nice post on this topic.

Note: this issue is one where we have to start from where we are (our country has a LOT of these type of weapons) and we are very divided. I don’t see how a ban could work. And if you think that we have any prayer of repealing the Second Amendment, you are delusional :

Sure..we can’t even get 50 Senate votes…LOL.

I hesitate to point out that it isn’t just the conservatives that are guilty of this.

Think of Critical Race Theory and K-12 education. Technically, CRT is really a law school caliber theory to help lawyers and judges apply the law more fairly. So, no, you aren’t getting CRT in grade school.

But that is NOT what is meant when parents complain about CRT.

As Yascha Mounk writes:

The idea that critical race theory is an academic concept that is taught only at colleges or law schools might be technically accurate, but the reality on the ground is a good deal more complicated. Few middle or high schoolers are poring over academic articles written by Richard Delgado or Kimberlé Crenshaw. But across the nation, many teachers have, over the past years, begun to adopt a pedagogical program that owes its inspiration to ideas that are very fashionable on the academic left, and that go well beyond telling students about America’s copious historical sins.

In some elementary and middle schools, students are now being asked to place themselves on a scale of privilege based on such attributes as their skin color. History lessons in some high schools teach that racism is not just a persistent reality but the defining feature of America. And some school systems have even embraced ideas that spread pernicious prejudices about nonwhite people, as when a presentation to principals of New York City public schools denounced virtues such as “perfectionism” or the “worship of the written word” as elements of “white-supremacy culture.”

And parents ARE concerned and have a right to be. In my own state, a school received attention because it decided to stop “giving 0’s in the gradebook” for work not turned in because they felt that such a standard is unfair to minority students. (Note: the article I linked to has a very misleading headline: there are NOT race based standards; the standard would apply to all students in said school).

I am old enough to remember the segregation/integration wars, and I remember one argument that segregationists used was that integration would lead to an erosion of standards.

I am NOT saying that the liberal wokes are the same as the racists; they are NOT. But some of their policy prescriptions sure reminds me of stuff the racists used to say (disclaimer: I am Latino and I am sensitive to accusations that whatever success I have had was due to my meeting a lower standard).

My point: dismissing the concerns of parents by saying “LOL..your kid isn’t learning CRT” is to miss the point. It hurts dialogue and..on a political level, hurts Democrats.

Bonus topic

Yes, I’ve frequently been more critical of Democrats than Republicans for the following reason: I’ve voted Democrats for years. The current Republicans are the party of COVID denial..the party of taking deworm medicine for COVID..the party of climate change denial..the party of eroding voting rights. I want nothing to do with modern Republicans; there are no Romney/Bush/Rockerfeller/McCain types that I’d consider voting for (at the national level)

They are the party of this type of insanity:

So, I want Democrats to win, even if I can’t stand some of the social stuff they do. But my goodness, too many Democrats campaign as if they are trying to win over NPR listeners, college professors and Unitarians.

Some thoughts on this topic: Bill Maher asks Democrats to dial back on appealing to our extreme factions:

More along these line…


I admit that I’ve spent way too much time watching videos like this one:

And this is what it appears to be: spondylolisthesis leading to a L5-S1 nerve root impingement (moderate; mild ones higher up). The signs are there, including my getting relief with a forward bend (and back bend too..go figure).

What makes it tingle: walks over a mile (with warm up) or over 1/2 mile w/o warm up, my PT exercises, improper weight exercises (now deleted or modified), excessive sitting, excessive laying down, going DOWN stairs.

What makes it feel better: moderate motion, standing (to a point) Light bends, some light yoga poses, super light deadlifts (just enough weight to give me a good stretch), very short, reasonably quick paced walks.

Today: PT (a LOT of it), short walk at 14:00 mpm, 1650 yard swim.

The swim:

600 of 50 side, 50 either back or breast

200 of 25 front kick, 25 free

500 in 9:44 (4:50/4:54). Not painful but well, damn..very slow. Swam next to Mike.

100 back

250 kick drills with fins.

weight: 204.5