Writer, book reviewer, childfree feminist gadfly. As my blogline says, whatever floats your boat.
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245 days ago
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It Is Hillary Clinton's Destiny to Defeat Donald Trump

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The modern, extremist right was pretty much invented in opposition to her (and her husband). Now it's up to her (alone) to stop it.

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2995 days ago
This is a gorgeous piece of writing.
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A real solution to the deprecated YouTube API

17 Comments and 32 Shares

YouTube, owned by Google, deprecated their v2 APIs on April 20th, 2015, which means that RSS news readers can no longer watch for new videos. What a bummer!

Except it’s not at all a big deal because here at NewsBlur we’re making sure that your videos keep coming in. Previously enterprising users setup hacks and workarounds for the API, which was a somewhat tedious solution as you had to update each feed and prone to breaking in the future.

But there’s good news today because NewsBlur now has a custom-built solution for YouTube videos. All of your existing YouTube RSS feeds are automatically ported over to the new YouTube video fetcher.

And that’s not all. The improved YouTube video fetcher now displays a big embedded video so you can watch the video right in NewsBlur.

To subscribe to new YouTube channels, just enter in the URL of the channel in the Add Site popover.

When Google takes away your tools, NewsBlur builds them better than before.

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3369 days ago
How cool! Thank you Samuel.
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14 public comments
3366 days ago
Epiphyte City
3368 days ago
...And this is why I'm subscribed since basically the beginning :D
Rodos, Greece
3368 days ago
3368 days ago
3369 days ago
Ya same here. Very cool
3369 days ago
I don't even subscribe to YouTube videos in NewsBlur, but I'm going to now, just because Samuel's so awesome.
3368 days ago
Ditto! I had no idea this was even a thing.. subscribing immediately!
3368 days ago
I subscribe to several, and thought I'd have to delete them all. Now they're not only usable again, they're an improved experience. Down with Google, up with NewsBlur!
3361 days ago
I subscrib
3359 days ago
test reply
3369 days ago
You win Newsblur
3369 days ago
3369 days ago
InoReader had it before. :p

No, seriously, one more reason to love NewsBlur. Good job!
3369 days ago
Newsblur: The killer app for YouTube, apparently.
San Francisco, CA
3369 days ago
"When Google takes away your tools, NewsBlur builds them better than before."

Thanks for considering US the customers and not random ad-buying robots.
Louisville, KY
3369 days ago
Now that's how you solve all the things.
3369 days ago
That's awesome.
3369 days ago

Bigger story previews with the new Grid view


There are currently three ways to read stories on NewsBlur:

  • List view: every story is a single line and read inline
  • Split view: two panes of stories, one for story titles and the other for story content
  • Full view: every story is fully expanded and ready for reading

Each of these views has its own benefits and drawbacks, and each of these views can be further customized. The Split view, for instance, can place story titles on top, below, or to the left of the story content. The Full view can auto-truncate stories so that you only see a couple paragraphs at a time so long stories don’t overwhelm you.

Today I’m launching a new view: the Grid view.

The Grid view is half-way between the Full view and the List view. It provides big previews of the images from a story as well as several lines of content. It’s not as overwhelming as the Full view and it doesn’t force every story on a single line.

You can also customize the Grid view to only show as many stories per line as you like.

Choose between 1, 2, 3, or 4 stories per line, or stick with automatically scaling the number of stories based on how wide your browser is.

The Grid view is perfect for sites and folders that contain a lot of images. And because you can now preview a larger part of the story, it makes sense to add a new preference that allows you to mark stories as read as you scroll without having to open up the story.

However, the Grid view is not perfect for all feeds. That’s why I’m introducing another big change today. The four views are now saved on a per-feed and per-folder basis. You can choose a default layout in Preferences, but each feed/folder overrides that preference.

This can become a bit complicated if you have a lot of overrides and want to instead just reset all of your layouts. So you can now reset both layouts and views for all feeds and folders right from the Preferences dialog.

I hope you enjoy this new story layout. And as always, tell your friends about NewsBlur. World of mouth is killer and it’s how NewsBlur is able to be a success.

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3416 days ago
This is absolutely cool. Thank you, Samuel.
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3 public comments
3416 days ago
Grid view is great. Newsblur keeps killing it.
Williamstown, MA
3417 days ago
On the one hand, this is an excellent feature that makes skimming a feed visually very easy.

On the other hand, I now have 84 tabs open. Probably not best used with the "All Site Stories" view...
London, United Kingdom
3417 days ago
An excellent reader just got even better. We're going to run out of superlatives to describe it, soon.

Bang Bang Crazy, Part 9

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And here we are yet again.

Another nut with a gun and grudge.

And the enraged monkeys emerge from the trees to shriek and fling fistfuls of their own fecal matter at each other.

Guns! Guns! one side wails, More Guns!

Mental Illness! Mental Illness! screeches the other.

The field that separates the two warring camps is full of the wounded and the maimed and the dead, their bodies decorated in blood and steaming monkey dung. It is a gulf devoid of both reason and sanity.

I really hate to say, see? I told you so. But, here we are, déjà vu all over again.

Only this time there’s a variation on the theme I wrote about in The Seven Stages of Gun Violence. Given that this is the third shooting on a military base in recent memory (shootings on military bases are nothing particularly new, it’s just that all of a sudden it’s fashionable to act like you actually give a shit), the new argument being hurled back and forth like warm monkey turds is whether or not military personal should be allowed to carry loaded weapons on base – and not just loaded weapons, but concealed weapons under their uniforms – so that they may shoot down their fellows should it become necessary.

Given the law of unintended consequences, I do have to wonder what the military will look like after a few years of institutional paranoia, of soldiers regarding each other as potentially a potentially unstable murderous lunatics, sleeping with one eye open and ready at any moment to gun each other down. Morale, esprit de corps, trust, respect, too bad those things can’t be measured quantitatively in empirical values, because I’d love to see a trend graph after a few years of armed fear in the ranks – coupled to a post-war drawdown and reduction in funding. 1975, here we come.

I wasn’t going to write about this, not here, not in detail, not again.

I updated and reposted the previously mentioned Seven Stages of Gun Violence and I figured that was enough. Frankly I’m sick of this, sick of the bloodshed, sick of the carnage, sick of the apathy, sick of the insanity we continue to inflict upon on ourselves like the shrieking chattering primates we are.

But between social media and online searches for gun control and gun violence and military shootings, which inevitably led people to the previous articles I’ve written in this series, folks started to show up on Stonekettle Station. And thus, as always when I won’t let the raging baboons post comments here, I get email.

Most of it is pretty obnoxious.

I looked at the the common theme of the hatemail, and then I proposed a simple scenario for my audience on Facebook. Something to spark conversation and an exploration of the issue.

I suppose I should have known better, I’ve been doing this long enough, but I’m nothing if not a tilter at windmills.

The folks that are allowed to comment on my Facebook wall are a pretty reasonable bunch, probably because I ruthlessly weed out the dullards who can’t behave like civilized human beings. But, see, that simple post was shared far and wide, and some of the resulting comments were … well, hang on to that thought and we’ll come back to those comments in a minute.

First, the bit I posted on Facebook:

I'm getting email, to wit:

Military personnel are well trained in firearms. They should be required to carry their weapon at all times on base, locked and loaded. In a case like the Fort Hood shooting(s), or the Navy Yard shooting, or the Norfolk shooting, they could respond immediately to defend themselves. You're a faggy America-hating Nazi if you don't agree.

Ok. Fair enough.

How about this: You're a military policeman. The alarm goes off: active shooter in the vicinity of the Troop Medical Campus, shots fired, people down, number and identity of gunman/gunmen unknown, location of the active shooter or shooters unknown possibly moving through the buildings killing randomly, possibly in the parking lot, possibly in the lobby of the main hospital building, possibly in the VA reception area - the situation is unclear, there are multiple reports and descriptions of the shooter, all different, all confused. You just know there's at least one shooter somewhere in the medical campus. You and your fellow cops respond. You arrive. You have no idea what you're getting into. You jump out of your cruiser, weapon drawn, safety off. There are soldiers and civilians down in front of the building. It's like a Quentin Tarantino movie. Blood. Smoke. Screams. The staccato crack of continuous gunfire echoes off the buildings so that you can't even tell where it's coming from - the classic problem of urban warfare. Chaos. Restricted line of sight. Panicked non-combatants. Armed military personnel have engaged the (possible) shooter, there is a three-way firefight going on. You see dozens of men and women in uniform crouched behind cover exchanging fire with other men and women in uniform crouched behind cover returning fire. They all look exactly the same.

Now, you have to do something, right now. It’s your job. You raise your weapon and step forward...

Just one thing, one little thing before you pull the trigger: Which one is the bad guy?

Or perhaps bad guys, plural? Come now, it's easy, after all you're an expert, right? Quick, which one is the bad guy? This isn't a video game. This is the real thing. Choose wrong, you die, other people keep dying. Choose wrong, you kill the men and women you're supposed to be protecting and then you can live with that for the rest of your life, if you live. Better hurry up, you've got a fraction of second, and here comes the rest of the cavalry with their guns out and the same choice to make and how do you know the shooter isn't one of them? This is what you wanted, everybody armed, everybody shooting, so come on, Hero, which soldier do you kill first?


I spent most of my adult life in uniform under arms. I'm a trained and certified firearms instructor. I'm a trained and certified force protection officer. Now, as a civilian, I do consulting on a military base. You don't have to listen to me, but ask yourself something: if arming military personnel on post is such a great idea, why then haven't those experienced, trained, and knowledgeable soldiers in command positions joined your side? Why aren't the NCOs and the Colonels and the Admirals and the Generals demanding en mass weapons free on base?

What do they know that you don't?

You're entitled to your opinion, but you REALLY don't understand the situation at all.

It was a simple thought problem.

There are many ways a scenario like this could play out. Multiple shooters. Shooter already dead and nobody realizes it, either by his own hand or as a result of direct fire. it. Shooter hides among the the victims and waits quietly for law enforcement. Or maybe there never was a shooter at all and it was all a terrible mistake triggered by something stupid – say like a soldier fumbling his weapon and causing an accidental discharge which is then perceived by other stressed out combat vets as an active threat.

The idea here was to start a conversation among my Facebook following, because that’s what I do there (yes, that’s correct, not everything on Facebook is about cats and duckfaced girls). And that’s what happened. And that continues to be an interesting, adult, and reasoned exchange. But many folks shared my post, and the comments under those shares provided proved the impetus for this essay.

Let’s start with this comment from a guy whose force protection and military expertise, according to his Facebook page, appears to consist mostly of really liking Transformer movies:

I think Jim is being a little bit of a bitch about this. The police and soldiers (especially now that urban combat is common place) have been trained for these situations. It's relatively easy for them to identify who the aggressor is. With civilians on base, the reason why soldiers aren't armed is the same reason banks don't have security guards... insurance. You are liable if there is a death on your premises, and the chances of someone getting killed goes up dramatically if there are armed guards. The real question is, how do people keep getting on these bases with firearms? Can the military not afford metal detectors (or are they still looking for a vendor who will overcharge them by 10000%)?

I think Jim is being a little bit of a bitch about this. I’m not really sure what this means other than he doesn’t like what I wrote, so that makes me a bitch. Says the grown man who posts pictures of comic book action figures on his Facebook page.

The police and soldiers (especially now that urban combat is common place) have been trained for these situations. It's relatively easy for them to identify who the aggressor is. Right, the bad guy looks like a giant metal robot made out of car parts, sure. Meanwhile, outside of kiddie movies, it’s often a whole lot different. Remember the first Fort Hood shooting? In the first minute, how many shooters were there? No, don’t roll your eyes, answer the question, how many? Don’t know? The answer is three. In the chaos and confusion, responders at first thought there were three shooters. Besides Major Nidal Malik Hasan, two other soldiers were identified by military personnel as being involved. Those men were detained and interrogated. It didn’t take investigators very long to figure out the other men had nothing to do with Hasan’s murderous rampage, but what if the soldiers who initially thought they did were armed and prepared to take action? In that confusion, in that moment when people are dying and you just don’t know, in that moment, those two innocent men could easily have become targets for their fellows.

Now, how many shooters were initially reported when Aaron Alexis pulled out a shotgun and started killing people inside the NAVSEA building at the Washington Navy Yard?

The first minutes minute of any attack are confused and unclear and can easily result in friendly fire. In fact, certain military and terrorist tactics are designed specifically with this in mind, induce maximum confusion, get friendly forces to engage each other. I know, part of my job in the military was designing warfighting doctrine and tactics exactly like this. Hell, blue on blue engagements happen in battle on a far too frequent basis, even when the enemy isn’t actively trying to make that happen, even when soldiers are trained to look out for it. You don’t have to believe me, you can go ask Pat Tillman’s family about it. But I guess they don’t teach that at Comic Book University.

There is an enormous difference between a law enforcement situation and unrestricted combat in the warzone. That’s why the training is very, very different for each type of operation. That’s why the rules of engagement are different. Hell, that’s one of the reasons soldiers and Marines often regard occupation and peacekeeping duty as far worse than actual combat. I’ve been professionally trained in both operations, but don’t take my word for it – ask any cop who used to be a soldier. There are plenty of them around.

That said, my critic fails to specify exactly how (short of the bad guy actually being a giant robot made from car parts) part) other soldiers and military police would know who’s who in this scenario, given that they’re all dressed the same and all shooting. And given that in the real world, when it really happened, witnesses actually did, in point of fact, misidentify innocent soldiers as shooters. Instead, the critic waves his hand and claims that it’s “relatively easy.” You know, like when you’re a cop running into a school full of panicked children and you have to figure out which child is killing the other ones in the middle of a crowd – but yeah, it’s relatively easy and cops don’t lay awake at night sweating this exact situation.

With civilians on base, the reason why soldiers aren't armed is the same reason banks don't have security guards... insurance.You are liable if there is a death on your premises … Say what now? Talk about the fallacy of false equivalence.

Banks generally don’t have armed guards nowadays because a) they’ve gotten a lot better at passive and active security systems, and b) because armed guards pretty much guarantee the robbers will come through the door shooting. There’s a significant reduction in loss of life if the bank personnel don’t attempt to engage the criminals in a shoot out – and, really, what does this do for the critic’s position of arming everybody? Frankly, he seems to be the kind of guy who tends to shoot himself in the foot, at least figuratively.

That said, a bank robbery and an active shooter are two completely different threats. Totally different tactical problems in law enforcement. You can’t compare the two, primarily because the goals of the perpetrators are completely different. And we don’t restrict the free carry of weapons on base because the government is worried about liability. Weapons are restricted for many reasons, from accountability for expensive and deadly government property to concern over accidental or deliberate shootings and everything in between.

The real question is, how do people keep getting on these bases with firearms? Can the military not afford metal detectors (or are they still looking for a vendor who will overcharge them by 10000%)?

Sixty to eighty thousand people enter and leave Fort Foot Hood every day. Sixty to eighty thousand. Twenty to thirty thousand enter and leave San Diego Naval Station, every day. Twenty-five thousand active duty military and civilian personnel come and go from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, every day, thirty thousand military family members access that same base on a daily basis, more than one hundred thousand veterans use the base hospital, commissary, and military exchange monthly. Here in Alaska, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson supports similar numbers. A quarter of million people work or live on the various bases in and surrounding Norfolk.

So, what exactly are you going to do? Metal detectors, pat downs, and car searches every day? At every base? Really? You’re going to provide that kind of manpower, that kind of equipment? Because we do that, you know. It’s called Threat Condition Delta, and everybody coming onto base gets thoroughly inspected. Want to guess how long it takes to pat down every person and inspect every vehicle on a base like Fort Hood? Even if you restrict access to only essential personnel, you’re still looking at scanning 40,000 people – all at the same time, because they all show up for work at the same time. Which is why we only do it when we have a credible threat, because otherwise it’s impossible to do business.

As I said, this guy just doesn’t understand the problem. But, hey, tell you what, maybe if we got ourselves some magic robots from outer space…

So, who’s the bitch now?

Yes, I know, but I just couldn’t help it.

Moving on, another person opined:

It's not a problem to know who the bad guys is- the one shooting people.In Israel, every 18 years old carries a rifle everywhere (both in the army and when they go home every weekend). It does make for a much safer environment. If a Palestinian terrorist starts shooting innocent civilians, then you know for sure that someone will take him down very fast. That's why most of the terrorist acts in Israel end immediately after they start with far less casualties than other places (like the Norway massacre). You don't need to wait for MPs - that's the whole point. The other soldiers would have taken him down as soon as he started shooting - cause they had GUNS. In fact, one of the routine practice drills is to simulate a Palestinian in Israeli military uniform infiltrating the base and then starts shooting everyone. It is basic training.

The commenter is moving the goal posts.

It's not a problem to know who the bad guys is- the one shooting people. [sic]

Unless he’s not shooting people when you happen to look in his direction.

Unless random good guys are also shooting – which was the whole point of my original comment.

Unless there’s more than one shooter.

Unless the shooter knows your tactics, because he’s one of you, and he takes deliberate measures measure to hide among the victims or mask his actions or otherwise evade, conceal, confuse, and/or escape.

In Israel, every 18 years old carries a rifle everywhere (both in the army and when they go home every weekend). It does make for a much safer environment.

Right, no terrorism or random shooting in Israel.

If a Palestinian terrorist starts shooting innocent civilians, then you know for sure that someone will take him down very fast. That's why most of the terrorist acts in Israel end immediately after they start with far less casualties than other places

Ah, and there we are, the fallacy of false comparison. Palestinian terrorists, i.e. the enemy. Not quite the same thing as an active shooter who is one of your own troops.

And speaking of logical fallacies, I think we need a new one: the “Bu Bu But that’s how they do it in Israel” fallacy.

Oh, yes let us handle gun ownership the way the Israelis do. Let us indeed. You bet.

You can start by chucking out the 2nd Amendment, or rather you can start by actually enforcing the 2nd Amendment. The whole thing, especially that part about a “well regulated militia.” Gun ownership in Israel isn’t a right, it’s a duty enforced by law. You own guns in Israel because you’re required to help defend the state, not just you and yours. I can’t wait to see you implement that in America. And you don’t just run out and buy yourself an AR-15 and start patrolling the streets. It starts with universal conscription, in high school. Every single person will be required by law to undergo training and background checks before they are allowed to touch a gun, along with periodic refresher training and civil defense drills. Did I mention universal registration, both for your weapons and for you? Yeah, see, you were given that gun by the government for a reason, because if you’re not in uniform, once you’ve completed your active duty obligation, you’re still part of the civil defense force and that means the government keeps a record of your training and guns. And you can just forget about gun stores and gun shows and all of the rest of the American gun porn. And then let’s talk about the penalties for irresponsible gun use.

I’ve been there, it’s an ok place, pretty girls, intelligent educated folks, great food – best olives I’ve ever had. The beer is pretty good. Heat. Sand. And religion leaking out of every crack. Government of loons. Sure, it’s a dandy place, if you like living in an armed camp in the middle of a war zone. If you like tanks in the streets and armed soldiers on every corner and machine guns on the playground. If you like looking over your shoulder all of the time. If you like government surveillance and pervasive military security that would make Edward Snowden hyperventilate himself into a stroke. stoke. Sure, you bet. Let’s do that. I think it’s a great idea, you go first, Conservatives, the rest of us will be right behind you.

Let me be blunt, screw Israel.

You want to go live there, be my guest. I’ll help you pack. But I will bet you whatever sum of money you like, that should you actually try to impose the actual kind of universal gun carry they have in Israel, the very first people who would start screaming fascism! Nazis! would be the NRA and the Tea Party and those advocating right now for arming troops on base.

Here’s another one:

That article seems a bit disingenuous. The MP's wouldn't have to worry about who was the bad guy because there would be no more shots after the BG was taken out. The good guy would be more than happy to lay down his gun when they arrived and explain the situation later.

It wasn’t an article, it was a couple of lines on Facebook, but, hey, why spoil a thing with facts, eh?

The MP's wouldn't have to worry about who was the bad guy because there would be no more shots after the BG was taken out

Right, it’ll go down just like that. Every time.

The good guy would be more than happy to lay down his gun when they arrived and explain the situation later.

You have to admire this guy’s optimism. But then again, he lives in a magic world of rainbows and flying bunnies where the good guys wear white hats and the bad guys look like Boris and Natasha from Rocky & Bullwinkle.

oh and the answer on who to shoot would be everyone not face down after the command cease fire and surrender your weapon is given. after all You make a strong argument but you don't explain why a nut was allowed to run around shooting people on a military base. Was he supposed to be armed and it not why was he permitted to do this? These people definitely deserve to be better protected or to protected themselves.one guy with a gun can be over powered by soldiers that are already signed up to get shot at.... maybe Marines are different...

Marines are different alright, I don’t think anybody would argue that.

Because in the middle of a shootout, Marines will just lay down, cease fire, and surrender their weapons, right?

Because it’s always so neat and tidy, right? Shooter on one side, Marines on the other, clearly delineated. Cops show up, Marines meekly surrender their weapons, bad guy is left standing in the middle of the playing field holding his gun in one hand and his dick in the other. Because that’s how it’ll go down, right?

The writer is being disingenuous. I mean we can all make no win situations to try and justify things. I mean what if the shooter is in an MP uniform...... Oh no now we need to restrict weapons to only certain MP's.... What if it happens at a rifle range? Oh no lets restrict the military from doing live fire!

Yeah, that’s what I said.

And what’s with “disingenuous.” Is that the Facebook word of the day?

It’s always the same with these people, hysterical all or nothing, the fallacy of the false dilemma. What? You don’t think arming every soldier on base with live weapons all of the time is a good idea? Why, then you must mean no soldier can ever use a weapon ever!

You can’t reason with these people because they are not reasonable people.

Also, I don’t think “disingenuous” means what this guy thinks it means.

I posted a scenario, one based on my own training and experience, and I asked my readers – whom I know to be generally a reasonably intelligent bunch, but most have little experience in this sort of thing – to consider it as a thought problem, something to think about as the start of a conversation on the topic. I didn’t say that was the only way things would happen. I didn’t even imply it. There’s nothing disingenuous about it.

When I went through Anti-terrorism training as an intelligence officer, we were given a number of scenarios to consider. Mine was an attack on the Hoover Dam via a large scale explosive concealed in a semi-trailer (this was when US93 Interstate 93 actually ran across the top of the dam, before the new bridge was completed). Did that make my instructors “disingenuous” because they gave me that scenario? Were they implying that the only terrorist attack would involve a truck full of fertilizer? Or was it a something to think about in the larger conversation? And was it “disingenuous” of them to assume I was smart enough to figure all that out without having to have it explicitly explained, you know, like normal people?

Also, since the commenter missed it, a hell of a lot of active shooter and terrorist situations are no win scenarios. Ask the guys who might have to shoot down a jetliner full of innocent civilians in order to prevent a larger tragedy about that sometime.

Okay, but could it happen? Could it? Sure, it could happen. Just like yesterday at Fort Hood, a soldier goes bugshit. Or like the time before he pulls out a gun, screams Allah Akbar and starts killing people. And another soldier, armed and alert for danger and ready to rock and roll on a second's notice, shoots him down. Bang! Threat ended. Sure. It could certainly happen that way.

What’s more likely? This last scenario, or the first one I floated up above? Or something in the middle?

Beats me. There’s no way to tell until it happens, and it never happens the same way twice.

What is likely, however, is that when the shooter screams out his war cry and starts blazing away, what you get - even among experienced and prepared troops - is panic and confusion and chaos (also, not everybody is a troop, some of them are civilians, maybe even kids depending on where on base you are). Now you've got a crowd of screaming people, many armed and with their weapons out, which one is the shooter? And we’re back to where we started.

And just for completeness sake, what weapons are we talking about here? Most soldiers don't carry pistols, they carry rifles or more likely nowadays an automatic carbine with burst capability and a VERY high muzzle velocity. Wait 'till somebody starts blazing away in the middle of the crowd with one of those.

And if you’re going to advocate every soldier carry a loaded gun on post, how do bus, how to you feel about mandating that mandated they all just wear ballistic armor all of the time instead? Hey, I’m just asking.

And then there’s the other side, the crazy.

The other side of the argument is mental health. We don’t need more guns, we need better mental healthcare for our active duty military and our veterans.

I certainly won’t argue against that and I don’t know many who would.

But it's not all one or all the other.

The problem isn't mental health.

The problem isn't guns.

The problem is people with mental health issues who have access to guns. Crazy people with guns, that’s the problem, right there.

Plastic explosive, C4, Semtex, is just an inert block, completely harmless (well, I wouldn’t eat it) about as dangerous as a handful of Silly Putty … until you insert the detonator. Then it makes a hell of a bang.

The common phrase is that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. I’m not sure I agree, and I’m leery of empty platitudes on general principle, but let’s just say that’s true. Guns don’t kill people, but they sure make it easier for people to kill people.

A drunk may be a danger only to himself, but let him get behind the wheel and that danger is magnified many times.

That’s what a gun is, it’s a force multiplier. A magnifier.

A gun is a tool, but unlike a wrench, or a car, it's a tool engineered specifically to kill, and certain guns such as the .45 ACP carried by the shooter at Ft Hood yesterday are specifically designed to kill human beings.

The blame may indeed ultimately rest with the person, but the gun is a force multiplier which amplifies human lethality many times.

The problem of gun violence is complex.

The problem of PTSD and suicidal depression is complex.

These problems are extremely difficult to diagnose with any degree of quantitative value. It’s a process and it takes time, sometimes years just to diagnose properly. And you can’t say if a person is this much depressed, has this much PTSD, he’s going to explode. Hell, we don’t even know why some people get PTSD and some don’t even though they had nearly identical experiences. I came home and I don’t even have bad dreams, but men who served alongside me in the exact same environment suffer terribly from PTSD. Will they go murderously insane and start killing others? Will they decide to kill themselves? I for damned sure don’t know, and neither does anybody else, those men and women just take it one day at a time, sometimes one minute at a time. It’s different for everybody.

It’s not just guns.

It’s not just mental health.

Addressing one side of the issue without addressing the other is no solution at all. Q.E.D.

Certainly the problem of mental health, particularly in veterans, must be addressed. But it's not enough to go around shouting "mental health! mental health!" you actually have to do something about it. And one size doesn't fit all. And it's not as simple as handing out a couple of pills. And it costs money, a lot of money, and it's going to keep costing money, forever. That is the price of war, one of many.

But here's the kicker, not everybody who decides to commit violence is mentally ill. Not even a significant fraction. The vast majority of gun violence is committed by supposedly sane people. So it's not enough to throw up your hands and shout "mental illness!" You also have to address the tool. Canada, England, Australia, places where it's much harder to get a gun, have the same relative ratio of mental illness as we do here in America, including combat induced PTSD in returning troops, and yet the incidences of gun violence are a fraction of that in the US. And it's not because they do such a great job of treating mental illness.

To be clear here, I'm a gun owner.

I believe strongly in responsible gun ownership - emphasis on responsible.

I am NOT advocating elimination of the 2nd Amendment, far from it.

I’m saying it’s not as simple as more guns, or less guns, or yelling PTSD!

Jim Wright is entitled to his opinion, but he really doesn't understand the situation at all.

and finally:

Where did you find this idiot?

Jim Wright doesn’t understand the situation at all. Where did you find this idiot?

You know, I was only in the military for two and a half decades. I only served in three warzones. This year marks my 30th year working on military installations around the world. I taught weapons. I own weapons. I taught anti-terrorism and force protection.

Where did you find this idiot?

Well, you’ll find me standing next to Lt. General Ed Anderson, a 39 year years Army officer, West Pointer, and combat vet, who said, "I don't think that's an appropriate solution to what we have seen at Fort Hood,” when asked on the record about allowing troops to carry live weapons on base. "This has to be very, very carefully thought out. The implications of what that would result in. There are other means by which you can enhance security on installations than arming everyone. […] You could make the case they would have gotten him; maybe yes, maybe no. But then you have a Wild West situation there. It is just not the right thing to do."

Where did you find this idiot?

You’ll find me standing next to Major General Paul Eaton, who said, "We train our military police to a higher standard, they are trained first as infantry and then additional training in law enforcement and how to handle situations like a law enforcement officer." When asked specifically about allowing unrestricted carry on base, he replied emphatically, "I am not in favor of that."

Where did you find this idiot?

Standing next to Rear Admiral Jamie Barnett, who stated, "We already have lots of weapons on base. We have great law enforcement personnel, we have great military personnel personal who can protect us. It seems to me that the real focus should be on people who have some type of mental or emotional problem, we should concentrate on that."

These men, they just don’t understand the situation at all.

And how about this idiot? This is retired Colonel Jack Jacobs, wounded in action twice, three Bronze Stars, two Silver Stars, and the Medal of Honor.

But yeah, Colonel Jacobs doesn’t understand the situation at all. Where did they find this idiot?

Where oh where did they find this idiot?

Where indeed.

The Bang Bang Crazy Series:
Part 1, What we need, see, are more guns, big fucking guns
Part 2, Gun violence isn't the exception in America, it's who we are
Part 3, Sandy Hook, the NRA, and a gun in every school
Part 4, More dead kids and why we have laws
Part 5, Gun control and the myth of a polite society
Part 6, The Christopher Donner rampage, they needed killin'
Part 7, Still more dead kids and let's print our own guns!
Part 8, When all else fails, try blaming the victim.

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3758 days ago
Jim Wright explains why concealed carry on a military base, even after the Fort Hood shooting, is a BAD idea. Long but entirely worth it.
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Google Reader announced its shutdown exactly a year ago

32 Comments and 59 Shares

In this industry, you gotta be tough.

I’m just kidding. We’re a bunch of literates who enjoy reading so much that we built our own news readers. But when a behemoth like Google makes a call that places you at the business end of 100,000 frantic power users, reminding yourself how tough you are is one way of dealing with the madness.

Google announced Reader’s sunset at 4pm on March 13th, 2013. At that point I had spent three and a half years building my vision of a better news reader. I clearly wasn’t doing it for the money, since my paltry salary didn’t even cover my market rate rent in San Francisco. RSS was a decidedly stupid technology to piggyback off of to try and cover that financial disconnect.

Take a look at this graph. It shows NewsBlur’s income versus its expenses for the past 16 months. Just look at those few months before the Google Reader shutdown announcement in March 2013.

It was never hard to justify to others why I worked on a news reader for three-some years, partially because I’d been justifying it to myself for so long. I had the delusion that it would all work itself out in the end, so long as I kept pushing my hardest and shipping features users wanted. And, at the time, with 1,000 paying subscribers, it certainly felt like I was getting somewhere.

If you’re curious about why expenses are so high, think about what it takes to run a modern and popular news reader. This graph breaks down expenses for an average month from the past year.

Why spend all that money on subcontractors and new tools? Because I’m investing in building an even better news reader.

Fast forward a year and let hindsight tell you what’s what. I was irrational to think that I could make it on my own in a decaying market, what with all the air sucked out by Google. But that three year hallucination kept me persevering to build a better product, which positioned NewsBlur well as a strong candidate for a Reader replacement. When the sunset announcement dropped, it didn’t take long to fortify the servers and handle all the traffic. NewsBlur permanently ballooned up to 20X the number of paid users. People flocked to NewsBlur because it was among the furthest along in creating real competition. As we say on NewsBlur, the people have spoken.

The post-Google Reader landscape

I run a very opinionated news reader. If you think somewhat like I do, you couldn’t be more pleased with the direction NewsBlur goes. But this is still a power tool, and in a world of casual readers who don’t care where their news is coming from so long as it’s in their interests and matches their biases, NewsBlur is the coffee equivalent of the AeroPress. Most people want drip coffee and they don’t bother wasting mental energy on caring about the difference in taste or quality. It’s a binary to them: coffee or no coffee. There’s nothing wrong with that, they just choose to focus on other things more important to them than the sourcing or control they have of their coffee.

Many competing news readers are visual and offer a similar experience. When you want to give up control in exchange for the digested output of sophisticated and heartless algorithms, they’re your best bet. When you want to exert control and know what you want and from which sources, NewsBlur is the only option. No other reader gives you training, statistics, and sharing in one multi-platform app. Nobody else cares so much about RSS as to work on a news reader when it was still a financial inevitability of failure.

Future work on NewsBlur

If the past is any indication, NewsBlur is going to continue to see many more improvements. This graph of contributions from the past 365 days shows my level of unwavering dedication.

One way people speak is by committing code to NewsBlur’s GitHub repo. Try developing your own pet feature. I’ll even do some of the hard work for you, so long as you give it a good try and submit a pull request.

Meanwhile, I’m using the windfall to develop a secret project that will complement NewsBlur in a way that hasn’t been tried before with any reader. And if that fails, I’ll find an even better way to make my users happy with their purchase. If you thought I was relentless before March 13th, 2013, just wait until you see what I’m capable of with the finances to build all the big ticket features I’ve been imagining for years.

And while you’re here, do me a favor and tweet about NewsBlur. Tell your followers, who are probably looking for a better way to read news, about how much you rely on NewsBlur. Reading positive tweets about NewsBlur every morning (and afternoon and evening and before bed) make this the best job I’ve ever had.

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3778 days ago
I love NewsBlur. I'm happy to be a paying customer. It's a worthy replacement for Google Reader.
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29 public comments
3760 days ago
Good story
3765 days ago
Great newsreader. I haven't even touched all the features yet much less incorporate them into daily use. But it's nice to know they are there.
Bedford, Virginia
3773 days ago
Go NewsBlur!
Munich, Germany
3777 days ago
I'm glad to see that Newsblur seems to be on a sustainable path. Go, Samuel!

(I'm also testing out using iffft .com to turn my newsblur shares into blog posts)
3777 days ago
This is how you do it :)
Brno, CZ
3778 days ago
Love this product.
3778 days ago
Newsblur is something worth paying for - I'm very much in the camp of "if you're not paying for it, you're the product" - and I for one prefer to pay for my services directly, rather than by having my data sold.

I like NB so much, I've been developing my own Windows 8 Metro UI for it!
3778 days ago
Well, it looks like renewals are about to start rolling in, right? So you're fine? I hope you are :)
3780 days ago
Have been using @NewsBlur ever since and haven't looked back.
New Jersey
3780 days ago
Keep up the awesome work!
Wellington, New Zealand
3781 days ago
I was oblivious of other readers when I used Google but I'm honestly glad they shut down their service as I really enjoy NewsBlur.
3781 days ago
Great post
Charlotte, NC, USA
3781 days ago
Very happy to have paid for the last year of Newsblur - Google Reader first replaced and since superseded. iOS app continues to improve. Looking forward to more great value in the coming year.
London, UK
3781 days ago
I came to NewsBlur for odd reasons, but I now use it every day and it makes my life actively better. It also allows me to share the writing that's important to me. Thanks, Sam.
San Francisco, CA
3781 days ago
I switched to Newsblur from Google, and I'm certainly renewing my subscription. I will also head over to twitter and tell about you.
3781 days ago
I’m going to renew my subscription to NewsBlur in 11 days.
Espoo, Finland
3781 days ago
I hope that there will be a corresponding spike as people renew those annual memberships which are all about to expire
Washington, DC
3781 days ago
Gladly pay for this great RSS reader! Only hope it's healthy financially speaking, the graph does cause some concern...
3781 days ago
With the google reader apocalypse, I was infuriated, because most solutions, both online and offline, always lacked the general usability I needed, especially when it comes to having many feeds. Them Reddit suggested some replacement alternatives. Newsblur was among them. I'm glad I paid attention back them.
3781 days ago
Just tweeted my support of NewsBlur! Thanks for creating such a great product.
3781 days ago
Very happy with my decision to move to NewsBlur, even though it was forced upon me by Google pulling Reader. Definitely worth the investment. #newsblur
Northern Virginia
3781 days ago
I STILL like Newsblur. And I don't even use it on iOS.
3781 days ago
"NewsBlur is the coffee equivalent of the AeroPress"
3781 days ago
happy to pay for this service.
Cambridge, UK
3781 days ago
For RSS "@NewsBlur is the coffee equivalent of the AeroPress." Great quote. Even better product.
San Francisco, CA
3781 days ago
Gotta say, Newsblur is my most used app on my iPad and iPhone. Happy to pay for it:)
Falls Church, Virginia
3781 days ago
Since I found NewsBlur I have never once looked for another newsreader. Can't say this for many other services!

Also, I am kind of in awe when I see what a single person can do!
3781 days ago
Same here. There's no other newsreader that satisfy my needs so neatly.
3781 days ago
I love this news reader. It's so much better than Google Reader ever was, and that's saying something.
3781 days ago
Neat. There's this great rss reader called... Ok, you're using it.
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