Who’s in YOUR wallet?

It’s great to see women in STEM. Truly Paige Thompson is a role model and an inspiration for girls across the country, a woman showing that they, too, can grow up to be computer scientists and absolute dipshits.

I say this as someone who had a he-dipshit fabricating selfie sticks in his childhood house in Palo Alto and then trying to hawk them at trade shows in Emeryville, the gentleman in question being supported by a distinctively non-dipshit wife with a computer science degree, and then not so much supported by a non-dipshit ex-wife, his comments about her having included, “We had to train [/Borat voice/ My Wife] not to sit on the toilet.” He said this in the context of what he insisted was an extreme mite infestation; the exterminators weren’t entirely sure that there had been one.

Granted, Thompson sounds pretty disturbed, almost certainly of diminished mental capacity and culpability. That exhibitionist John Nash energy springs from a well of overt psychosis. It would be a miscarriage of justice to incarcerate her and tar her with a felony record when she has so recently been so genuinely troubled. As a general rule, though, dipshits gonna dipshit, and there’s no shortage of dipshits comparable to her who are more or less compos mentis. To some extent this is a human universal. To the rest of the extent, it’s a function of America’s hideous amalgamation of voyeuristic-exhibitionist dysfunction, celebration of extreme risktaking and thrillseeking as admirable boldness, metastatic celebrity culture, pervasively disingenuous thinking about all sorts of things, and stunningly draconian criminal justice. That Thompson did what she did in Seattle today, as opposed to Duluth or Winnipeg today or Seattle half a century ago, is no surprise. Okay, maybe to Jeff Bezos it is, but he’s too rich not to be a fucking idiot.

A fun aside to this story is Thompson’s roommate-cum-landlord, federal gun felon and abiding gun enthusiast Park Quan. The G Men are fixing to make a frequent flyer of him now. The old boy did federal time for gun possession, and now, barring exceptional judicial mercy or exceptionally competent defense counsel, he’ll be doing some more federal time for practicing additional ammosexuality. To be clear, I find Quan a rather sympathetic character, simply because this country treats ex-convicts like shit and gives them plenty of reasons to be paranoid enough to illegally arm themselves. It’s a bad idea for him to be secreting a home arsenal in his group home for the gainfully employed, but so much about the criminal justice system in the United States is an even worse idea.

One question that this situation raises is why a thirty-something woman with advanced computer skills and a recent employment history as a computer wizard was living with multiple roommates. Seattle rents are the reason, and fuck you, Jeff is the real answer. More to the point, why was this overtly disturbed and distraught young woman living under the roof of a landlord twice her age, along with his home arsenal and bump stock collection? The last thing a mentally ill person needs around the house is a bunch of guns. This is the most basic thing in the world. Ready access to operable firearms is the preeminent suicide risk factor. Every public health resource indicates exactly this. Public health authorities in the Dakotas are constantly, desperately pleading with farmers and ranchers to turn their guns in for safekeeping if they or their loved ones are experiencing mental health crises. Living with God knows who all in a house full of loaded guns–and likely with so far undisclosed financial stressors comparable to those that drive farmers and ranchers to suicide–it’s a miracle that Paige Thompson survived long enough to be arrested.

Mind you, this is America, so we really don’t fucking care about mental illness or prudent gun policy. We have two extremely bad situations intersecting, with predictably violent outcomes. It’s a miracle that there isn’t more gun violence, when we think about it, including more suicide. Say it again: guns don’t kill people; people with guns kill themselves. Or sometimes others. Or sometimes others and then themselves.

We just sustained the Gilroy Garlic Festival massacre, too. That one hit me a bit harder than some, mainly because I’m originally from Santa Clara County and have a lot of ties to the San Francisco and Monterey Bay Areas. It turns out that an old college friend now living in Gilroy was close enough to the festival on unrelated business to hear the gunshots in the distance. It’s for the best that I didn’t think of him in that context until afterwards, when he posted on Facebook that he was safe.

The only fucking thing we do after these massacres is to declare that we are Strong. We were #BostonStrong, thanks to the FBI. We were #UmpquaStrong. I gather that we’re #SonomaStrong, in this case due to the wildfires. Excuse me, I fucking vote there now, and Fat Cracka do not be on board with that.

In point of fact, we are visibly shitting our pants in fear. The Garlic Festival was held in a fenced enclosure, with metal detectors at the gates and police on patrol. In this case, having armed police nearby most likely saved lives. What none of the planners counted on was a madman enterprising enough to sneak through the brush on the perimeter of the venue and cut through the fence. The best-laid plans of mice and men–my God, Lenny, these ones are locals!–once again failed. All the same, what that kid did in Gilroy shouldn’t come as a surprise. He pulled that off as a young amateur. This country is swarming with disgruntled veterans who have deep training in marksmanship, wilderness survival, and orienteering, among other skills: in short, Dorner didn’t miss.

God bless us in our time of federalism. The gun used for the Gilroy massacre was bought in Nevada, specifically in Fallon. Fallon is gorgeous, almost magically so at times, and frankly I feel bad for the shooter that he didn’t just go there to fuck around and look at the hills, fields, and wildlife refuge wetlands. He could have gotten a license and gone duck hunting if he’d had the patience and the vision to wait for the duck season. Instead he decided that he had to go shoot up an agricultural festival in a murder-suicide by cop scenario.

California famously, or infamously, maintains firearms regulations that other states do not. This doesn’t much matter. There are not border controls. CBP operates ports of entry on the Alta-Baja border, of course, but Mexico sources its guns from El Norte, not vice versa. The Border Patrol checkpoints–blatantly unconstitutional no matter what the Supreme Court says–do approximately jack shit to keep guns off California’s streets, again because they’re interdicting traffic from the neighboring state with the most restrictive gun laws, and Mexican federalism does not allow for that bullshit. The agricultural inspection stations are ridiculous. The only times I’ve actually gotten inspected were when Officer Grasick, I think his name was, himself from Northeast Philadelphia by way of South Jersey, saw me show up on 395 from Reno with Pennsylvania plates. These days I usually bypass the station on 395 by taking Red Rock Road. It’s a nice drive. Just this morning I woke up in my car at the Mount Rose Summit, went hiking, and then drove down the not-quite-California side of the hill into Incline Village. There’s no ag station where I’m headed today, either.

I feel fine about this ethically because I’m not bulk-importing agricultural pests. The Gilroy shooter was importing contraband, but nobody stopped him. Apparently there aren’t working interstate registries of firearms purchases. Showing up in Nevada with a California driver’s license to buy a weapon banned in California could be a red flag. Or it might not be. It might just be someone who wants to shoot off the heavy shit at a licensed range in Nevada, completely legally and as safely as any other expression of ammosexuality. The civil liberties concerns about identifying and tracking gun users are legitimate. For that matter, in a free society it would not be necessary to show ID all the fucking time to conduct basic transactions such as, say, the purchase of alcohol.

Gun control is more problematic than its proponents will admit, and it is not a panacea. It won’t cure this sick nation. A huge number of weapons will never be turned in, no matter the positive incentives or demands from the authorities, because large swathes of our culture guard them too jealously ever to relinquish them from Charlton Heston’s cold dead hands. A post-Port Arthur-style nationwide clawback will not work here the way it did in Australia. Too many Americans too wholeheartedly cherish their God-given right to tear shit up.

I guess we aren’t going to do a blessed thing about mental health, either, or about our generally toxic sociology. The problem is much worse than just guns. Guns in a psychically healthy society don’t cause nearly so much carnage. Ours is a society of profound alienation, atomization, and mental illness.

These ills are pervasive. We apparently don’t fucking care. We don’t give a shit if a publicly troubled computer ingenue is living with Gun Daddy. Park Quan found a way to own both rental property AND a home arsenal. It isn’t good, but we don’t have possibly have enough community cohesion to keep an eye on people like him, or like Paige Thompson. We’re always getting worked up about warning signs–human trafficking in Eastern Nebraska and what tattoo artists can do about it, that kind of salacious crap–but when a woman who posts that she thinks she needs an indefinite admission to a mental hospital and turns out to be living with a federal gun convict and his fiery friends because the rent is too damn high, nobody does a fucking thing until the FBI catches her hacking a bank computer.

This is the same shit that happened in the Ghost Ship in Oakland, just with a different outcome. The Oakland Fire Department knew about the code violations. Fire officials had repeatedly been out to the site to look it over, but mainly from the outside. There should have been a multiagency raid to clear that shit out and resettle the residents months before it caught on fire. It would have been cheaper, and it would have saved dozens of lives.

At least there are still a few wholesome, healthy criminals in the home and native land of the free and home of the brave. Just smile and act normal, Saturday in the park, and do pray for us, Terry. We really need a Schengen Agreement with Canada, and we could really use one with Mexico. The Pickton Inquiry recommended increased bus service along Highway 16; extend it throughout the Lower Mainland and it might save us from Sauce Boss, too. Seriously, they’ve got weirdos with pig “farms,” and they’ve also got the Mounties, and there they are acting like the problem with Canada is that some Chinamen walked right in under the Peace Arch, like it was theirs. Like, I lives here. Can I come in?

No, but actually yes. I mean, Sweet Melissa of the Maritimes is gonna be trouble whether she’s sneaking online in Halifax or in Fort Myers. Caveat amator. At least Park Quan doesn’t have to cross borders to be trouble.

Please. Guys, buddies, even friends: yinz need to set up 24/7 drop-in social services at the Peace Arch immediately, along with cross-border interurban service. There’s no need to worry about the ones who just walk by and smile. Ask them if they’re looking for something, perhaps. Oh, you’ll find what you’re looking for in Etobicoke? Very well, then; you may be sick enough to be the Mayor, but you’ve got a few screws tight for the RCMP. We can fix parts of two countries at once. Let us all be Canadians of Convenience. Some of us may be crazy enough to insist that they’re Canadians AND Americans. Our own border authorities keep acting like they can’t even recognize Americans.

Why can’t we be friends? There are reasons. Many of those reasons draw police salaries. At least the Mounties allow long-term no-questions disability for sexual harassment targets with derelict detachment commanders, an excellent personnel model for the CBSA. We, th’American Side, are going to be a burden on Canada regardless. Send Whatcom County a bill for all I care.

I’m not being selfish here. I already have a psychiatrist. The problem is with some of the cases who don’t, and there are many such. Besides, prisons are more expensive and have worse outcomes. All they accomplish is keeping Saucin’ in Tsawwassen off the roads for a spell and bringing whatever Meatless Muscle hustle Northside Juice is working in-house for the time being.

We really need mental health resources besides hitting the crank pipe and listening to KOMO News Radio all night long. It’s not that I’m necessarily against this as an alternative lifestyle. It’s just that there’s no way on earth to safely mix it with nonexistent outpatient slots and ubiquitous guns.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s