Well said, Barry.  It would prove unconstitutional and elitist, but I'm wondering if it shouldn't be necessary to pass a basic civics test in order to vote.  Questions such as, 1.) On which continent is Iraq located?;  2.) On which continent is the United States?;  3.)Name two sources of current events that you use to make voting decisions?  (Note:  answering Oprah or the Kardashians may exclude you from voting privileges for 5 years.)

I'm willing to bet there are a lot of voters who couldn't name the continent the US is located on.


On Mon, Dec 31, 2012 at 10:34 AM, Barry K. MacKay <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Hi, Jeff,


You gave me a lot to think about and research.  


I already knew about the Thomas Jefferson quote: "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be."   I think it illustrates what is part of my underlying thesis. 


Coincidentally (and to bring in a SCIART-related topic) I recently picked up the current issue of Scientific American, attracted by the awesome cover art, showing a restoration portrait of an early Hominid, and have (after admiring the art throughout…we all have our priorities, eh?) been reading away at the articles, and doing this at the same time I’ve been reading the book I’ve several times mentioned, Idiot America, by Charles P. Pierce, Anchor Books, 2010, which I’m nearly finished (I always have several books and journals on the go, so am slow with any one of them), but it begins and starts with the Creationism Museum.  


The contrast between the science, much of it “American” in origin and all of it predicated on a cause and effect universe whereby carefully demonstrated information derives from carefully demonstrated information, with lots of back-checking and revisions as new data, experiments, specimens and so on come forth…all to be found in Scientific American… and the kind of think that allows people to believe that humans rode on dinosaurs and Noah put baby dinosaurs in his ark, is beyond staggering.


And I think it helps explain why what you define as a “republic” does not work.  Whatever else, the U.S. founding fathers envisioned, it included what we would probably consider an elitist governance in which well-educated, thoughtful white adult men voted, it being inconceivable that other people, women, blacks, would be intelligent enough to be entrusted with this responsibility.


I think, furthermore, that they got it partly right – for the system to work and provide good governance comparable to what they had rejected, the electorate had to be realistic, to be able to think analytically and base opinion on demonstrable fact…intelligent (what they got wrong was in thinking only white males could be).    And I think the statistics cited by the likes of Pierce, Dawkins and others demonstrates that does not happen in the U.S. (or elsewhere, to be sure, but many countries that show staggering levels of stupidity also don’t produce magazines like Scientific American!).


I did look up, as you advised, different definitions and “democracy” and “republic” and came to the perhaps incorrect conclusion that the U.S. is an inconsistent hybrid of both systems.   I am informed, by this research, why it seems so often that what I would consider “rights” (health care, safety) are not valued as much by the U.S., as they come at the expense of other “rights” (profiteering; owning guns).   I speak simplistically, but the bottom line is my values don’t change as a result of this knowledge.   I feel that the things that put individuals at greater risk are simply wrong, although we can argue what is the greater risk (high energy-dependent but very comfortable lifestyle vs climate change might be such an example).


In this morning’s paper there was alarm because for the first time in three years Toronto had seen such a serious increase in homicides, including gun deaths (although at a time that experienced an overall decline, of ten percent, in crime).   In 2012 (to date, the year’s not quite over) Toronto had 33 shooting deaths, up by five from the previous year.


Homicides from all causes were at 54.


The U.S. city closest in size, climate, and the like to Toronto is our U.S. sister city, Chicago.  There they had 228 homicides.  


I’m horrified by what happened in Toronto, and it is widely believed that since EVERY gun starts out legally owned (unless stolen from the factory or in transit to the store where it will be sold) I’m concerned about the future, notwithstanding a greatly thickened border, as handguns are smuggled across the border.  


I am not arguing the concerns you raise; on the contrary, I’ve had similar concerns about what is going on in the U.S., where all the legal and moral progress from the Magna Carta seems to be increasingly irrelevant. 


But since we both agree that guns won’t protect Americans from their own government, from the military industrial complex, surely at the very least rules and regulations (and actions, that gun recall in L.A., last week) are in order to protect Americans from a far greater risk to their survival than that posed by “Islamic fundamentalists”, for example.


Politicians have long been afraid of challenging the NRA, and somehow compassion has simplistically become associated with “weakness”.   The sheer horror of Sandy Hook makes me hope that is what it will take to at least break the hold the NRA has had on forming policy by awarding, with truly effective support, the politicians who support its mandate to assist the gun industry in ever more sales, while effectively punishing politicians who advocate for laws and regulation.


You mention eating game as a youth.  No need for rocket launchers, armor-penetrating bullets, semiautomatic and automatic weapons or extended magazines in order to put a partridge on a plate, venison in the freezer or perch in the frying pan.


But you don’t say otherwise…we seem to be in agreement.


I intend to do more research along the lines you’ve suggested, and thanks.





Barry Kent MacKay

Bird Artist, Illustrator

Studio: (905)-472-9731

[log in to unmask]





From: SciArt-L Discussion List-for Natural Science Illustration- [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Jeff Swanson
Sent: December-29-12 5:29 PM

To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [SCIART] [Tan]: tragedies was iPads


A well thought out response, most of which I stand in agreement with.


I am Canadian as well, and grew up on moose meat, venison, partridge and pickerel. Once I got a weapon for hunting, I took the manditory safety course. It has been at least 40 years since I owned or fired a gun, and as I said, I have no plans to do so in the future.


There is no question, however, that the US government is presently being run as a criminal enterprise. HSBC caught laundering trillions in drug money, nobody goes to jail, company is fined far less than they profited. ATF and the Justice Department send huge quantities of guns to Mexican drug cartels under Operation Fast and Furious. Death toll in the tens of thousands. Bank fraud everywhere, with the Occupy movement brutalized under the supervision of the banks. Privacy laws stripped away, and people searched before getting on public transportation. Metro buses now have spy cameras and microphones as a matter of course. 


You refer to the US as a democracy, but it was set up as a republic - and the distinction is important. I doubt anyone will believe it, but if you do a little research, I think you will find that the US has been under martial law since the Civil War, under the Trading with the Enemy Act. The "stars and stripes" flag is the flag of the US at war, with a completely different and forgotten flag indicating the US at peace, and under civil law.


I predict that after a few more of these incidents, which will escalate in violence, a call will go out to have everyone surrender all their weapons. I would love to be wrong on this.


Both political parties in the US are bought and paid for by the war profiteering shareholders who also own most of the media and entertainment industry. This makes an intelligent, open discussion pretty much impossible. The average American who is paying attention, is starting to realize that he's playing the part previously played by Indians and Palestinians. "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you." doesn't really cut it any more. So-called "entitlements" that people have paid into for their entire working lives are about to be flushed down the toilet while banking fraudsters are considered too big to fail and bailed out in the trillions. Trillions I might add, that are borrowed from those same banksters - at interest - to be paid back by Joe Average. Good trick.


I agree that guns will never be the answer, because they are simply out-gunned. The American military is now mostly contracted out. Contracted means mercenary. These contractors have been proven to be murderers, human traffickers, embezzlers and drug traffickers, yet their contracts are renewed again and again. Families with a tradition of military service dating back to the Revolutionary War are telling their children to stay away from the military, because it is hopelessly corrupt. I don't think guns are the answer, as I said, but can understand people's reluctance to surrender what they have.


The NRA is nothing but a bunch of psychopaths who represent the gun manufacturers, not the average gun owner. The Pentagon is their largest customer, so I think they they will, eventually, "see the light" on gun control.


The US has a higher percentage of its population in prison than any other country, including China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, or any other country - indeed ALL other countries combined. Corporations are cheering the use of prisoners as a cheap labor source to compete with 3rd world countries. These prisons, by the way, are now mostly privately (for profit) owned and there have been several cases of judges caught taking bribes to keep those prisons full.


And still I say that armed resistance is a mistake for the simple reason that it will fail, and all traces of their admittedly ignored constitution will be swept away. I wish I had an alternative to offer, but sadly I do not. So I have nothing to offer those who want to hang on to their guns.


To those who think that gun control is the answer, I would simply say that Connecticut has very strict gun control laws and the mother who owned the guns was very conscientious about obeying those rules.


I apologize in advance for those who find this whole thread upsetting. It upsets me as much or more than anyone else.



Jeff K. Swanson

Swanson Creative




On 2012-12-29, at 1:00 PM, "Barry K. MacKay" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

I am a gun-owner, and while I haven’t fired a gun in a long time, I do enjoy target shooting.   I’d never hunt, but in my youth I did collect zoological specimens.  I didn’t like it, and found other ways to obtain the specimens I used and still use in my artwork (and ultimately became so concerned about animal welfare as a result of that, that I worked towards animal protectionism, as well as environmentalism, and am a vegan).  I can safety-check, load, unload and clean most shotguns, rifles, pistols and revolvers, but wouldn’t have a clue about automatic and semiautomatic military weapons.


No one knows how many guns there are in Canada, but the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/cfp-pcaf/res-rec/comp-eng.htm)  puts the figure at 7.4 million, with about 1.2 million being restricted under Canadian law, and most of those are handguns owned by collectors, target shooters and the like, and how they can be used is closely controlled. 


Even a long gun cannot be carried openly in cars or other motorized vehicles…it has to be either broken down or in a case. 


So no one is talking about eliminating firearms altogether, and I’m not disputing Ghandi’s quote.  Like him, speaking about India, I also don’t think that a foreign power should deprive American (or Canadian) citizens of any and all firearms.  But the U.S. is not a colony as India was at the time, nor under foreign rule.


As a matter of fact, like Canada, it is a democracy, so has the option of voting the government out of power.  Americans do not have to shoot politicians although that does happen with alarming frequency, and seems not to achieve significant change in governance.


There is certainly more than firearms responsible for what’s going on down there.  There is, again citing the RCMP, almost twice as many non-firearm homicides in the U.S., compared to Canada, which I emphasize is demographically, historically and geographically the country most similar to the U.S.  So Americans are more violent on average. 


But the handgun homicide rate in the U.S. is 15.3 times higher in the U.S., than Canada…that is a huge difference.


So while your friends may fear all those bullets that the U.S. government has being aimed at them, more innocents are being killed off than could be accomplished by terrorists.


But let’s take  your American friends’ fears into consideration.  Do they really think that they are going to be fighting their own government, Syria-style?   If the U.S. government is in control of the military (which consists of American citizens) than I’m afraid that no matter how much fire power those citizens have, they are no match for the largest and costliest killing machine in the planet’s sad history.  


I believe the Second Amendment, as written covers that concern at any rate, by stating that the state has the right to have an armed militia.  I agree, and have never said otherwise.


But the supreme court conservatives have interpreted that to mean that individuals have that right, and with all too few restrictions on types of weapons or how they may be used, and the results have been what I’d consider catastrophic.


You state the current government endorses “Indefinite detention, perpetual war, corruption at the highest levels, and a presidential claim to the right to assassinate anyone anywhere, including Americans. Once they have all the guns, will that guarantee everyones safety?”


I agree with the concern.  But they are nowhere near to having all the guns…far, far from it…and I take to heart the warning Dwight Eisenhower issued at the end of his presidency when he warned Americans about what he called “the military, industrial complex.”   There is a right wing party, the Democrats, and an unbelievably right wing party, the Republicans, and no balance from the left.   That is quite different from most other so-called “western”, industrialized, developed democracies, and it relates to a history that diverges from that of the rest of the developed world….the U.S. does incarcerate, for example, more of its own people than any other country.


BTW, the NRA argued that since presidents are surrounded by guys with guns to protect them, children should receive similar service.  But it hasn’t worked.   A disproportionate number of American politicians have been shot even though surrounded by trained gunmen.  We’ve yet to assassinate so much as a single head of state!  


And yet…


Relative to the rest of the world, including countries it has invaded or otherwise destabilized, the U.S.  is not a violent country.  There are other countries with far fewer weapons that are more dangerous than the U.S.; horrific dictatorships and cruelly greedy regimes.   Heck, when I reach the U.S. from field work in Latin America, I always feel a lot safer.    


But instead of looking downward, at those who are worse off, and being satisfied at not being as bad as some other countries, I’d sincerely like to see Americans strive to do better.  No one’s going to take their precious guns, but at least start with baby-step reforms to bring the situation under control, to try what is working elsewhere.   For 1989 to 1995, the average handgun homicide in the U.S. was 4.8 per 100,000 compared to 0.3 per 100,000 in Canada. 


So why is that?   Do we agree that handgun homicides are not a good thing?  Since we are comparing apples to apples – handgun owners to handgun owners – I would think that it demonstrates that stricter regulations work…unless there is something in the water down there (or the beer up here, perhaps) that makes Americans more vicious, and I can’t think of anything.


Finally, I’m not sure what you mean when you say that the shootings in Aurora and Sandy Hook “simply do not pass the smell test”?   I have gone online and looked at all sorts of commentary, but seen nothing to suggest that “serious questions raised by competent people outside the corporate media” cast any doubt that after said media (and I agree that too much of it IS “corporate”, and because of the mad rush for ratings and “scoops” early reporting was at times wildly inaccurate) got past the first rush of misinformation, has misled us on the essential facts.







Barry Kent MacKay

Bird Artist, Illustrator









From: SciArt-L Discussion List-for Natural Science Illustration- [mailto:SCIART-[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Jeff Swanson
Sent: December-29-12 12:27 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [SCIART] [Tan]: tragedies was iPads


Well, there may be more to this than meets the eye.


I do not own a gun, and am not contemplating any purchase in the future, though I used to hunt when I was younger.


Friends in the US who do advocate gun ownership as a right (not a privilege) point to the fact that their incredibly corrupt government has purchased 1.5 Billion dun-dum bullets in the last year or so, just for Homeland Security. Other departments have order similar quantities. These hollow point bullets are illegal even in war, and since these are destined for Homeland "Security" for domestic use, I can understand their concern.


To that I would add a quote, the source of which is very surprising:

"Among the many misdeeds of British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest."    


Not to mention, that the shootings in Aurora and Sandy Hook simply do not pass the smell test. Before people jump down my throat, do a bit of searching for yourself online and evaluate the serious questions raised by competent people outside the corporate media. 


I, for one do not see guns as a solution to anything, but am concerned when a government that is behaving as badly as this one, is demanding a monopoly on those guns. Indefinite detention, perpetual war, corruption at the highest levels, and a presidential claim to the right to assassinate anyone anywhere, including Americans. Once they have all the guns, will that guarantee everyones safety? I very much doubt it.


Do not confuse comfort with freedom.


The quote about the British, by the way, was from Gandhi.


Tough subject.




Jeff K. Swanson

Swanson Creative




On 2012-12-28, at 4:52 PM, Bruce Bartrug <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Well said, Barry.  The gun culture in this country is absurd.  I'll give you an excellent example.

On Christmas Eve, a man walked through Portland, Maine, openly carrying the same rifle used in Connecticut.  The gun was loaded, had a magazine larger than normal, and was slung across his shoulder with a strap.  There were 65 phone calls to the police, who followed the man everywhere he went.  But get this.  In Maine, it is not illegal to carry a firearm openly, therefore the police could not ask for the man's ID and could not ask if the gun were loaded.  Nor could they confiscate the weapon just to keep this guy from scaring the hell out of everyone.

That's just crazier than hell.  Something has to change here, and soon.  The gun culture in America restricts our freedom, rather than "protecting" it.


On Fri, Dec 28, 2012 at 8:07 AM, Barry K. MacKay <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Indeed.  It is a huge topic here in Canada, not only because of compassion for the victims, but because we know and are frustrated by the knowledge, that it is possible to live in a free country and with great geographic and demographic similarities and yet have far fewer innocents shot simply by implementing sensible gun regulations.


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Bruce Bartrug
Nobleboro, Maine, USA
[log in to unmask]

The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.  - Albert Einstein


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