The Age of Imagination

imagination_gone_wild_by_breakfaceart

What if anything you could think of could be created out of thin air? What if the product of your childlike imagination would become a reality in a few short months, possibly less? What if I told you that we’re already mostly there?

The last century, especially the last few decades, has seen a veritable explosion in technological progress. Before, in the old school days, you had to keep your wild imagination in check. Think of something awesome? Too bad, it’s probably not happening. If all you’ve got are basic tools, farm animals, and maybe some metals, or even if you had an industrial-age factory, you’d be much better off starting with the limitations of your tools and then trying to come up with creative uses for them. Now, because of the internet, 3D printing, mobile devices, and blockchain technology, the real challenge is thinking up a new “what if” and only later looking into the technological means. It’s no longer about finding out what’s possible, but what would be awesome. [Read more…]

Gun Rights Won

gun owners

It might seem to early to know for sure, but I’m calling it: gun ownership rights have won in America.

Now, I’m not saying that the struggle is over. No, there are still many battles yet to come, and there will be ups and downs in the conflict. But make no mistake: the war has been won.

Those of you who aren’t so convinced might point to recent examples such as New York and Massachusetts, where various forms of regulations have prevailed and even become stronger. Exceptions always exist to a rule, however, and such occurrences isolated to traditional big-government stronghold areas do nothing to slow the greater trend towards firearms ownership freedom. A few cases in particular really illustrate the trend:

The assault weapons ban failed. Lest we forget, during the Clinton years there was a ban on so-called “assault weapons” in place that has since expired. For the last five years the U.S. government has been under pretty solid Democratic Party control. During this time, a recent spate of highly-visible school shootings occurred, culminating in the Sandy Hook tragedy, a veritable perfect storm for would-be gun-grabbers. With a sympathetic media and a ready gun control plan years in the making, it should have been like taking candy from a baby. As it turns out, this was one fierce and obstinate metaphorical baby.

Gun rights have won at the state level in big ways. Arizona, traditionally a very pro-gun state, took its reputation a step further in 2010 by implementing permitless concealed carry, meaning a citizen can now carry a concealed firearm without obtaining any permit whatsoever. The Grand Canyon State is also the site of the assassination attempt on famous gun-control advocate Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who post-Sandy Hook and the attempt on her own life has been leading the charge for stricter gun regulations. Unsuccessfully so. Arizona holds firm, and Ohio, our second prime example, has just recently allowed concealed carry in certain school districts, formerly the hallowed strongholds of so-called “gun-free zones.”

The internet-fueled public opinion war went to the gun owners This is a brave new age of heretofore-unfathomable information flow. Media, public officials, and certain experts used to be the gatekeepers of the debate surrounding major issues. Now, thanks to social media, everyone from hardworking businessmen to full-time moms can participate in the discussion with a few clicks. Faced with a national (and global) discussion completely outside of their control, the foes of firearm rights fell short.

The war is far from over, and at this point it could easily go either way; but I’m still calling it. Firearm ownership rights’ biggest challenge completely failed, even backfired. The decentralizing power of the internet was simply too strong. How about the rest of the world? I can’t say. However, seeing how the information age has allowed this conflict to turn out so far, and knowing the borderless nature of the internet, it probably won’t be too long before the rest of the developed world follows suit.

It may still be early in the battle over the private right to own a firearm, but not too early to see the handwriting on the wall. It’s time to face it: gun rights won.

Anti-Progressives

3d printer

Progress is in the air. The Information Age, fueled by the advent of the internet, is finally hitting its stride. Almost anyone is instantly able to transmit large amounts of data to millions of people anywhere in the world. 3-D printing is revolutionizing manufacturing in ways we only dreamed possible in science fiction. The future is here. Nothing can stop us now. Who would want to, anyway?

Apparently, some people actually do want to rain on the great progress parade. And, surprise surprise, it’s the usual suspects: government.

Efforts to regulate the internet, in the form of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), the Protect IP Act (PIPA), and the Cyber Intelligence and Sharing Protection Act (CISPA) all failed in their initial attempts. However, now CISPA is back with a vengeance. While at the time of this writing its passage is still less than a slam-dunk, its reemergence proves that some people in authority are hell-bent on hampering the greatest information distribution mechanism the world has ever known.

3-D printing isn’t safe either. Already, several patents have become the boogeymen against progress in this domain. At least the Electronic Frontier Foundation is fighting back against this racket. Too bad they have to. Too bad we can’t leave society and technology to progress in peace.

We are on the verge of something spectacular. Vast, ridiculous amounts of knowledge are finally within reach for most of the world. Manifacturing has begun to slip into an era of unlimited possibilities with 3-D printing. And yet, in this dream age, there are still those who would use force and violence to try to curb progress and maintain human misery under the guise of looking out for our protection and interests. These anti-progressives form the planet’s governments, and tirelessly apply the brakes on human triumph and achievement.

May this whole concept of government one day enter the dustbin of history.

Disarmament in the Information Age

gun sculpture

The stars aligned. A mass shooting in a movie theater in Colorado still very fresh in people’s minds, the horrific massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut was the deal-sealing tragedy to usher in a new era of gun control. They had been waiting for a moment like this.

It was the perfect storm of a gun-grab… but it failed. President Obama has admitted to a group of San Francisco donors that he has lost confidence in his ability to get passed any gun control measures of significance. Why? How could such a perfectly-orchestrated effort fall flat? The answer: the information age.

In the weeks following the massacre, the mainstream media reported one major myth regarding the incident: a “military-style assault rifle,” such as an AR-15, was used. Critical analysis quickly uncovered, and spread far and wide across the internet, that not only was an assault rifle not used in the actual killings, but one might not even have been present at all. That proved Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s proposed assault weapons ban to be completely irrelevant to preventing a similar massacre, dooming it from the start.

Next, thanks once more to the internet, information regarding gun violence in America was able to travel around the mainstream media’s filter rather than through it. This illuminated the abject failure of gun restrictions to cause a reduction in violence in places like England, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. itself. Once gun control’s abysmal track record on stopping violence came to light far and wide, the narrative of saving lives simply fell apart.

Finally, the moral case for gun rights, often reserved to the hearts and minds of patriotic Americans, was allowed online public exposure. A photo of Rosa Parks with the tagline “I don’t ‘need’ an AR more than Rosa Parks ‘needed’ to sit in the front of that bus” spread like a virus via Facebook, effectively setting in stone the message that We The People have the right to exercise whatever peaceful behavior we so desire without having to justify it to the government.

Times have changed. Any other decade and this would have been an open-and-shut case of national disarmament. This time, however, they underestimated the power of a free people standing up for their rights. And, most of all, they underestimated the unregulated power of the internet. Next time they try to take away a precious Constitutional right through manipulation and deception they’re going to have to try a little harder than that.

Joel Valenzuela is the editor of The Desert Lynx