Who do you think is doing the shooting?

If you’d like to hear me read another chapter of my book paying subscribers can access it here and listen to it however you listen to things.

News came out this week that Purdue Pharma the company responsible in large part for the opioid crisis are declaring bankruptcy as a response to all of the states and cities and families trying to sue them out of existence so I decided to read one of the pieces I wrote about them. I also tried to do some shitty audio production including musical interludes from this song below but I don’t know what I’m doing so sorry about that.

As another bonus for paying subscribers I’ll be doing an ask me anything thread which you can find here. Don’t be weird about it!

Elsewhere the nice folks at Counterpunch have reprinted a chapter from the book here.

Three children in one county in Texas were shot in one day this past Sunday and two of them were shot by their siblings.

“Fort Worth Police said Monday the parents of a 4-year old boy killed by a 5-year old sibling on Sunday will not face criminal charges,” according to WFAA. “FWPD said a preliminary investigation showed the gun in the home was stored in a location a child wouldn't reasonably be expected to find.”

They didn’t say what that top secret location was in the story and I can’t think of what it might be. Where is a place a child couldn’t find something outside of a maybe a locked safe?

About thirty minutes after that baby shot the other baby to death another child was shot when she apparently sat on an Uzi that was being kept in her home. The girl didn’t die in this instance mercifully.

Then a couple hours later in Arlington “an 11-year-old boy with special needs shot his 6-year-old brother in the head with a .22 rifle that a 16-year-old brother said he ‘bought off the streets.’” 

Check this very cool shit out:

“Plan your Halloween mission and execute it flawlessly in this scary looking Skull Commando child costume,” one of the descriptions reads.

“Are you looking to turn your kid into the toughest mercenary in the neighborhood?” the next one asks. “Do you want to send your child on important missions to take down bad guys?”

An eighteen year old girl or woman I guess I should say in Oklahoma was arrested on Sunday for making terroristic threats to her former high school. Alexis Wilson was working at a pizza shop when she pulled out her phone and showed a video to her co-worker that she took of herself shooting an AK-47 Assault (K)rifle-47 and allegedly said that she wanted to shoot 400 people at the school for fun.

The co-worker told the manager who called the police who then came and arrested Wilson at her home later on according to the Washington Post who described her as a “slight 18-year-old with large brown eyes” and a “5-foot-7, baby-faced teenager.”

According to the story the school she mentioned had previously suspended her for bringing a knife in and wearing swastikas on her stuff.

Wilson denied that she was actually going to do anything violent when questioned by police and maybe she wasn’t maybe she was just blowing off steam or whatever but uh better safe than sorry I guess. I’m usually not very much in favor of snitching or calling the police unless absolutely necessary but I think I can make an exception these days for kids with an AK-47 saying they want to shoot up their school.

Police took the AK-47 with six magazines and a shotgun from her room according to the McAlester News-Capital.

“A standard magazine is 30 rounds for an AK-47, which has a cyclic rate of fire of about 600 rounds per minute and a semi-automatic rate of 40 rounds per minute,” they wrote and I’m no gun expert but I suppose you could in fact shoot 400 people with one if you knew what you were doing.

Her mother said she knew that she had the guns but didn’t think it was a problem because her daughter was a marksman and hunter. The girl says she was bullied and I have no reason to disbelieve her about that. I can very easily imagine her having been bullied and I can also very easily imagine what a child who has been bullied who has access to weapons might do after that and you can too although we don’t have to imagine it because we’ve seen it enough times to know exactly what it looks like.

As the Washington Post piece points out it is a lot rarer for young women to commit the type of school shootings we’ve all grown accustomed to and have decided collectively are worth the cost of doing freedom business but there was an infamous and early one that was carried out by a girl. It was in San Diego in January of 1979 and 16 year old Brenda Spencer decided to start shooting out of the window of her home at the elementary school across the street. She killed the principal and the custodian who had rushed out to try to save some of the children that had been shot. Eight of them were injured along with a police officer.

You may have heard of that one because it was pretty shocking at the time but also because of what Spencer said when asked why she did it.

As the Daily News explained:

On a hunch, a reporter from a local paper dialed the phone number at the address police had pinpointed as the sniper's nest. A young girl answered. The reporter asked if she knew where the shots were coming from. She rattled off the address of her house. When the reporter pointed out that it was her own address, she said, "Yeah, who do you think's doing the shooting?"

The next question, the obvious one, was why?

“I don't like Mondays. This livens up the day,” she told him.

I just read that Daily News story for the first time and it’s got an opening sentence that’s going right into my shittiest ledes of all time hall of fame:

Monday mornings are tough for everyone, but on Jan. 29, 1979, a freckle-faced red headed teen found a unique way to sing the beginning-of-the-week blues.

The first note of her displeasure — a rifle crack — came at around 8:30 a.m., just as a bell rang to signal the start of classes at Grover Cleveland Elementary in San Carlos, Calif., a suburb of San Diego.

Long time readers might remember a piece from last year in which I wrote about a woman in need of a heart transplant who was told to go fuck herself by the hospital because she was too poor to be trusted with one. Some of you and others saw her story on social media and raised a bunch of money and she was ultimately able to get the transplant. She wrote to me earlier this month to give an update:

Update on new <3

Transplanted 7/25/19. Home 8/13/19. Became fluid filled and weak. Back inpatient 9/3/19 for observation and new meds for heart flutters. going home maybe tomorrow. Biopsy came back as zero rejection . That’s good news. The main issue is to get these irregular high heart flutters under control immediately. New meds for that. Most likely will go home tomorrow. Kidneys are doing a better. Just a very high pulse. And high glucose. The high glucose is due to the prednisone steroids. The more prednisone the higher the blood sugar goes. next biopsy is in two weeks and that may show back to normal heart rhythms.

Bummed a bit but definitely not discouraged. I’m alive, I have a new heart, I have a team that’s really fighting for me, and none of it could’ve happened without your publicity. Thank you forever.

To be clear it wasn’t only my publicity a bunch of other people pointed out how ghoulish her denial was too but it’s nice to hear all the same.

Oftentimes when the subject of crowdfunding for medical care comes up someone will make the joke like lol what if we had a real big crowdfund that everyone chipped in to automatically and then whoever needed it could have access to it like me for example who made that joke in this piece a couple years ago (also in the Hell World book!) called Go Viral or Die Trying.

Obviously the gag is that simply having universal healthcare would eliminate the need for begging strangers for money online so you don’t have to die.

Check this shit out though: What if there were another option? What if we kept the same terrible system in place but just tweaked it with some tech-utopian dog shit like the Wall Street Journal proposed this week?

I don’t know man. lol I guess?

The other day Bernie Sanders asked people on Twitter to chime in with the most absurd medical bills they’ve ever received and there have been so many thousands of responses that it would be impossible to read them all or even winnow them down into some sort of categorial ranking of most to least absurd and heartbreaking and in any case the truth is getting a medical bill for anything is absurd enough but here we are. It’s another cost of doing freedom business.

Go read as many as you can but after reading through dozens of them just now a few stood out:

  • My newborn daughter couldn’t breathe; a birth defect discovered; airlifted to a children’s hospital. Child died. Claim for the Medivac denied as “failed to show medical necessity”. $27,000.00

  • I got in a car accident. Hit my head hard & messed up my back & neck along with my left shoulder, elbow, & wrist. ER did a bunch of X-Rays & scanned my head for internal bleeding. Got a bill for $20k. Insurance refused to pay.

  • When I ended up in the ER uninsured in California after being sent there by an urgent care doc for suspected internal bleeding, a billing person came into the room with a clipboard and said I had to pay a $500 deposit before even being seen by a nurse/doc since I was uninsured.

  • $1500 for a rape kit

  • 60k for an appendectomy - the hospital was in my insurance network but the surgeon they assigned to me wasn’t.

  • $20,000 after my baby Anthony died at Tarzana Medical Center which was 15 minutes farther than the hospital where he was born where we were insured (Kaiser). He choked on his formula and was unconscious then died.

Some oil fields in Saudi Arabia were attacked and despite the fact that Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attack it appears we’re going to go ahead and blame Iran for them. Asked if we were prepared to go to war yesterday Trump said “The United States is more prepared than any country in the history of… of… in any history, if we have to go that way” and that is comforting to hear that of all the histories out there we’re at the top.

On Sunday he tweeted that “Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked. There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!” and that is also comforting to hear that we’re waiting to get our orders from them on where to point our weapons.

I don’t know if we’re going to go to war but my only regret if we do is that I am too old to enlist to go die for Mr. Trump’s war to protect Saudi oil fields.

Another thing I read was that Saudi Arabia is taking the attack very hard and that some there are even referring to it as their own 9/11 but that doesn’t really make any sense because they already had one.

I have a sort of oppressive blanket of ambient dread stretched out over me this morning — more so than usual! — and I don’t know why maybe it’s because of some physical pain which is sort of coming back or maybe it’s because I drank the past two nights in a row after not having done that in a few weeks and my brain just isn’t used to it at the moment. I went to the pain clinic last week to get another shot called a quadratus lumborum nerve block which the doctor kept telling me he wanted me to Google and I did later on but there were too many Latin words in the description of what it was and my eyes glazed over. Not my problem I thought. Essentially it’s shooting steroids into your muscles so a nerve stops sending pain signals to your brain.

When I’m laying there on the table in the pain clinic there are usually two nurses or technicians or whatever they are and one of them is named Rosemary and she’s a sturdy old Irish broad nurse caricature but she’s nice and I forget the other one’s name but she like monitors my heart beat I guess is what her job is. How you doing she asks me and I always go ah it’s not terrible just really uncomfortable I say.

Then there are usually two doctors one of which is learning how to do the shit and the main doctor who is in charge. This one is different than the last doctor I saw to have this procedure and I don’t think they did it right or maybe the trainee guy fucked it up. Maybe the last guy didn’t leave the proper coordinates to the treasure map of pain inside of me.

They have an ultrasound thing going and it shows them the insides of my guts up there on a computer screen so they know how many layers of muscles they have to puncture the big needle through and the main doctor this time kept saying to me see that see right there that’s the bird’s beak he kept calling it. I guess it’s a space where three abdominal muscles meet and they look like a bird’s beak according to this doctor. Do you see the bird’s beak he kept asking me and I was laying there on my side in the cold room with my pants around my ankles and my shirt off gushing sweat out of my armpits because there was a huge needle inside of me squirting steroids onto my fucked up nerves and I was like yeah man I see the bird’s beak.

The reason I drank on Sunday night was understandable it is what is known as football was on. Last night I had no desire to drink but an old high school buddy I don’t see very much was around and he wanted to meet up with me and our other friend. The other friend had to cancel last minute so it was just me and the one other guy and there is a very different vibe for dudes when it comes to hanging out with just one old friend as opposed to two or more at a time because then instead of it being emotionally stunted men just doing old jokes back and forth at each other for an hour or two it turns into one on one old guy therapy which is what happened and it was actually nice if I’m being honest. It’s super rare for me to ever have an extended conversation with anyone lately never mind someone who appears to actually care about me. Most of my conversations on a daily basis of late aren’t very long and they are usually with the person at the counter at Dunkin Donuts. Not much room for nuance or introspection there. The other day I asked the main Dunkies girl I know how many orders she had memorized because she usually remembers mine — large ice, milk, one sugar — and I thought she was going to say like a hundred but instead she said ah not that many really.

The weird thing about this pain doctor is that he kept asking me after the thing if I was feeling better and I was like well you just did the thing it takes a little time right and then when I got home I got a phone call and it was the doctor asking me how I felt and I was like what the fuck? When was the last time a doctor ever followed up with you to see if you were ok?

I’ve been reading a book called The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell and I am very much looking forward to getting into bed around 9 pm tonight and getting back to it due to I can only read books at night because otherwise my brain doesn’t let me believe in them I think. It was her first book in 1996 and it won a bunch of awards including the Arthur C. Clarke Award and it’s about a Jesuit named Emilio Sandoz who is the lone survivor after a trip to a distant planet after first contact with an alien culture is made. It’s riveting at times if by no means perfect or anything I sort of prefer the parts where the people are suffering and despondent as opposed to the parts where they’re laughing and full of life which may not come as a surprise.

There’s a passage I like though and I’ll share it here. It’s after Sandoz has come back to Earth alone under mysterious and scandalous circumstances and he’s broken and doesn’t much care if he lives or dies anymore and he’s meeting with the head of the Jesuits (called Giuliani lol) who says this type of shit to him below.

“There is no form of death or violence that Jesuit missionaries have not met. Jesuits have been hanged, drawn and quartered in London,” he said quietly. “Disemboweled in Ethiopia. Burned alive by the Iroquois. Poisoned in Germany, crucified in Thailand. Starved to death in Argentina, beheaded in Japan, drowned in Madagascar, gunned down in El Salvador.” He stood and began to circle the room slowly, an old habit from his days as a history professor, but stopped for a moment by the bookcase to select an old volume, which he turned idly over and over in his hands as he spoke, strolling again, placing no special emphasis on any of his words. “We have been terrorized and intimidated. We have been reviled, falsely accused, imprisoned for life. We have been beaten. Maimed. Sodomized. Tortured. And broken.”

He came to rest now in front of Sandoz, close enough to see the man’s eyes glittering. There was no change in Emilio’s face but the tremor was visible. “And we, who are vowed to chastity and obedience,” he said very softly, holding Emilio’s eyes with his own, “have made decisions, alone and unsupported, that have given scandal and ended in tragedy. Alone, we have made horrifying mistakes that would never have occurred in a community.”

He had expected the shock of recognition, the look that comes when the truth is spoken. For a moment, Giuliani wondered if he had misjudged. But he saw shame, he was certain, and despair. “Did you think you were the only one? Is it possible that you are so arrogant?” he asked, in tones of wonderment. Sandoz was blinking rapidly now. “Did you think you were the only one ever to wonder if what we do is worth the price we pay? Did you honestly believe that you alone, of all those who have gone, were the single man to lose God? Do you think we would have a name for the sin of despair, if only you had experienced it?”

Give the man credit for courage. He did not look away. Giuliani changed tactics. He sat down at the desk once more and picked up a notescreen. “The last report I received on your health tells me that you are not as sick as you seem. What was the term the physician used? ‘A psychogenic somatic retraction.’ I do hate jargon. I suppose he means you are depressed. I would put it more bluntly. I think you are wallowing in self-pity.”

Emilio’s head snapped up, face carved in wet stone. For an instant, Sandoz looked like a bewildered child, slapped for weeping. It was so brief, so out of expectation, that it almost didn’t register. Months later, and for the rest of his life, Vincenzo Giuliani would remember that instant.

And then he says this shit to him because Sandoz has been acting sullen and detached from life and barely taking care of himself anymore and I like this speech here it’s good advice for all of us I think but mostly me.

“If you treated anyone else as you have treated yourself during the past six hours, you would be guilty of assault,” he told Sandoz flatly. “This will cease. From this moment on, you will show your body the respect it deserves as God’s creation. You will allow your arms to heal and then you will embark on a sensible and moderate course of physical therapy. You will eat regularly. You will rest properly. You will care for your own body as you would for that of a friend to whom you are indebted.”